Cheri Goemba

in North of Thimphu

From the river confluence at Dodina, a steep trail climbs for 45 minutes through a forest adorned with prayer flags to Cheri Goemba, established by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620 as the home for Bhutan's first monk body. A richly decorated silver chorten inside the upper goemba enshrines the ashes of the Zhabdrung's father, whose body was smuggled here from Tibet. Cheri is an important place for meditation retreats, so try not to disturb anyone.

Cheri's goenkhang (protector chapel) features the two patron protector deities of Cheri and Tango. From the goemba, it's a steep climb (pilgrims aim to do it without pausing) to the Demon-Subjugating Monastery, built into the cliff where the Zhabdrung overcame the local demons. Look for tame brown goral (mountain goats) grazing the monastery grounds.

Monastic cells are scattered up the steep slopes behind the goemba, which is undergoing major reconstruction work. Traditional building materials are hauled here using a steep cableway running down to the bottom of the valley.