Forging the Unbeaten Trail Towards Wangdue Nye
When you dedicate year 2020 to hike on unbeaten trails in Bhutan.
Rising 3100 meters above the sea level on the western mountain in between Haa and Paro lies Wangdue Nye. It is situated in the border of Dokar and Naja Gewog under Paro Dzongkhag. This is where you will be treated to undulating views of magnificent snow-capped mountains and mellow valleys downhill in winter.
With stunning natural vistas, the destination is only popular among the few pilgrims, loggers and few nomads for different reasons. The most revered Buddhist Saint Guru Rinpochoe is said to have meditated in one of the caves at the vicinity thus the temple was built in Wandgue Nye. The temple only structure built at the highest elevation in the middle of the forest.
The surrounding is popular for the yak herders from far west. The nomads of Haa migrate towards the place with their animals in winter. Thus the place is used as the pastureland in the winter.
The diverse landscape of Bhutan offers several options where you can explore the many dimensions of the country, so whether it is a cultural holiday, mountain adventure or wildlife that you seek, there is all this and much more than one’s imagination.
Where is the Start Point of the Hike?
Drive till Dawakha, 12 km away from Chunzom Junction. From the main highway of Dawakha, feeder roads take you till Tashidingkha Lhakhang which is located at the top of the Jadugang Village. The feeder road is approximately 6km from Paro-Haa Highway.
Only 4 wheeler cars are recommendable however in winter the road is covered with frost and snow. If you decide to walk from the main road it takes an hour of hike to reach till the endpoint of the road near the temple. The trails narrow within the village and pine tree forests with a steep ascend. The initial hike is arduous and tiring.
After 2 hours of hike, you will hear of yaks bell ringing, that’s where we know that we are closer to first yak pastureland and closer to Wangdue Nye Lhakhang. The natural environ are used by nomads to graze their yak in winter from Haa. Thus the yak herder is only one who lives in that area.
The Sacred Pilgrim Site
Wangdue Nye is one of the sacred pilgrim sites in Paro but it remains unknown to many Bhutanese Pilgrims. The main pilgrimage site is the Guru Padmasambhava meditation cave. The cave is astonishingly huge. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava left his robe behind and flew up through the rock and after he flew away he blocked the way by a drum which is still visible on the ceiling of the cave.
Besides the great yogis' cave, there are several other religious figures cave like that of Dorji Phama, Namkhai Nyingpo and many other disciple’s of Guru Rinpochoe. The ney is believed to be the abode of Chakrasamvara and also at par with Yari-nak situated on the border of Nepal and Tibet. According to the script of Barchoe Lamsoel Yari nak is the slate of mountains where Guru Padmasambhava meditated to establish the teaching of the Buddhas and crushed the dark Yaksa lords into dust.
According to the local legends, it would take pilgrims at least 2 weeks to complete the sightseeing of all pilgrimage sites around the vicinity. The trail towards the sites is extremely narrow at striking locations. School children and local people living nearby village are seldom visitors of the site.
Until last year Wangdue Nye didn’t have a proper temple however with the help of sponsors and donors, now at the middle of the jungle is the temple and caretakers house. There is also a meditation centre/house for individuals who are interested to retreat.
The Wild Man with Biggest Heart
Gomchen Lab Tshering age 60 is a caretaker of the Wangdue Nye Lhakhang. He is the gyspy soul who gave up the material world for the sake of his pursuit of Buddhism. This man sold the least property he owned back in the village 25 years ago and decided to head to the mountain and take care of the temple.
He first came to know about the Nye when older people from his village used to visit and perform rituals at Wangdue Nye. He was asked to help carry luggage to the Nye. After visiting Nye for several times, he learnt the significance of every pilgrim sites and he also recognized the problems and challenges faced by pilgrims at the Nye.
Later on in his life, he decides to not only take care of the temple but also built a simple house for the pilgrims and help the pilgrims by being the guide to them.
Where to stay?
If you are an ardent hiker, one can either choose to do a day hike or simply take time to visit the pilgrim site by deciding to stay back in Wangdue Nye Lhakhang. If you wish to take tents, it would be a wonderful camping experience too.
Things to do
Hot Stone Bath
Writer- Tshering Denkar