Tango and Cheri Goemba come at the top of the list if you are looking for day hikes and trails around Thimphu. These are two beautiful monasteries set on two side hills with Thimphu Chu (River) flowing right in the middle.
Located around 18 kms north of Thimphu, ride to the base point is itself quite charming as you pass through the interiors of Bhutan with a halt at Pangri Zampa Lhakhang mid way which is the national center of traditional astrology in Bhutan. Trail to Tango Monastery Hike starts right next to Parking lot and takes around an hour while for Cheri Monastery Hike, you have to walk a little by the side of river before you start your ascend, also being around an hour one way.
As we reached the starting point at around 2 PM and it was about to rain, so we decided to hike to Cheri Monastery only. It was some key festival on the day we visited the monasteries and place was full of Bhutanese who had come to offer their prayers and get blessings. We walked for 10 minutes on road along river Thimphu Chu before we crossed a cantilever bridge, vibrant with prayer flags and the sound of gushing water, to start our Cheri Monastery Hike , considered to be the first monastery of Bhutan.
Cheri Monastery Hike is along a steep trail that passes through the green forest. We met few people who were coming down to go to Tango monastery as priests had gone there in afternoon for the worship. Though steep, but trail is quite well defined and you can also catch your breath under the shadow of trees as you ascend up.
You can also easily spot deer and jaru (mountain goats) along or on your path as you approach the monastery. a group of goats was sitting right at the entrance and we took a deviation in case they get agitated seeing us.
It was all calm and peaceful and there was no one around except deer and mountain goats. Cheri is also an important meditation place for monks and thus we kept roaming around without making any noise. Views from the
top are stunning as you see the river flowing down with Bhutanese sitting on the bank for their lunch.
You can also walk further up to watch more of Monastery structures but we decided to walk down as it was getting dark with heavy clouds. It took us around 20 minutes to climb down and as we were planning to start our Tango Monastery Hike, it started raining cats and dogs. Thanks to a Bhutanese gentleman who gave us lift in his car otherwise there were no taxis over there and we would have got all drenched in rain 🙂
Tango and Cheri Monastery Location
Both Tango and Cheri monasteries are located close by on two side hills. You can decide to hike anyone first and then come down before you ascend the other one. Reserve at least 2 hours (both ways) for each hike. Click here for co-ordinates.
How to reach the starting point from Thimphu
Shared cabs from Thimphu ply only up to Pangri Zampa Lhakhang (Nu 40 per person) which is mid way from Thimphu to Tango & Cheri Monastery. You can either book a full cab from there on or from Thimphu itself. We will suggest to have your own cab as Tango and Cheri Monasteries are not frequently visited and you may not find a return cab. We faced issues in terms of getting a cab on our way back and felt that we should have booked our own cab for this trip. If we would have our own cab, we could have accomplished both Tango and Cheri Monastery hikes without any haste.
Place to visit on the way
- Pangri Zampa Lhakhang is an old temple and also the national center of astrology.
- Rock painting of Guru Rinpoche at Begana: You can take a halt for a quick photo session here.