Domendrel Tsho, the lake where the 6 boys got lost.
February 18, 2020
Distance: 10 km Time: 5 hours
At an altitude of about 4000m above sea level, next to a small temple, lies the Domendrel Tsho, famous for the story of the six boys. The story follows the journey of six boys who went to visit the lake and according to hearsay, disrupted the peace of the lake thus infuriating the local deity. This caused the area to become extremely foggy and the boys were lost in the woods where two of them supposedly lost their lives. The rest of the boys made their way to Punakha after about a week or so. This is a famous story in Bhutan and a Bhutanese movie titled “6 boys” has also been made based on it.
Knowing the story well and with anxious feelings, we hiked to Domendrel on an early Saturday morning sometime in October. The hike starts from the base of Tango monastery and takes about 5 hours till the lake. The path is relatively steep but rich in flora and one can get magnificent views of Thimphu city on a clear day.
View of Thimphu city
About 20 minutes before reaching the lake, there is a hilltop where there were mound of rocks stacked in the shape of a chorten (Bhutanese stupa). This rock is believed to be a blessed mandala offering and is hence called the Domendrel which can be translated to “Mandala Rock”.
Lots of prayer flags were hoisted in the area surrounding the rocks. We Bhutanese believe that prayer flags should be hoisted at areas with strong winds because the mantras on the flags will be blown by the wind and the blessings will spread to all sentient beings in the area. This place provides the perfect place to hoist prayer flags so do take them on your journey if you’re a believer. Despite the chill, the view of nature and the colorful prayer flags provide a peaceful location for a break. After resting for a while, we hiked down towards the lake.
Lhakhang (temple) near the lake
As we approached the lake, the place started becoming foggy. We decided to eat while waiting for the weather to clear up. At that moment, there were some monks visiting and they offered milk into the lake along with recitation of prayers. I’m generally not a religious or superstitious person but when the sky started clearing up immediately as the monks continued with their prayers, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the deity got offended that we didn’t have any offerings. So, if you visit the lake, make sure to light some incense and offer milk into the lake. For the peace of your mind, of course.
Monks offering their prayers to the deity of the lake
From afar, you can see the reflection of the prayer flags and the bushes on the surface of the lake so it appears dark. But as you get closer, you can see a slight red tint. There is a rock towards one side of the lake with a pathway leading to it, perfect for photographs. However, in summer, it might be submerged under water.
Perhaps the story at the back of my mind or the red tint caused my imagination to run wild, I felt an eerie stillness in the atmosphere as I got closer to the lake. The more I stared at the lake, the creepier it felt. But a little spook is what makes this place all the more charming and worthwhile. As for the weather, even in October, it was really chilly so warm clothes is a must because of the high altitude. Wouldn’t recommend visiting it in colder seasons. Other than that, take your friends, an open mind and get yourself beautiful photos from the trip to this place.