History & location
The Cheri Goemba monastery is one of the oldest or rather first Bhutan's Buddhist monastery located near Mt Cheri and borders the Thimphu City 14 kilometres to the north in Bhutan. Known for its famous hiking route, the Cheri monastery was built in 1620 by Ngawang Namgyal who spent more than three years in strict retreat and later dedicated the rest of his life in the monastery.
It was during this time that Zhabdrung established the first Drukpa monastic order. His father’s ashes were spread and inhumed in a richly decorated silver Tibetan chorten in the inside of the upper chambers of Cheri Goemba soon after the body got smuggled from Tibet.
The hike to the Monastery
The hike/trek towards the monastery typically takes approximately one hour from the bridge for hikers but more for non-hikers. The journey uphill may be a bit tiring, but the final overall view is totally worth the climb. The trail begins by crossing a nicely covered bridge that spans around the Wang Chhu and then heads up steadily up to the monastery. The steep trail is wholly defined and scenic, and you have the chance to breathe through the cool, breezy fresh air under the trees as you head up.
The place is serene, tranquil and beautiful. This is because the site is only visited once in a while by Buddhists who come to pray and meditate to get blessings. The view from the top is mesmerizing, scintillating and breathtaking as you can have the one in a lifetime view of the river flowing below.
Once up, your little hiking adventure will be awarded the chance to embrace the atmosphere of the Cheri Monastery with quite a few ornate temples. No photography is allowed inside. Therefore you have to climb to get a view of how it looks in the inside. Going down basically takes 20-30 minutes and its entirely your choice to go while absorbing the beauty of the trees and the natural ecology at large.
The present state of Cheri Goemba
The monastery presently acts as a significant retreat and teaching centre for the southern Tibetan Buddhism school. People from all walks of life come to tour the historic scenery while still taking some time to learn its history and the religious doctrines. The site is also known to have about 30 monks who ensure safety and are also in charge of the religious activities in the monastery. These monks are also entrusted with taking care and maintaining the monastery.
Due to its rich history, Pictorial view and impressive hiking adventure, the Cheri Goemba monastery has become a favoured tourist destination especially for learners who are interested in learning the Buddhist philosophy. The place is also an essential venue for meditation, hikes retreats and studies.