Hiking to Domendrel Tsho through the trail where six boys were lost


Domendrel hiking trail is one of the most popular short hiking trails in Thimphu

Hiking is gaining popularity in Bhutan

While the borders in Bhutan are closed for international tourism, domestic tourism is getting increasingly popular. Bhutanese, especially the urbanites living in Thimphu are constantly seeking for weekend getaways and staycations. Some popular weekend activities include delving into the woods and hiking up to the mountains.

Tour operators are organising hiking tours and there are also various groups formed by the hiking community. Of the many short hiking trails in the capity city of Thimphu, Domendrel Hiking trail is one of the most popular trails. The trails are icy and trekkers will be snow-covered until the knee-length, making it a surreal experience. These picturesque hotspots that are highly instagrammable and it have help to boost the locals' interests in hiking.

How to get to Domendrel

Tango Monastery Base 

Domendrel hike starts from the base of Tango Monastery. The monastery is considered one of Bhutan’s historical monasteries. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu school of Buddhism. For the record, Tango Monastery is one of the highest Buddhist Learning Centers in Bhutan. It houses some important relics related to the Kagyu tradition. The hikers will need to pass by the Tango Monastery and hike for another four to five hours to reach Domendrel. Many hikers will opt to do the day-hike to Domendrel.

What is the story behind the Domendrel Trai?

Domendrel hike is said to be an evergreen hiking trail. You will traverse through dense forests to reach the top of the mountain at an elevation of 4000m above sea level. Throughout the trail, you'll be walking through diverse flora and fauna and fluttering prayer flags. The main landmark of the trail is the Domendrel Tsho (Sacred Lake). You'll also be treated with amazing views of Thimphu city from the top. There's also a small temple located at the hilltop. If you are lucky, you'll even get treated to the breathtaking views of Gasa Dzong and Punakha. That'll be one of the best rewards after an exhausting hike.

Trekker enjoying the view from the hilltop (source: Guide Tshering)

Aside from the pristine nature, Domendrel became well-known to many Bhutanese due to the tragic incident where six boys got lost while hiking to Domendrel Tsho in 1996. Based on the true story, a movie titled, 'Six Boys' was released in 2003. Thus, the lake is associated with the six Bhutanese school boys who lost their ways while hiking on the trail. 

The Lake below the Temple  (source: Guide Tshering) 

The story goes that in the summer of 1996, six boys went to visit the lake and disrupted the peace of the lake, thus, infuriating the local deity. Bhutanese believes that places like lakes and mountains are sacred and should be treated with respect. Behaviours such as swimming in the sacred water, making loud noises, burning trashes or meat near the lake would upset the spirits.

In the movie '6 Boys', the boys were seen disrupting the lake by throwing stones into it and making loud noises. As a consequence, they witnessed heavy rainfall and caused the area to become extremely foggy. This resulted in them getting lost in the woods and four of them, all pale and sick , eventually made their way and were found in Punakha, two of them failed to make it out alive.

It was because of this tragedy that the Domendrel trail became popular. Though the place is not promoted as a tourist attraction, due to its potential trekking and camping landscape, tour operators are exploring the possibility of making it a tourist destination.

Albeit its increasing popularity, Dhomendrel is considered a less explored paradise for nature lovers. It's a perfect short getaways in Thimphu. Check it out before it gets even more popular.

View from the top of the mountain

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