Bhutan’s rare mountain festival with adventurous tours and treks to become an annual event
Mount Jomolhari, an important peak with religious significance has come into national limelight after the recent and the first Bhutan’s rare mountain festival with adventurous tours and treks.Mount Jomolhari is about two days walk from the motor able road. A traveler is often surprised by the serene environment of the valley. Despite being far and first of its kind, the festival was a big success and attracted a large number of inhabitants of northern Bhutan, tourists and government officials.
The two-day festival was held at Dangochong, the base camp of Mt. Jhomolhari and the festival ended on October 24. The first day saw traditional Bhutanese dances being uniquely performed by the people of Soe Yutoe and Soe Yaksa. Local products like cheese,chugo (dried cheese), philu (large rectangular cheese slab, normally preffered dried) and tents made from yak wool were beautifully displayed. Sporting events like khuru (dart game), shot put and horse and yak riding competitions were also held.
There were over 100 participants on the second day of the festival. Many participants trekked to glaciers and lakes around bases of mountains Jhomolhari, Jichudrakey and Tsherimgang.
The festival has key messages on promoting eco-tourism and creating awareness on protection of snow leopard. The committee to protect snow leopard was formed last year and comprised 18 households in Soe Yaksa and 28 households in Soe Yutoe. The festival was also aimed at raising funds for the committee to perform their normal duties. Villagers of the two Soe communities, young and old, dressed in best colorful attire flocked to the valley to attend the festival, which only added more excitement. The very high demand for the festival reinforced the significance of such an event to the mountain communities. Finally, it was decided that Mt. Jomolhari festival will become an annual event. The officials of the Jigme Dorji National Park will be the organizers, annually.
“It’s more like a get together, a tsechu for people of various mountain communities to meet before they make their separate ways for the winters”, said Kesang Om, 49, from Dangochang. “We should have this more often and we get to interact with tourists and officials from Thimphu”, she said. Passing tourists trekking along different trails also stopped en route to participate in the festival.
To create awareness on snow leopard protection, mountain jackets and shirts were donated to the local communities and caps patterend like that of the snow leopards were distributed to students of Dangochang community school. The donations were made by Bhutan Foundation. The foundation also donated about Nu 1.1M for the park officials to organize future festivals.
“To finalize and discuss ways to improve the future festivals, a meeting would be held soon with the tourism stakeholders”, said Chhimi Namgyel, park range officer of Soe.
Several feedbacks from participants and local community have compelled the organizers to make it an annual event hereafter