In Photos | Far Over the Misty Mountains | Nat Geo Traveller India

In Photos | Far Over the Misty Mountains

A photographer examines the rich cultural heritage of the country through its mystical folklore.  
In Photos | Inside Bhutan’s Magical Mystery Landscape
The narrow winding highways of the kingdom are flanked by paddy fields and terraces that are set beside tiny settlements. Nearby, the roar of the gushing river breaks the stillness of the countryside. Photo by: Along Sangma

An aura of magic and mystery shrouds Bhutan with its picturesque villages, timeless temples perched on high hills and expansive oak, pine and rhododendron forests. The rich cultural heritage and mythical lore of the country makes it a land existing in a timeline of its own.

 

The bow and arrow hold a significant place in Bhutanese culture and tradition. From depictions of gods with bows and arrows, to hunters stalking the wild and soldiers in battle defending their kingdom, it is evident that archery is respected and revered. Mornings at the archery range are lively, where several enthusiasts throng to participate in the traditional sport. The game soon turns animated as the participants break into song and dance to taunt their opponents.

 

The Buddha Dordenma statue was built to fulfill a prophecy made by a renowned Buddhist yogi. Overlooking a nature park, the statue is set high in the hills to keep a watchful eye over the land and bestow peace and happiness to all.

 

The dense expansive forests of the kingdom are home to an elusive animal—the Takin—which, according to folklore, was created in a show of spectacle when a divine mystic had fused the head of a goat into the body of a cow while reciting a mantra. The Takin is protected and considered the national animal of Bhutan.

 

The landscape is speckled with houses and hilltop monasteries with captivating architecture and fluttering prayer flags. The Rinpung Dzong fortress glistens in the last minutes of daylight, as the sun begins its steady retreat.

 

As dusk approaches, members of the royal clergy arrive to offer prayers at the flag down ceremony. The yellow and orange flag, carrying the emblem of the thunder dragon, and fluttering proudly outside the Tashichho Dzong, is then slowly lowered and taken away to mark the end of the working day.

 

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  • Along Sangma is from Shillong, Meghalaya. He enjoys photographing people, going on treks and travelling to quaint little towns and rural places. Other days, he's at home talking to his dogs.

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