Duenmang Tshachu/ Duenmang Hot Spring

Description  

Duenmang Tshachu or Duenmang hot spring is located on a steep hill of Kamjong in Nangkor gewog under Zhemgang district. At the bottom of the cliff flows the Mangdechhu.

People refer to the hot spring as Kheng Tshachu because, geographically, it is located in the center of the Kheng region. It is one and half hour drive south from Tingtibi town to a place called Praling. From there, visitors either hire ponies or local porters to carry their luggage and necessary items and start descending down a steep cliff side and takes approximately 45 minutes to one hour to reach the hot spring. The actual hot spring is on a cliff ledge and does not have much open space and visitors have to be extra cautious and vigilant while maneuvering the descent. If one misses a step and topples, the person will fall headlong into the Mangdechhu. However, many people visit the hot spring as it is believed to cure joint pain, sinusitis, headache, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

Duenmang village is one of the remotest villages in the Kheng region, since it is not connected by a motor road. It takes at least 5 hours to walk from the hot spring to reach the village. The area is covered with thick forest and inhabited by all kinds of wildlife.

History

No one knows when the hot spring started flowing because there is no record of its origin. According to oral sources, it is said that the origin of the hot spring could be traced back to 8th century A.D. So, the belief is that it was sanctified by Guru Rinpoche. The local people say that the Tshachu used to be in Sitala Pong, which is around two-hour walk uphill from the current location. The trace of the earlier location is still evident at Sitala Pong.

As per the informant’s narration, people from all over the country used to visit the Tshachu in olden days because of favorable weather conditions, especially during the winter season and its geographical location. In those days, even important people like the Trongsa Penlop (governor) and Dzongpons used to visit the hot springs, and the people of Duenmang had to receive them with so much ceremony. The local people had to take care of all the logistics of their visits and they had to see off the visitors as well with much ceremony when they left the place. Over time, the local people got tired of these visits, and the hot spring actually became a burden on the people. Thus, it is said that they decided to destroy the Tshachu by dumping dead bodies, excretions and other filth in the pond, which desecrated the sacredness of the hot spring and it is believed that the hot spring dried up at Sitala Pong.

Later, the present Tshachu was spotted by a hunter from Duenmang village, who was the descendent of the Goling Dung (lord of Goling area). His ancestor had settled in Duenmang village. It is said that one day while the hunter was in the forest, he saw some animals’ foot prints and he followed the footprints which led him from Duenmang down to the Mangde chhu. That’s when he spotted the hot spring near the Mangde chhu. Since then, the people of Duenmang and people from nearby places started visiting this hot spring.

Presently, in Duenmang Tshachu, there are four soaking ponds and two two-storey guest houses. The first guest house was built in the year 2010 funded by Royal Government Bhutan. Since the existing guest houses could not accommodate the increasing number of national and international visitors, another guesthouse was built in 2016. The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, Zhemgang Forest Division funded the construction. The new facility consists of a guesthouse, a neykhang (residence of local deity), bathrooms, water taps, and a new footpath within the Tshachu area covered by a canopy and secured with railings. Six new soaking ponds were built besides improving the existing ponds.

Efficacy of Hot Spring

In Bhutan, hot spring is considered a Menchhu, which means medicinal water. In olden days when there was no modern medicine, most Bhutanese used hot spring as therapy to treat many diseases. It is believed that all hot spring in Bhutan are sanctified by the Buddha and Buddhisattavas in order to eradicate all types of defilements and diseases. Besides, hot springs are commonly used for recreation and relaxation in Bhutan.

According to the Bhutanese belief in Sowa Rigpa (traditional medical science) and Drungtsho (traditional doctor), the hot springs contain a combination of rdo-sol (coal), mu-zi (sulphur) and rdo-sho (lime stone). Because of the presence of these minerals, the hot springs are considered to be medicinal water.

The first pond is on the edge of cliff ledge that drops down to Mandge chhu river and its temperature is 45˚C. In the traditional medicine textbook, it is mentioned that (ma-zhu-ba’i nad dang me-drod skyed, bad-kan lhen dang lcags-dreg sel, dreg-grub grang-ba’i nad la phan) if a person soaks in the first pond, ailments such as digestion problem and dyspepsia, bone tuberculosis, chickenpox, urinary tract infection (UTI) and other non-communicable diseases will be cured. The second pond is the hottest amongst the ponds with 53˚C, and it is helpful in curing stomachache, headache, all kinds of skin diseases and arthritis. The temperature of the third pond is 51˚C and it is helpful in curing jaundice, migraine and headache (in the textbook of traditional medicine it says mkhris-pa’i nad dang mgu nad la phan). The fourth pond is 52°c and it is believed to cure skin diseases, rashes, chickenpox, and urinary tract infection (UTI) and other STI diseases (according to the traditional medicine text book it says pag-pa’i nad dang dreg-grub nad, rtsa-dkar nad dang grang-ba’i nad la phan).

Many people believe that there are numerous benefits such as improve blood circulation, treat skin infections and make skin smooth and soft, reduce stress, boost the immune system and also helpful in detoxifying the body through sweating if one soaks in the hot spring. Therefore, soaking in hot spring is considered a natural therapy for treating many ailments and diseases.

Informant

Tashi Tobgay, caretaker of Duenmang Tshachu.

References

  • Pema, D.(2009) Indigenous Facts of Bhutan. The national museum of Bhutan
  • Pasang Yonten, A.(1998) Dictionary of Tibetan Materia Medica

Researcher

SangayThinley, Lecturer, College of Language and Culture Studies, Taktse, Trongsa, Royal university of Bhutan, Taktse, 2018.

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