Jhomolhari festival the first ever national mountain fest

The base of Bhutan’s prominent mountain, Jhomolhari will be jam packed with visitors and the people from the local communities on October 23 to celebrate the first ever mountain festival in the country.

Dedicated to the pristine snow-capped mountain Jhomolhari, 28 households from Thimphu and 18 households from Soe are scheduled to gather in Soe Dangochong to celebrate and share their unscathed environment and culture to the visitors.

The festival organizers hope to fully engage the local people, schools and various institutions during the festival, which is expected to garner the goodwill and support of both the local people and the tourists toward the conservation of the environment and the home for snow leopard.

The highlight of the festival is expected to be the yak rides and trekking with native guides as they are well familiarized with the finest sightseeing spots in Soe gewog.

Other attractions include cultural performances which includes folk dances, and traditional handicraft exhibition to entertain the large congregation of spectators by local communities.

The families in the gewog will also host visitors at their homes as a part of a homestay programme, and cook local delicacies using the produce from their organic kitchen gardens. The local hosts will be paid by the visitors for the food and lodging provided to them.

The festival, according to the organizers, is aimed at educating people on the need for conservation of the environment and to promote Soe gewog under Thimphu as one of the potential tourism destinations in Bhutan.

A forester with the Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP) Chhimi Namgyel said with the introduction of Soe gewog to tourists through such festivals, it will attract and encourage more visitors to come, and that will indirectly benefit the local populace.

He said as per Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) estimate, more than 100 tourists will visit Soe gewog every year. “Introducing mountain festival would double the number of tourists,” Chhimi added.

The festival, which is also a part of snow leopard conservation project, hopes to educate the communities in conservation of the indigenous species and its habitat.

Chhimi also said the visitors and communities would be educated on the importance of waste management. “If proper management of such garbage is not done, it will lead to pollution of the pristine mountain environment and the unadulterated mountain will soon bear the brunt of human carelessness and will soon be strewn with all sorts of trash, junks, waste and rubbish.”

The unique mountain festival is organized jointly by JDNP, Bhutan Foundation & Nature Recreation and Eco-Tourism Division.

It will be an annual festival if it turns out to be a boon for the communities.

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