Chorten Kora and Namgang Kora

Chorten Kora and Namgang Kora

There is an annual Dakpa Kora (circumambulation of the Chorten by the Dakpas) festival held on the 15th of the first lunar month, and a Drukpa Kora (circumambulation of the Chorten by the Bhutanese) festival held at the end of the first lunar month, which celebrates the stupa. These festivals are attended by Dakpa people of the neighboring Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh in India, and Bhutanese from Tashiyangtse, Tashigang, and Kurtoe.

A popular belief is that when the stupa was constructed, a pious Dakini princess from neighboring Arunachal Pradesh in India entombed herself within, as the Yeshe Semba, to meditate on behalf of all beings. A popular Bhutanese (Dzongkha language) film “Chorten Kora” is based on this legend.

Devotees from Tawang in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh joi their Bhutanese counterparts in the Namgang Kora, one of eastern Bhutan’s oldest religious festivals, which is held annually at the Chorten Kora, Trashiyangtse.

 The biggest religious event in the Dzongkhag, the Namgang Kora (circumambulating the Chorten on the last day of the auspicious first month) is preceded by the Tse-Chenga Kora, a similar celebration on the 15th day of the first month of the Bhutanese calendar.

Lam Dorji of Rigsum Goenpa who organizes the festival, said that the tradition of circumambulation began after the present chorten was built by Lam Ngawang Lotey, the nephew of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The physical structure of the chorten was copied from the Bodi Chorten in Nepal.

Once a deeply spiritual tradition, the event today has been commercialized and diluted, according to devotees. With hundreds of shops set up in huts and tents, Chorten Kora appears more like a bustling fair than a spiritual venue.

This year one of the main attractions at the festival has been the five video parlors run by diesel generators that screen three to four of films a day. Food and game stalls, cloth show rooms, diverse wares both made locally and imported line the way to the Chorten.

Language in Bhutan

Dzongkha – The National Language of Bhutan

Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. The word Dzongkha means the language (Kha) spoken in the Dzong. Dzongs are the fortresses established throughout the kingdom by Zabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century.

Although there are over 18 languages in Bhutan that belong to the Tibeto-Burman group and Lhotsamkha (Nepali)  – Indo-Aryan group, the lingua franca of Bhutan is Dzongkha which is the native language of Bhutan.


Origin

Written Dzongkha follows a script similar to Tibetan and consists of 30 consonants and four vowels. The modern Dzongkha writing uses the alphabet system first introduced by Thonmi Sambhota. He was the son of Anu of the Thonmi clan from central Tibet; Sambhota was a minister of the religious Tibetan King Songtsen Gambo.

After mastering linguistics in India, Sambhota returned to Tibet and introduced the Tibetan alphabet system which comprises 30 consonants and four vowels. The sound system and the structure of the alphabets were based on Devangiri, a script used for many modern and older languages of India, including Sanskrit, Hindi and Nepali. Although the writing system of modern Dzongkha namely Jogyig was brought to Bhutan by Dematsema on the invitation of Sindhu Raja, the origin of the Bhutanese alphabet has to be traced back to Sambhota.


Script

Dzongkha consists of 30 consonants termed as Selje Sumchu. These are used in combination with prefixes, suffixes and post suffixes. The words are formed with characters which are sub-joint and surmounted on the basic letter. Thus a simple word in Dzongkha may look complex with sub-joints, surmounts, prefixes and suffixes.


Spoken Dzongkha

Written Dzongkha may be similar to Tibetan but spoken Dzongkha is very different. Spoken Dzongkha consists of various articulations and is relatively easy to learn, speak and follow. Dzongkha has limited vocabulary and many modern words are still being introduced and some are still made up by a combination of terms. The separate honorific vocabulary exists for use in respect with the elders, for example the Dzongkha verb ‘to speak’ when used with people with same status is Lap where as when used in reference with elders it would change to Zhu.


Conversational Dzongkha

Like many other languages of the region, Bhutan too has many dialects depending on the region in which they are spoken. The difference is very minimal and can be understood. As the language is still developing, the vocabulary is limited and influenced by a combination of terms. There is an increasing trend of usage of English with Dzongkha in day to day conversation as the mixing of languages is easy to speak and understand.


Conclusion

Dzongkha is a developing language and the Dzongkha Development Commission is the body which is implementing the language policy and making it more user friendly through many projects like dictionaries and glossary of terms and computer fonts.

Examples of conversational Dzongkha:

Hello: Kuzuzangpo la

Welcome: Joen pa leg so

How are you? Ga day bay zhu yoe ga?

I am fine: Nga leg shom bay rang yoey

Good wishes: Tashi Delek!

Thank you: Kadrinche la

 

bluepine

Biodiversity in Bhutan

bluepine

  1. A brief background:

Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayas with total land area of 38,394 square kilometers.

Though the country is small, Bhutan has world’s most rugged topography that varies from 100 meters in the south to over 7,500 meters above sea levels in the north thereby bestowing Bhutan with outstanding landscapes of natural environment and biodiversity both rich and diverse. Today global community recognizes Bhutan as one of the 10th Global Biodiversity Hotspot.

A few facts about biodiversity of Bhutan as per information provided in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan 2014 are specified below:

  1. Biodiversity
    • Ecosystem diversity:
      • Forest Ecosystem: The country is divided into three eco-floristic zones with different forests types:
        • Alpine zone (4,000+masl): Alpine meadows and scrubs forests
        • Temperate zone 2,000-4000masl): Fir Forests (3,000+masl), Mixed Conifer Forests (2,500 – 3.500masl), Blue pine forests (1,500-3,200masl), broadleaf mixed with conifer forests (2,000-2,500masl).
        • Sub-tropical zone ( 150-2,000 masl): Broad leaf forests (1,000-2,000masl), Chir pine forests (700-2,000masl), Tropical lowland forests (<700masl).
        • Aquatic Ecosystem: The aquatic ecosystems of Bhutan consist mainly of rivers, lakes, marshlands and hot springs.
        • Agricultural Ecosystem: Bhutan has six agro-ecological zones which includes Alpine (3600-4600 masl), Cool Temperate (2600-3600 masl), Warm Temperate (1800-2600 masl), Dry sub-tropical (1200-1800 masl), Humid sub-tropical (600-1200 masl) and Wet sub-tropical (150-600)
      • Species diversity:

Some figures on species diversity as recorded in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan are:

  • Wild flora:
  • biodiversityVascular plants: over 5600 species of which about 105 species are endemic to Bhutan.
  • Pteridophytes: Over 410 species.
  • Mushroom: Over 90 species
    • Wild Fauna
  • Mammals: over 200 species of which 27 species are globally threatened: eg Golden Langur, Snow Leopart, Takin, Bengal Tiger, Black naked crane, red panda etc.
  • avefaunaAvefauna: Over 678 species of which 14 species are globally threatened.
  • Invertebrates (Butterlfly: About 140 out of estimated 800-900 species identified
  • Fish: over 50 species
    • Domesticated flora/Agricultural crops:

biodiversity-in-bhutanThere are wide levels of domesticated floral diversity encompassing ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. There are over 100 species that are cultivated in Bhutan which can be further divided into numerous varieties within species that are rich, diverse and unique. Important crops are rice, maize, wheat, buckwheat, barley, millets, legumes, oilseeds, all kinds of vegetables and fruits.

 

 

  • Domesticated Fauna/Livestock diversity.
  • Yak: 2 major categories
  • Cattle: Nublang/Siri
  • Horse: Yutha, Byotha, Jatha
  • Pig: Sapha, Domphaetc
  • Poultry: different strains
  • Sheep: 3 (Saktenpa, Jakar and Sibsoo type)
  1. Bhutan for Biodiversity:

Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that has entered into 20th century with biodiversity intact. This is due to various enabling factors and strong legal instruments that are in place to protect biodiversity in the country. These includes:

  • A far sighted visionary leadership of our kings. “Throughout the centuries, the Bhutanese have treasured their natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. This traditional reverence for nature has delivered us into the twentieth century with our environment still richly intact. We wish to continue living in harmony with nature and to pass on this rich heritage to our future generations.”- His Majesty the King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
  • A unique GNH philosophy of socio-economic development where in environment preservation is one of the four pillars of GNH. This ensures that development is never achieved at the cost of the environment.
  • Constitution of Bhutan as Bhutan is only the country in the world where its constitution mandates 60% of its forest for all times to come.
  • Strong conservation ethics and religious practices of the Bhutanese people living in harmony with nature.
  • Many policy documents and action plans are in place which includes ‘Vision 2020’ for sustainable development, ‘robust Biodiversity Action Plans’ which is a guiding documents on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use across all sectors.
  1. Visit Bhutan to witness unique biodiversity

Bhutan is unique country with rich and diverse flora and fauna. Bhutan is a unique country with very strong commitment for conservation of biodiversity. Bhutan is a unique country with astonishing natural beauty with 72% forest cover. Bhutan is a unique country with carbon neutral policy. Therefore, do not delay in witnessing this world heritage of wild flora, wild fauna, domesticated flora and domesticated fauna in Bhutan with Yak Holidays Int’l.

 

Visit Bhutan William & Kate style

Ms. Isabella  Ratchford Caravaggio, 21 yr. old solo traveler from Italy travelled to Bhutan (5th – 8th August). She hiked to the famous Taktsang Monastery the Kate & William style.

Visit_Bhutan_willim_&_kate_Style

 

Where is Bhutan? How you can visit like William and Kate and why Bhutan cares so much about happiness

BY ANN GRIPPER , RYAN BROWN

Prince William and Kate Middleton are spending two days in Bhutan as part of their royal tour this month. Here are the essentials about the tiny kingdom.

Kensington Palace has announced that Prince William and Kate will visit Bhutan, a small kingdom in the Himalayas.

As part of their Royal Tour to see the sights of India and the secretive kingdom of Bhutan this Spring, they will meet the country’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife, Queen Jetsun Pema.

Here’s the low-down on Bhutan so that you can understand where William and Kate are visiting – or plan a trip there for yourself.

Where is Bhutan?

Bhutan – officially called the Kingdom of Bhutan – is situated in South Asia at the eastern end of the Himalayas. Bordering China to the north and India to the South, its capital city is Thimphu, with an estimated population of around 770 thousand people.

Its economy is largely based on agriculture, tourism and the sale of hydroelectric power to India. The commissioning of the Tala Hydroelectric Power Station helped boost the country’s economy by a significant amount from 2007.

Map of India and Bhutan

Map of India and Bhutan

Why is happiness so important?

Based on a global survey, Business Week rated Bhutan as the happiest country in the whole of Asia, as well as the eighth-happiest in the world.

This could be because of the country’s heavy focus on happiness – with the country even measuring prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels instead of GDP.

The phrase Gross National Happiness (GNH) was coined in 1972 by the country’s fourth Dragon King, Jigme Signye Wangchuck, and is meant to represent a commitment to building an economy that would serve its culture based on Buddhist spiritual levels instead of material development.

In fact, the people of Bhutan take this so seriously that they have hand-painted signs throughout the country offering life-affirming mantras, such as ‘Life is a journey! Complete it!’ and ‘Let nature be your guide’.

The flag and what it represents

bhutan_flag

The national flag of Bhutan The dragon flag of Bhutan is based upon the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Featuring Druk, the Thunder Dragon of Bhutanese mythology, the Bhutanese affectionately call the country ‘Druk’ after the name of the mythological dragon. It’s been a prominent part of Bhutanese culture ever since the founder of the Drukpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism set off to choose a site for construction of a monastery in 1189 and heard three pearls of thunder, a sound supposedly produced by the thunder dragon.

What is the weather like?

Bhutan tends to have a hot, humid climate that rarely changes throughout the year. Temperatures can vary between 15-30 degrees Celsius, with typically warm summers and cool, dry winters.
William and Kate can expect to visit Bhutan during its usual warm climate, so there shouldn’t be much concern over any wind or rain to spoil their experience of the wonderful country.

The national anthem

Bhutan’s national anthem is titled ‘Druk Tsendhen’m which roughly translates as The Thunder Dragon Kingdom. Composed in 1953, lyrics include the beauty of the country’s cypress trees, praises to the nation’s King and wishes for ‘happiness to shine over all people’.

The King and Queen of Bhutan

Bhutan’s ruling monarch is King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who ascended to the throne in 2006. His wife, Jestun Pema, became Queen of the country when the couple married in 2011. The pair are beloved by the country and were once referred to as the William and Kate of the Himalayas.

Holidays in Bhutan

Tourism thrives in Bhutan, thanks to its warm climate and stunning scenery. But if you’re looking to holiday in Bhutan, it’s best to travel in Spring and Autumn as June, July and August can see more extreme weather like monsoons.

Be sure to apply for a visa in advance of your arrival via an authorised tour operator. Visas normally cost around £29 per person or US$ 40 and are essential for booking flights into the country.

King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and wife Queen Jetsun Pema

King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and wife Queen Jetsun Pema

What is there to see?

Mountains dominate the region and the sprawling Himalayas are a must. But Bhutan also boasts wonderful forests, hidden treasures like the Buddhist temples and waterways.

What Our Client Say

FROM:

Ms. Pov Katheelylla

USA

Kuzu Zangpo la everyone,

Thanks Raoul for a wonderful email. Thanks everyone for sharing and help making my first long guided trip well remember.  This was my longest trek and sleeping in tent for more than 7 nights!  Leki definitely is the best cook!!

I made home safely and have been busy working.

I love Bhutan and Nepal and would love to go back again.

Take care

Pov

FROM:

Mr. Raoul Wayne Carlson

California, USA

Dear Sithar.

All is well and we are safely home.

Many thanks for good treks. Bhutan trek, with Yak Holidays was excellent. Sither Tamang is a good manager-owner, very helpful, insightful and has good experience, Bhutan and with Jomohari trek and other treks, as well.

Our guide, Nima Wangchuk Sherpa, was expert. (Almost equal to Ram Chandra Sunuwar) Nima guided us with skill that comes only from many years experiences.  If you send others to Bhutan with Yak Holidays…. Nima is the recommended guide.

By the way, Nima has 5 Snowman Treks with 3 successful completed Snowman treks with clients.  (trekkers, my age have completed Snowman trek with Nima.} We have good memories of Nima as our trekking guide, as well as Cultural tours guide.

For Cultural Tours:  Nima knows all things, Cultural. He took us to the Thimphu Tshechu before our trek, (thanks Sithar) Jomolhari festival on trek. We visited Dzong after Dzong before and after including the National Memorial Chorten, Giant Buddha above Thimphu, Paper factory, Traditional Medicine Institute, Takin Zoo, Arts and Crafts, and many other visits as well. Nima is wonderful cultural guide. He knows so much and can answer all questions.

Our itinerary was much the same as planned…. except for 1st day ….we went to Thimphu Festival (Tshechu). Then, back to Tiger’s Nest for a morning hike then, start of Jhomolhari trek at 3/4 way down road from the old Dzong.

All went well at Tiger’s Nest and on first part of trek for most of us…… on our way up through forest and jungle, it was very nice easy trek to Thangthangka Camp for me, as it was for most of us.

“One,” of our trekkers had trouble climbing on the trail and decided to leave the trek after the 1st “strenuous” day.  The rest of us continued on up to Jhomolhari Base Camp, a very easy walk, where we enjoyed, and hot shower. (Wonderful HOT SHOWER).  Jomolhari Base Camp is a very beautiful place with the best view of Jomolhari Mt… @13k ft. I took much videos and Photos of this very wonderful Place.

Next day, I climbed to a high-yak pasture at 14.5k+ with view of Jichu Drake Peak, and more… Then went back down to the Jhomolhari Mountain Festival, a very interesting event ….It was 2 days and we saw much of it while we were in the Jhomolhari.

Next few days, on trek up…. each successive day, we climbed a little higher to a pass and, descended to a camp in valley below at lower elevation. Each day, about 10:30 we were given juice and some snack. At approx noon to 12:30, hot lunch was served along the trail with hot tea, plates, knives, forks, spoons, napkins, everything….very special meal (several helpings) Each evening, our cook, Leki, prepared a delicious dinner. Each dinner was different from any prior nights’ dinner. We know Leki went to cooking-school. That is the reason he is such a great cook. Leki is highly recommended cook along with Nima (our guide). They are a good professional team together.

The last night on our trek, a campfire was built by porters and guides, very special for us to enjoy, big-Warm-campfire. Next morning, coals were still warm….. We enjoyed, good campfire, good porters, good tents, good journey, beautiful scenery, good friendships, good hiking together, beautiful Bhutanese People, good togetherness + friendship, each person friends, good food, great guide, great cook…. Pov Seng and her Informative-emails, altogether, a Wonderful trek-experience in Bhutan.

Just to let you know a pleasant experience, Bhutan. Thanks

Best wishes, Thank You All… very much

Raoul Carlson

Bhutan Honeymoon Tour

5 Of The World’s Safest Holiday Destinations

Bhutan

A great alternative to India and Thailand, Bhutan is a beautiful kingdom located in the magnificent Himalayan mountains. You can find amazing landscapes here. Its native culture heavily influenced by Buddhism makes it a great destination for those people looking for some spirituality.

Free from many of the internal squabbles that can make life in some of its neighbouring countries a little bit hectic, Bhutan is perfect for those who want to go off the beaten track and really expand their cultural horizons. As well as being one of the world’s safest holiday destinations, Bhutan is also home to the world’s happiest people. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck declared that Bhutan should define itself on GNH (Gross National Happiness) rather than the traditional GDP (Gross Domestic Product.) This might sound a little idealistic, but it seems to have worked. Bhutan is often ranked as the happiest place on the world and its crime rates are very low.

One small drawback about Bhutan is that you can only stay for 15 days. And visitors have to pay a daily fee to stay. This is $250 in the high-season and $200 in low season. This may seem expensive, but it does include your food, accommodation, tour guide, and transportation. What’s great about this is that the money tourists pay to visit, is used to cover the free healthcare and education that all citizens receive.

courtesy: LIFESTYLE TRAVEL BY SIMON FRIEL