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Chamkhar Valley
Tourist season in Bumthang
Jakar Dzong
Tourist lodges and guest-houses are full and handicraft and souvenir shops are doing brisk business.

The highlight of the visit to Bumthang at this time of the year is to watch the Jambey Lhakhang Tshechu, one of the most popular festivals of Bumthang's numerous festivals.

The main event of the festival is the Terchham, or the naked dance, performed by the Jambey Lhakhang villagers at night. "It's quite serendipitous that we made it to witness the festival when we had initially planned on trekking," said Margot Jones a tourist from New York. "This is our first time in Bhutan and probably the first festival too."

Mary Nada another tourist interested in birds said that she was taken aback when the locals informed her about the Tshechu. "I always wanted to trek in the Himalayas," said Mary Nada. "Now that I'm actually here I don't want to miss the most talked about Jambey Lhakhang Tshechu."

The Tshechu will be performed end of October. The Terchham is performed on the last two days of the Tshechu.

"Till the Tshechu is over all the guest houses will be full," said the owner Kaila who runs a popular lodge in Bumthang both among the tourists and travellers owing to its proximity to the town. "We make about Nu. 150,000 at this time of the year in three days," he said.

Bumthang's high inflow of tourists
Jambey lhakhang
All the 17 guest houses in the valley with more than 200 rooms are all full with tourists.

Other tourist resorts with fewer rooms earn about Nu. 40,000. "We have just 10 rooms and we make close to some Nu.50, 000 or so," said the Yangphel guesthouse manager, Yeshey. "Most of our tourists come to watch the Jambey lhakhang Tshechu."

After the tourists are gone the guesthouses have to rent their lodges to the travellers plying the east-west highway.

"We have occasional foreign visitors and at the most we earn far less than what we make now," said Kaila. Many tourists who couldn't find accommodation in the lodges pitched tents outside the guesthouses and in open spaces near the town. About three farmhouses in Tamshing had to be rented out to the local travel agencies to accommodate their guests with meals.

According to one of the handicraft shops in Choskhor valleythe October season is the best time for business. Sonam handicrafts, popular for bura and hand woven kiras shad sales worth over Nu. 6,000 on the first day. "Most of our customers are women tourists and they buy the kira to wear during the Tshechu," he said. "Back home they normally use the kiras as show pieces." The tourists usually settle for colourful bright hand-woven and bura kiras. Apart from that they buy the handicraft items and antiques from these shops.

By the first week of November, the tourists will begin moving out, the Choskhor valley will become quiet again for another winter.


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