Therapeutic Power of the Gasa Hot Springs

Known for its healing powers, the Gasa tshachu attracts about 3,000 visitors every year, making it the most visited places of the country’s largest and least populated district.

One of the nine hotspring ponds in Gasa. (Source: http://www.discoverybhutan.com)

 

By Nima | Kuensel

 

Even at this time of the year when summer is about to start, Gasa Tshachu (hot spring), one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan is frequented by swelling number of visitors.

This is due to improved road connectivity and the age-old wisdom which says that therapeutic benefits from the hot spring double during the blooming season of plants.

Known for its healing powers, the Gasa tshachu attracts about 3,000 visitors every year, making it the most visited places of the country’s largest and least populated district.

One of the nine hotspring ponds is a pay and use facility

Located about an hour’s drive from the dzong, beside the Mo chhu, is the cluster of nine roofed hot spring ponds. A dedicated pay and use pond is also being piloted at the moment.

 

Source: Business Bhutan, Sptoursandtreks, BBS,  Norbuwangdis.blogspot and Druktrails.

 

Started as one of the Good to Great Gasa initiatives in early 2017, the dzongkhag administration charges Nu 500 a person for two hours of usage. It can accommodate up to 10 people and has indoor washrooms and resting facilities.

The Gasa dzongdag, Dorji Dhradhul said that the pay and use pond was started to look into income generation opportunities as the dzongkhag worked towards becoming self-reliant.

“Commercialisation does not mean that everyone coming to Gasa tshachu will have to pay and use. Even if we opt for this development, there will always be a section where the public can avail the hot spring for free,” he said.

He added that the dzongkhag administration is aware of the profile of hotspring users.

“Our long-term aim is to cater the services to tourists, senior officials and those preferring privacy.”

Therapeutic properties of the Gasa tshachu

Visitors throng the place for soaking pleasure. “We always come here around this time of the year because our parents say that the healing benefits of tshachu doubles during the blooming period of plants. I had a sore throat which wasn’t cured even after visiting clinic. But after getting soaked in the tshachu, I feel better,” said another visitor, Deki.

The moderate weather condition is another factor for the swelling crowd at the hot spring.

“Many visitors come at this time of the year because of the pleasant weather. Also, the children are at school and parents manage to get time off for other activities,” said the Manager of Gasa Tshachu, Tandin Dorji.

In 2017, of the total 3,224 visitors that availed the hot spring services, 93 were tourists, the highest number that Gasa tshachu saw in the last five years.

The pay and use pond has to date collected about Nu 50,000. The pond, according to the hot spring committee was mostly availed by tourists and senior officials.

“The resource has huge potential to be a source of income for the dzongkhag. We want to build better facilities, enhance and develop ponds of international standards and convert it into a spot where people can come for a vacation,” Dorji Dhradhul said. “That’s our long-term aim.”

The pay and use pond used to be a changing room for the public. It was converted into a pond after the hot spring committee could not manage and monitor the misuse of the changing room facilities.

Facilities at the Gasa tshachu

The tshachu previously had seven ponds, a VIP pond and a changing room. An open-air concrete wall located close to the ponds serves as the changing room today.

The hot spring’s manager, Tandin Dorji said that the dzongkhag administration is working on making the resource accessible and convenient to the public while also looking into its sustainability.

“We have space but the concern is sustainability and the number of ponds we can add.”

With connectivity to the dzongkhag improving, Gasa tshachu is seeing an increasing number of visitors annually.

Just a year ago, the hot spring ponds were mostly empty. But today, the scenario is entirely different. Every day, an impressive number of visitors soak in the hot spring water.

“With better road condition, we can get to the hot spring in no time. The walkway to the site is convenient and easy for us and children to walk,” said one of the visitors, Chencho Om.

From 1,387 in 2014, the number increased to 2,374 in 2015; 2,560 in 2016; 3,224 in 2017 and 3,029 so far this year.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the new Bhutan Times.


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