Laya Bhutan is a remote village in Gasa District in far north Bhutan
LAYA BHUTAN 3850 m
Coordinates : 28.06362 North: 89.6828 East
4 h 11 min (97.5 km) Punakha to Gasa, and a two day hard trek from Gasa to Laya.
Laya, Bhutan is a remote village in Gasa District in far north Bhutan, very close to the Tibetan border. It is inhabited by the indigenous Layap people, and is the highest inhabited settlement in the Bhutan. The hike from Gasa may be arduous, but its worth the effort.
Inhabited by the Layap tribe, who are akin to Tibetans.. They actually settled from Tibet several centuries ago. Population about 3000, approx 140 households. They call their village the “BEYUL”, or the hidden land. The distinct attire of Layap women wearing conical pointed bamboo hats is so unique, though the men have stopped wearing their original traditional dress. Yaks are herded, which is the main way of sustenance.
Some facts about Laya.
- Theres a Lakhang in the village, one another above.. In 2002, a school was started with 110 students. Above the school is an old temple,..where the Zhabdrung stayed when he first came to Bhutan . Some of his belongings are still there, a precious stone and a big brass jar full of water.
- In 1944, there was a major flood in Laya, glacial of course.
- In 1959-60, Tibetan refugees arrived with the livestock and Layaps bought yaks from them for only Nu 3 or 4 per head!
- Around 700 sheep were given by the government but they all died within 2 months, probably from eating poisonous grass.
- The first tourists arrived in 1987.
- In 1996, solar lighting was installed.
- In 1998, mountains bears attacked yak calves, killing 20-30. In 1999 wild dogs killed several yaks. There are several stories of cats of all sizes attacking their cattle.
- Above Laya are the HOLY Lakes, @ 4450m, Kharkhil Tsho, Paro Tsho, Onemo Tsho.
- Prosperous Layaps own more than 300 yaks.
- The conical hats of women are associated with fertility, and the fact that the women are actual yak herders. The same clothes are worn by the powerful local deity, Aum Chomo Nosey Gayem. The belief is to ensure that the yaks always remain healthy.
- In a traditional gesture of respect for visitors, Layap women, at the end of an evening entertainment, will remove their conical hats and throw them in a heap.