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In the well o f a Tsachu
Gelephu Tsachu In the well of a tsachu
A lot of people from all parts of Bhutan are travelling all the way to the Gelephu Tsachu (hot springs) to soak away joint pains, stomach aches and skin diseases. But on reaching the Tsachu, 15 kilometres from Gelephu, they were disgusted; the spring water in the four bathwells looked like stagnant soapy water with body dirt floating on the top.
"Instead of curing ailments it looked like we might get more," said the couple as they rushed back to Gelephu. Khandu, another visitor from Thimphu, said that he took a quick dip in the Tsachu by closing his nose after he was forced by his colleagues. "The Tsachu needs to be improved, it needs proper drainage so that the water in the wells can circulate more easily."
The Gelephu dungkhag administration plans the first major renovation since the hot springs were opened to public in 1962.

All the four wells will be replaced with proper ponds and an improved drainage system. The bathwells will be like the Gasa Tsachu. The surrounding area will also be improved with proper retaining walls as the Tsachu is located in the foothills and faces the risk of falling boulders during the monsoon.

The Tsachu gets crowded from December to February every year. People from Bumthang, Trongsa, Zhemgang and also from eastern and western dzongkhags come to soak in the Tsachu. Most of them are rural folk who bring a stock of rations and bedding and stay for about a week. The early birds stay in the three dilapidated guest houses which can house about 40 people. People say that the hot spring relieve their backache and joint pains.


Gelephu Tsachu renovated
Gelephu Tsachu One for all: people soak in one of the wells of the Gelephu hot springs
The Gelephu Tsachu (hot spring) has been given a face lift in the first major renovation after it was opened to public in 1962.

All the five tub wells have been roofed with CGI sheets, the tubs in the wells replaced and the surrounding drainage system improved. Renovated at the cost of Nu. 500,000 by the Gelephu dungkhag administration, the hot springs look better, clean and can accommodate more people than before.

According to the Gelephu dungpa, Chogyal Dago, the tubs of the hot springs were roofed and the surrounding area was also improved with proper retaining walls for the safety of the people as the Tsachu was located in the steep foothills and faces the risk of falling boulders during monsoon. However, one of the tub wells is no more used after the natural outflow of hot water from underneath was lost while renovating its canal. People now use it as a place to change and dump garbage.
Winter being the soaking season, the Tsachu is crowded every day with people from Trashiyangtse, Trashigang, Lhuentse, Bumthang, Trongsa, Zhemgang, Thimphu. Most visitors are rural folks who bring stock of ration and bedding and stay for about a week or so.The early arrivals stay in the three guest houses which can house about 40 people and the rest stay outdoors in tents around the Tsachu area. All the guest houses were also renovated as well as the road leading towards Tsachu from the Gelephu-Zhemgang highway.

The Tsachu is a 15-kilometre drive from Gelephu town and is usually crowded from December to February.

Contributed by Rinzin Wangchuk, Kuensel , Bhutan's National Newspaper 2005


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