The Royal Academy

Tshonapata Lake is part of the Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve, the one and only in the Kingdom. The reserve area is home to endangered snow leopards, wood snipe birds, rare white poppies and many other plant and animal species. A sacred place for the people of the region, they believe it is where the local deity, Ap Chundu resides.

This is one of the treks that explore the western region, and not many tourists have been there since it opened for foreign visitors in 2007. The frequent visitors on the paths are the highland nomads in search of pasture for their yaks, and the forest rangers assessing and protecting the habitat of exotic flora and fauna. It starts and ends in the breathtaking and beautiful Haa valley. The pristine and mysterious lake called Tshonapata was the highlight of the trek. This is the lake that connects Terton Sherab Mebar, the Paro Rinpung Dzong and Ap Chundu.

It is a place rich in myths and legends. It is said that the Terton swallowed the entire lake to extract the sacred treasure (ritual instruments: drum, drum stick, trumpets and a pair of cymbals). Somehow, the lake escaped from the mouth of the Terton and started chasing him. The Terton dropped the treasures one by one to distract the deity of the lake. Wherever the ritual instruments landed, a lake magically appeared: and thus Nga Tso, Dung Tso, and similar other small lakes dot the area. At a place now called Chundu Laptsa, the deity is said to have caught up with the Terton, and Ap Chundu negotiated between the two. An understanding was made between the terton and the deity of the lake. It is also said that the people from Paro Pangbisa (the main temple dedicated to the terton) from that day on would not cross the “Laptsa” into Haa, nor the people from Haa would be allowed to step over to Paro. However, the terton is said to have taken with him a pair less cymbal, which is now one of the main relics in the Paro Dzong. It is exhibited to the public only on auspicious days.