A mountain festival will be celebrated by local communities and visitors for the second time at the base of Bhutan’s prominent mountain, Jumolhari, for two full days starting from October 8. The festival aims to promote ecotourism opportunities in the Jumolhari region, showcase local culture and tradition and to encourage yak herding and dairy produce.
Following the successful program held last year, dedicated to the pristine snow capped mountain, Jumolhari, more than 28 households from Naro and more than 20 households from Soe gathered in Soe Dangochong to uphold and showcase their wondrous environment and culture to the visitors.
This year, the villagers from Nubri under Tsento Gewog, Paro is set to take part in the festival along with the communities of Soe and Naro.
The local people, schools and various institutions are fully involved in the festival. Awareness on high land biodiversity conservation and waste management and promotion of wildlife conservation through community support will be highlighted during the festival.
The limelights of the festival are the yak riding and trekking activities to the finest sights in Soe guided by the natives.
Visitors would also witness the cultural performances including folk dances and traditional handicraft exhibition by the local communities to entertain the large congregation of spectators.
In addition, the communities will also host the visitors in the home stays and cook local food from their own kitchen. The food options depend on what is growing in the kitchen gardens.
Accordingto the organizers, the mountain festival is aimed at promoting Soe Gewog under Thimphu as a potential tourism destination. The Park Range Officer of Soe Park Range, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park (JDWNP), Kezang Dorji, said the festival has helped attract more visitors to the gewog, and in creating a source of income for the local people.
Last year, the festival was initiated as a part of a snow leopard conservation project that would educate communities in conservation of snow leopard and its habitat.
Soe Gewog has a diversity of flora and fauna, and therefore, the festival aims to actively engage the communities in all stages of the snow leopard conservation program.
Kezang Dorji said the importance of waste management is one of the messages being passed in the festival. He said that while the communities greet tourists to the unspoiled land, they should also be mindful of the wastes coming in and be responsible to control it at an initial stage and avoid pollution of the pristine mountain environment.
This unique festive event is organized jointly by JDWNP, Bhutan Foundation and Nature Recreation and Eco-Tourism Division. The festival is to be held every year if it continues to benefit the local communities.
The participants registered with JDWNP and other visitors are planning to walk for three days from Shana, Paro to reach the festival site at Jumolhari.