Initiative: To revive the ancient trail of the 14th century saint, Choeji Drukpa Kunley, Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck and Her Royal Highness Princess Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck trekked for four hours from Talogang to Siluna in Punakha on April 23.

The works and human settlement minister, Dorji Choden, health minister Tandin Wangchuk and home minister Dawa Gyeltshen, along with several high level government delegates, officials and locals of Toep gewog, also made the trek.

It is believed along this trail Choeji Drukpa Kunley hunted and subdued demons. There are many sacred sites (nyes) along the 21-km trail related to Drukpa Kunley.

Despite its sacredness, the route has not been used for many decades and bushes had covered it in many places.

The route has been cleared and converted into a trekking trail with the help of locals and the dzongkhag. With the trek, the route will now be open as another trekking route for tourists.

The route which takes four-hours to walk, connects 21 villages in Toep. Each village possesses their own unique culture, artistic skills, trade practices, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

Initiated by the Youth Development Fund (YDF), the trek is expected to promote eco-tourism projects under the ‘My Gakidh Village’ project. Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck is the President of YDF.

The project is a joint venture of a non-government organisation from France, Aide-et-Action and YDF. Other activities include pottery, tea making, and Media lab.

Officials said the pottery and tea-making project-site is in Talhogang, which is around half an hour walk from the Wangdue-Thimphu highway below Lamperi.

While the pottery project will start soon, the tea-making project is already in operation. Tea products already available in the market.

The media labs are open and provide basic courses of computer literacy and media training to out-of-school youths and the monks, said officials.

YDF officials added that some of the objectives of the ‘My Gakidh Village’ project is to empower and enable youths to stay in the villages and not migrate to urban areas. Besides, the project also aims to enhance rural livelihoods through skill development projects to revive traditional crafts and culture within communties. It is also to help conserve and protect their environment resources in a sustainable manner.

Officials said Begana village in Toep was identified for the project because of the high rate of economically disadvantaged youths in the village.

Dawa Gyelmo | Punakha