How i found out about Tango and Cherri
Diamonds are discovered by chance and some luck had fallen upon me when I picked up a not-so- restaurant shop for lunch.
Experiencing the prayer session at Changangkha Monastery was pure bliss. I descended the stairs to reach the main road. Famished, I could see a restaurant in a building on the main road, I was about to get in when I saw another board tucked in the corner of the same building.
It was a small shop run by a woman, I had the most delicious Ema datshi, Momos and Eze (chili sauce) of my life there.
We struck a conversation with a local who spoke flawless English and was a guide for French tourists. Tasty food makes conversation easier, I guess. He was pleased when I told him that Bhumthang is on our itinerary and we are going there without hiring any guide or taxi. He guessed that we were looking for non-touristy and untouched experiences. He suggested us to go to Tango and Cherri.
I had my plans charted out for the day and I had not heard or read about these two monasteries, however, it needed no further convincing when he mentioned that I would not find tourists there. Tango and Cherri have religious importance and is considered holy by Bhutanese people.
Tango and Cherri are tucked some 15 KMs away from Thimpu, nestled high in the mountains. He told us that monks cut themselves off from the world and spend almost 8 years, 8 months and 8 days to study Buddhism. They renounce the worldly interactions and do not venture out. Only after they have graduated, they return to the world. He jokingly mentioned that the world is changing at such a fast pace that people end up being delusional after coming back to the city.
He excited us enough to change our plans and we ended up hiring a cab to take us there.
Hiking up to Cherri
Taxi driver left us near a bridge adjacent to a small monastery from where we started hiking. The monastery was out of sight; our taxi driver assured that there was only one way to go up so we would not be lost. We decided to trek for Cherri first and thought if we could reach back in time then we would start for Tango.
It took us almost 1 hour 25 minutes to reach the top. It was ‘the best feeling’. The serenity and beauty of this place had struck me. Walking in a forest blossoming with colorful flowers is more lively and of worth than sitting in an office looking out of a glass window into a concrete jungle. I could see the infinite zigzag of mountains, divided by a river while trudging up the slope. It was raining intermittently that made the hike more beautiful. it was such a bliss when it was drizzling and I could hear rain droplets falling on leaves and then on the ground. There was no noise, fresh air, no people. I was meeting nature in its purest form.
After reaching the top, I could see animals which are reared by the monks living in the monastery. There is the main temple and there are living quarters, I was afraid of intruding the privacy; I talked to a monk and he was more than welcome to let us go and explore the monastery. I went to the topmost floor and could see mountains merging with the horizon as if they go on till infinity.
Monks hike up and down daily and I wondered on how difficult it is. After spending some time and trying to build a friendship with the animals, we started our descent. It took twenty minutes to get down. It was already 5:30 pm when we reached the base where our driver was patiently waiting. He was surprised, he had thought that we would take one more hour.
It was almost dusk and with a heavy heart, we decided to give Tango a miss.
We encountered only one couple during our trek. If you are looking for places of real heritage value which are not thronged by tourists, it is the place to go. If I am asked to pick one memory from my three days at Thimpu, I would pick my hike to heaven, Cherri.