Birding & Hiking : Chagri Monastery

Hiking in Bhutan can be a unique experience. Hiking in Bhutan can also give you an insight to the natural discovery. Usually the hiking trail passes through the forest whereby one often get to spot variety of bird life.

Up on the northern end of Thimphu valley en wrapped in myth and mystery  lies the mystical  Chagri monastery  The driving distance could be around 16Km. It takes us almost one hour to reach  the basement of the mountain where this monastery was located from the main Thimphu town.

The place has a serene energy field. We were welcomed by Roaring River confluence of Dodena.

The hike is steep but there are big trees to give us shade and ease the hike.  As we ascend we may encounter various species of birds, commonly Laughing Thrust, Eurasia Nut Cracker, Brown Dipper, Spotted Laughing Thrust, Fire capped Tit, Chestnut–crowned Laughing Thrushes, White-throated Laughing Thrushes, Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers, and White-collared Blackbirds. This hike would be a treat to the bird lovers.

So after 45 minutes of hike we were finally there at Chagri monastery.

The name Chagri has been derived from Cha which means Iron and Ri meaning mountain. It was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel on the year 1620 as per the prophecy that at the belt of the mountain that looks like a heart there will be a meditation retreat ; now it is the home for Bhutan’s first monk body. It was built around the spot where Phajo Drugom Zigpo has meditated three centuries earlier.  There are currently 40 monks undergoing three years, three months and three days retreat.

In general there are four altars/Lhakhangs

  1. Kudung Lhakhang:  It  enshrines the ashes of the Zhabdrung’s father, whose body was smuggled here from Tibet. Simultaneously it also houses the statue of Zhabdrung, Guru Rinpoche , Buddha Sakyamuni, Nagarjuna and Dharma King Songtsen Gampo. The local people also believe that Zhabdrung statue here have spoken and this shrine is supposed to be wish fulfilling shrine.
  2. Jowo Lhakhang: It is dedicated to the local deities of Chagri & Tango monastery, Adarpati and Baayup.
  3. Namsey Lhakhang: The third rooms enshrines three long life Deities Namgyelma , Jetsun dema and Tshepamay.
  4. Duethul Lhakhang: To reach the fourth one we have to climb the steep stairs to Demon Subjugating monastery which houses the prime deity Kalachakra in one room and the other room is a place where Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel has meditated. And the view of Thimphu valley from this monastery is breath taking.

However the Monastery main building is under renovation

After detouring the monastery the monk there was kind enough to offer us tea and snacks. We can also see lot of Tshetar Domestic animals grazing around the vicinity of Lhakhang. Tshetar animals are purchased and released to safe place; it is an act of compassion practiced by many Bhutanese.

The environment here is so friendly and warm that many of the wild goats, wild birds like Himalayan Monal come in search of the food.

If you still have energy you can hike further and enjoy the quiet and tranquil hike which leads to many of the retreat houses.

Hike Through Chagri Monastery

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