Friday, October 25, 2019

Bone Healing Menchu in Paro

For thousands of years mankind has been looking for the Fountain of Youth, we don’t know if some people found it and kept it a secret or may be it’s not even there. But our forefathers in Paro have found another sort of fountain that is known to have bone healing power. It's called Bjagoed Menchu located several kilometres from Paro Bonday toward Chelela.

Legend has it that a vulture (Bjagoed in Dzongkha) with a broken wing had landed near the small spring and it was seen dipping its injured wing in the spring water from time to time. After a few days, it’s said that the bird was completely healed and flew away like it never was injured. The story spread far and wide about the healing power in that water, and people with fractured bones visited the spring to take hotstone bath. Thus, it came to be known as Bjagoed Menchu.

The legendary spring, fenced and preserved

Bird borns are scientifically known to be very strong and hard to break but once broken they are hard to heal unlike human bones, therefore the legend seems to have solid scientific foundation.  

Traditionally, people brought fracture patients to the Menchu and spend days to weeks in privately set up camps. They brought their tents and utensils, collected firewood, heated stone themselves and bathe for hours. The only things they need not bring were water and the tub. 

Over the years, with increase in the number of visitors, the sacred site was badly affected; people threw garbage all over, use the pristine forest as toilet and fell trees for firewood and tent poles. The community around there raised the alarm and sort urgent intervention from the local leaders.







Bathhouses on the left, Canteen in the centre and hostel on the right.



Now, with funds from Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conversation and other global donors, the place has be modified into a community business with a sustainable model around it. There are eight bathhouses with a wooden tub each, and corresponding guesthouse for each bathhouse, common toilet, and canteen. 

Hostel/Guesthouses were filled with people with various fractures

It was her third day when I visited and she shared that her leg was feeling much lighter. Seeing so many people on clutches around I asked if they were healing well, to which she said that even some paralysis patients who came on wheelchair went back walking unassisted. 
Outdoor sitting space for patients and families 
The facility is outsourced to a local who has hired several staff to provide services like heating the stone, feeding the tubs with hot stone, cleaning the tubs in the evening, maintaining the toilet facility, managing the waste and running the canteen. It’s a rural spa.


Bathhouse with modern tech to assist the initial heating of the water. Stone heating oven on the right.

I was there to see my cousin who has injured her leg again. The same leg had sustained permanent damage from the accident some fifteen years ago. This was her second visit and was staying for a week with her daughter helping her around. 
Of course the Canteen
They say that the Menchu is good not just for healing fractures but all sort of bone related issues. So if you are planning to go or take your parents there, following are some logistic info I gather:

For stay-in visitors, one bathhouse with a guest house cost Nu.1200 a day. As many as five members of a family can share the room and the bathhouse for one price. You can use the bathhouse from 8 AM to 5 PM in the evening. After 5 PM the service is open to day visitors who don’t stay overnight.

For day visitors, who don't stay over, one bathhouse for three hours is Nu.800. And you are encouraged to come after 5 PM, when stay-in visitors resign to their hostel.

Hostel rooms have plug points for you to bring your cooking appliances. You can order food from the canteen. Chilled beer is served as well.

For booking and inquires call Kuenchap 17922229

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