(The village of Gaselo is an ideal location for day excursions and picnics. The region is primarily agrarian and the entire landscape is characterized by the most beautiful rice fields. We can also visit the Martshig Potog Lhakhang, a 15th century community temple which houses a sacred statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. Shakyamuni Buddha was the historical founder of Buddhism and the Buddha of this age. As an entity responsible for shaping the course of religious history of the world whose noble message of compassion and insight has great relevance for the happiness of mankind even today, he is widely revered and worshipped all across the kingdom.
This pleasant hike will take us through houses, villages and communities untainted by the ills of modernity. While many tourist destinations around the world have been crushed and irreversibly altered in detrimental ways by the sheer weight of modernization and development, these are places that will make you feel as if the clock stopped decades ago.
The young might have migrated in search of better opportunities, the ‘Dapa’ (traditional wooden plate) and ‘Phop’ (traditional wooden cup) may have been replaced by plastic (and porcelain) plates and mugs, Jericans might have taken the place of the ‘Palang’ (traditional bamboo pitcher for storing and serving alcohol) and people don’t have to yell at the top of their voices to relay messages (as they used to in the past) because of the advent of mobile phones, but the age old and time honored traditions still remain largely intact. The people in the villages still remain engaged in subsistence farming, always greet each other with big ‘Doma’ (beetle leaf smeared with a hint of lime and chewed with an areca nut resulting in a reddish hue) stained smiles, offer each other tea or ‘ara’ at the smallest chance and almost get offended if you don’t accept their invitation to visit their homes. How does one put into words life in these areas, a community that has remained relatively unchanged for decades, an amalgam of hundreds of people in the business of being human together in almost the same way they did decades ago? Words simply cannot encompass the literary enormity of it. Awe-inspiring as it is, one has to experience it to believe it.
We start from the village of Changkha, make our way through the villages of Phakilo, Singkhey and Pasakha, and eventually back to Changkha, all the while interacting with the local folk and observing their way of life up close. The hike affords valuable insight into the lives of men and women who still live off their land. And if fortune smiles down upon us, we just might pass by a house where the ‘Lochhoe’ (annual rites to appease the family deity, express gratitude for a good year gone by and offer prayers for yet another good year to come) ritual going on in any of the village houses that we pass by, you will definitely be invited, infact even forced to drop in at least for a cup of tea or ara. Such is Bhutanese hospitality…they almost smother you with it. )