Chungse-Azhe-Gyalzom-Lhakhang.jpg

The Divine Madman and Lingmukha

Trip Duration
5 Days
Grading
Activity Level
Challenging
Ascent & Descent
 5,974 m
Max Elevation
3,180 m

Summary

Follow in the footsteps of Lama Drukpa Kuenley as you walk the “Divine Madman Trail”, enjoying diverse flora and fauna and scenic views along the way. Your hike will lead you along pristine rivers and deep into rich forests as you go.


Itinerary

Before the national highway was built, this gentle rising part of the trail was once a main thoroughfare between Thimphu and Punakha and the rest of the eastern regions of Bhutan. In more recent history, the central monastic body used this route while traveling to its winter residence in Punakha and back to Thimphu during the summer. Start your day with an ascent from Simtokha where the first Dzong of the country is located. The trial gently rises and keeps ascending until Dochula Pass where you spend your night. On the way, there aren’t any restaurants, so we recommend you to take a simple packed lunch like sandwiches. Upon reaching Dochula Pass, you can visit the Druk Wangyal cafeteria for some nice hot tea and coffee with pastries.

Simtokha Dzong

In 1629, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel constructed Simtokha Dzong. Sangnga Zabdon Phodrang is another name for it. The Dzong was inspired by Gyal Gyed Tshel, a Buddhist institute in Ralung, Tibet. With twelve sides, the Utse is one of a kind. Inside the Utse is a massive statue of Yeshey Gonpo (Mahakala), Bhutan’s chief protective deity. Numerous statues and paintings can be seen throughout the Dzong, including the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpochoe, Jampelyang (Manjushiri), the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, and many others.

Druk Wangyal Chorten

It was commissioned by Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to celebrate the success of Operation All Clear and to honor the soldiers who lost their lives for the King and country. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo successfully led the operation in 2003 against an Assamese insurgent in the southern stretch of the country. 

Druk Wangyal Lhakhang

It was built in the honor of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck and to commemorate 100 year of Monarchy in Bhutan. The painting in this Lhakhang is a unique fusion of modern and centuries old techniques. Modern painting themes can be sighted in the painting of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo leading the troops into battle.

Druk Wangyal Tshechu

Druk Wangyal Tshechu  is unlike the other traditional festivals in the country. It is performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or laymen. Established in 2011, it is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty and celebration of the continuous efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country.

Trek Distance: 15.5 kilometres (9.63 miles)
Estimated Duration: 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 170 metres (558 feet)
Starting Elevation: 3,100 metres (10,171 feet)
Ending Elevation: 2,318 metres (7,605 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 3,180 metres (10,433 feet)

Accommodation Recommendation: Hotel or camping option

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Dochula Pass is known to be the best spot for sunrise view with the sun glaring upon the Himalayan mountain ranges. We recommend setting your alarms early to get the perfect sunrise which starts at around 5 in the morning. The best season to get the perfect morning sunrise and the panoramic view of the Himalayan range would be between the beginning of winter and spring seasons. After breakfast, begin descending down into the valley. This part of the trail belongs to the larger trail that was used by The Divine Madman Drukpa Kuenley to spread the dharma teachings by suppressing evil energies and fulfilling his legacy. Along the trail there are two places as an option to pre order lunch but carrying simple packed lunches like sandwiches is highly recommended, as there are many picnic lunch spots deep in the nature. After lunch, continue descending all the way until Toeb Chandana. We recommend you to spend the night at the Famous House of Toeb Chandana where The Divine Madman fulfilled his legacy.

Toeb Chandana Lhakhang

It was built in the 15th century and served as the religious seat of Ngawang Chogyal. Ap Khandu explains that it was built to ward off the evil energy of a demoness. The two hills on the opposite end of the temple appearing like knees are believed to be her knees. Lam Drukpa Kuenley’s arrow of destiny landed on the eleven-stepped wooden ladder of Toeb Chandana House. Lam shot the arrow from Tibet after the spiritual deity Palden Lhamo appeared in his dreams and instructed him to seek his destiny in the south. Lama Drukpa Kuenley journeyed to Bhutan in the 16th century and found his way to the village and the house. Dressed like a hunting beggar, Lama started courting Pelzang Bhuti, wife of Toep Tshewang. In his jealous rage, Toep Tshewang drew a sword at Lama Drukpa Kuenley but Lama miraculously knotted the sword. Real­izing that the beggar was no or­di­nary being, Toep Tshewang offered his wife to fulfill Lama Drukpa Kuenley’s prophecy. Since then the vil­lage has been known as Chan­dhana which translates to arrow. 

Trek Distance: 13.5 kilometres (8.39 miles)
Estimated Duration: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 50 metres (164 feet)
Starting Elevation: 3,114 metres (10,217 feet)
Ending Elevation: 1,560 metres (5,118 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 3,114 metres (10,217 feet)

Ideal Lunch Spot: Lumitsawa or Thinleygang

Accommodation Recommendation: Homestay or camping option 
 

 

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Begin your day with a decent ascend from Toeb Chandana until Sew Drangsa offering you scenic views throughout the trail. In more recent history, the central monastic body used this route while traveling to its winter residence in Punakha and back to Thimphu during the summer. Sew Drangsa, an open space marked with prayer flags was the exact spot where the monk body used to have their lunch during their journey. Make a quick stop at the café at Sew Drangsa for some refreshments if you aren’t carrying any. From there on, the trail takes you straight to the Punakha Dzong offering scenic views of the valley and Punatsangchhu during the entire course of the trail. So, we recommend you to carry simple packed lunches like sandwiches. If not, the best place to have your lunch would be at the restaurants located across Punakha Dzong or Mendelgang.

We recommend you to take your gho and kira to stop for a quick visit at the Punakha Dzong. After the visit, walk through the suspension bridge over the Phochhu to Mendelgang where you will be spending your night.

Punakha Dzong

It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal around 1638 at the confluence of two rivers Phochhu (male river) and Mochhu (female river), houses Bhutan’s most treasured relic, the Rangjung Kharsapani. Guru Rinpoche had prophesied about this Dzong which would be built by a man named Namgyal who would arrive at a hill resembling an elephant. So, when Zhabdrung arrived at Punakha, he chose the tip of the trunk of the sleeping elephant where the current Dzong is, as the perfect site to build. Despite withstanding Tibetan invasions, it has suffered numerous fires, floods and glacial lake bursts.

Pungthang Dechen Phodrang now popularly referred to as Punakha Dzong served as the capital and seat of the Government until early 1950s. The coronation of His Majesty the First Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck took place in this very majestic Dzong. It currently serves as the winter residence for the monk body.

Trek Distance: 13.5 kilometres (8.39 miles)
Estimated Duration: 9 hours
Elevation Gain: 195 metres (640 feet)
Starting Elevation: 1,560 metres (5,118 feet)
Ending Elevation: 1,225 metres (4,019 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 1,778 metres (5,834 feet)

Ideal Lunch Spot: Punakha Dzong or Mendagang

Accommodation Recommendation: Homestay or hotel

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Limbukha Lhakhang

The locals believe that the Lhakhang is the seat of the great Treasure Discoverer, Terton Pema Lingpa and his lineage. Oral history explains that Dorjee Lingpa arrived in Lingmukha in the 14th century, built the Lhakhang and settled there along with his disciples. The Great Master is said to have discovered many ters (Treasures) in the village. According to some historical records King Gesar of Ling, he is also believed to have visited the Limbukha. The current structure was renovated in 2014 by the local community.

Trek Distance: 12.25 kilometres (7.61 miles)
Estimated Duration: 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,123 metres (3,685 feet)
Starting Elevation: 1,225 metres (4,019 feet)
Ending Elevation: 2,144 metres (7,034 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 2,190 metres (7,185 feet)

Accommodation Recommendation: Camping option 

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Chungse Azhe Gyalzom Lhakhang

During the 15th century, Lam Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the Divine Madman visited Azhi Gyalzom’s place in Chungserkha. It is believed that he threw a Chan-do (a flat disc-like stone) from Sha Kuenzangling on the other side of the valley. Afterwards, he went searching for the stone and is said to have come across it at the base of a cypress tree below Azhi Gyalzom’s house at Chungserkha. A small temple was later built on top of the ruins of Azhi Gyalzom’s house. 

Trek Distance: 17.2 kilometres (10.69 miles)
Estimated Duration: 8 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,286 metres (4,219 feet)
Starting Elevation: 2,144 metres (7,034 feet)
Ending Elevation: 1,952 metres (6,405 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 2,535 metres (8,317 feet)

Accommodation Recommendation: Camping option 

Meals Included: ZEN_HOLIDAY_NO_MEALS

Additional Activities

Looking for something more? These activities are examples of excursions or activities that are available to travellers that are not included in this trip fee. These activities can be subject to availability. Contact us with any questions regarding these additional activities.

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