Old trail in Bhutan to be restored for tourists

Source: kuenselonline.com
By Nima Wangdi

23 September, 2008 – A beaten trail, that passed through Ura to Gayzamchu in Bumthang, was once trodden by villagers from the east to transport goods offered as taxes to local chieftains resident in Bumthang, Trongsa, and Punakha. In the ‘50s, the people of Ura used the path as a mule track to barter butter, betel nuts, and clothes.

When the lateral highway emerged, about four decades ago, the path was used only by occasional mushroom collectors and cattle herders.

Today, the diverse ecosystem along the trail, including mushrooms like Matsutake growing under the pines, and different animal and bird species of the region, will change the purpose of the trail altogether.

The nine-kilometre stretch, which took approximately four and half hours on foot, will soon be serving as a trekking route for tourists.

Thrumshingla national park (TNP) in Ura will be carrying out development work along the trail before formally opening it to walkabouts.

“It’ll be handed over to the local committee, comprising of villagers in the Matsutake business, in the near future,” a park official told Kuensel.

The park’s assistant forest officer, Jigme Dorji, said that they were creating camps along the trail, similar to the ones used by herders in the past.

A TNP publication stated that the walking trail was dedicated to “our visionary and compassionate monarchs and would recognise the ingenuity and sacrifice of our Bhutanese forefathers”.

“The idea that our ancestors trod this path, carrying loads and singing songs, will add charm to the trek,” said a source, adding that the absence of any steep ascents would make the trek pleasant for tourists.

Tshulthrim Wangmo, an Ura resident, told Kuensel that she walked the trail all the way to Zhongar (Mongar), when she was in her twenties. “I used to sing traditional songs in the company of my friends and horses and it was fun,” she said.

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