Dochula is one of the most popular places to visit on the Thimphu-Wangdue highway, primarily due to the iconic 108 stupas along with majestic views on clear days. For people who’ve lived in Thimphu, it is pretty rare to have not visited the place countless times already. On the contrary, it is still common to have not hiked to Lungchu tsey goemba despite it’s popularity and ease of access.
Rhododendrons seen on the way
The goemba was initially built as the residence of Terton Drukdra Dorji; a Buddhist luminary in the 18th century, who prophesied the birth and life of His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan. The temple underwent major renovation works from 2003-2008; simultaneously with the construction of the 108 stupas at Dochula.
Starting point of the route
About 100 metres after crossing the Dochula chortens, on the right side of the road; adorned with colorful prayer flags, is the path that leads to the goemba. It’s a relatively moderate hike, passing through tall rhododendrons, hemlocks and junipers, with comfortable paths designed especially for hikers. To see the rhododendrons in full bloom, the perfect time to visit is in the months of April to May. However, a clear day during the dry seasons is also good enough for getting the best of this hike. The soil is fertile and rich in nutrients so you often see people take huge bags of soil for plantations.
It is one of the most pictorial hiking routes in the country with abundant chances for landscape photography. After less than 2 hours of the rejuvenating hike, the destination is a temple on the hilltop at an altitude of approximately 3600 m above sea level. Just a bit before you reach the temple, there is a small pond, with a tiny shed over it, believed to be “holy water”.
Into the woods
On a bright sunny day, you can get magnificent panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range. One can also see Gasa Dzong, as a tiny white speck. Despite being a relatively steeper hike, the well maintained and wide trekking route makes it suitable for biking enthusiasts as well.
The place was originally called Long-jur zey meaning “the place/cliff of enlightenment” but over time, change in pronunciation led to it being called Lungchu tsey. Away from the distractions of samsara, this place offers peace of mind and is thus believed to be the ideal location for meditation.
Rhododendrons in full bloom
If you have time to spare, the trail to Lungchu tsey has a diversion that connects to Hong Tsho Trashigang goemba, allowing you to visit two places on the same day. It takes almost an hour to reach Trashigang goemba from the diversion, so if you intend to visit both locations, do travel early.
Whether you’re looking for a short trip with family/ friends over the weekend, or searching for a getaway into nature, Lungchu tsey is a very good choice; definitely worth planning a trip to.