Thinley Namgay  

By the end of June next year, Gasa Tshachhu (hot spring) will be ready to receive visitors if redevelopment plans go as expected.

The restoration work, executed by the Gasa dzongkhag administration is in its eighth month. The tshachhu was completely damaged when Mochhu flooded on August 26 last year.

The river diversion task is 90 percent completed. It is expected to be complete by the end of this year.  A double boulder wall is in place to ensure that Mochhu doesn’t flood the hot spring area.

Tshachhu Manager Tandin Dorji said, “The height of the wall is four times higher than the level of water and the width of the wall is 6 metres.  We are confident that flooding won’t recur at the site.”

The boulder wall beside tshachhu is also constructed to prevent landslides. Ground levelling work is also in progress.

The flood last year destroyed five ponds, a resting place, an outlet for local produce, a Jangchub Choeten (stupa) and a public toilet.

Tandin Dorji said the restoration work is targeted to end by June next year. “The new design of the tshachhu site will be a bit different.”

Each soaking pond had a structure and  congested the area. “Now the eight ponds will be made within two structures,” Tandin Dorji said. 

Workers had a hard time identifying sources of the hot spring after the flood.  However, they managed to find them and have made four temporary sources.

There is a wooden soaking container today which can accommodate six people at a time.  However, it is not open to the public as the site is still not safe.

According to locals, Gasa hot spring is believed to cure skin problems, joint and body pains, and digestive disorders, among others. People across the country visit the place.

Gasa dzongkhag used to earn at least Nu 2.5 million in a season (December to February) from renting out guest houses to visitors.

However, after the pandemic and flood, the revenue slumped. Business around the hot spring has also been severely affected. Of the four shops, two closed.

Shopkeeper Deki, 60, said that hundreds of residents used to buy from her shop during the tshachhu season. “Now we hardly earn. I am hoping to revive the business as usual. Luckily, I don’t have to pay house rent.”