Hot springs are popularly known as Tshachus in Bhutan
During the 165th National Covid-19 Task Force meeting held on April 5, it decided to permit the opening of hot springs otherwise known as Tshachus.
Scattered across the country, Tshachus are considered sacred and rich in holistic healing properties and a majority of Bhutanese visit hot springs with the hope of getting their diseases cured; however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the hot springs across the country have remained closed.
According to the notification issued to the incident commanders, the task forces are further requested to enforce business timing as per the notification from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“Manageable group size at the hot springs must be ensured as most of the visitors are from the vulnerable groups,” the notification stated.
Further, the dzongkhag incident commanders and the task forces were also requested to ensure the use of health facilities (HFS) for data recording.
Some of the popular Tshachus in the country are the Gasa Tshachu and Duenmang Tshachu (also known as the Kheng Tshachu) in Zhemgang, Dhur Tshachu in Bumthang, Gelephu Tshachu, and Chubu Tshachu in Punakha. The Duenmang Tshachu is situated on the banks of Mangde chu and the base of the Kamjong hill,
Meanwhile, on January 25, as a preventive measure and also due to the increasing Covid-19 cases in the country and in the nearby districts, the Punakha Dzongkhag Covid-19 Taskforce decided to close the Chhubu and Koma Tshachu in Punakha.
Business Bhutan interviewed some people on what they felt about the reopening of the hotsprings. Many welcomed the news, while some thought it was too early for the reopening.
Aum Choden, 75-year-old and a regular tshachu visitor said that she is happy with the news but worried about the virus as most of the visitors are old age people with comorbidities.
“Although the government says that group size in the Tshachu should be less, who will monitor? Bhutanese people will not follow the protocols and it can be risky for the aged people,” said Kinga Lhamo, a businesswoman.
With the increasing number of positive cases in the country and now with the reopening of the Tshachu, the virus will spread like a wildfire, said a resident of Punakha.
“I am happy that finally the Tshachus are being reopened and hope that people visiting the Tshachus will follow health protocols,” said Aum Pema.
The origin of hot springs in Bhutan dates back to 746 AD during the visit of Guru Rinpoche.
Chencho Dema from Punakha