Outside Punakha we spent some time wandering through a massive gathering of 7000 – 8000 Bhutanese locals, yak herder nomads, people from all over the Kingdom gathered for the annual convocation of praying for peace. Every December they assemble under the direction of the Chief Abbot to pray and chant. The event is known as the World Peace Ceremony or the World Peace Mega Devotion. Amankora Resorts presents multiple cultural options every day for their guests to understand local life. The gentle people of Bhutan never seemed to mind our observing their daily habits.
The roads leading to the tented area was lined with pilgrims, nomads with their free roaming ponies and mules. Barbed wire fences served as temporary clotheslines for the visiting nomads who erect blue plastic tents in local fields. Men in their colorful traditional gho outfits, a knee length robe, gathered by a wide belt, long black socks and many in traditional black leather shoes. The women wearing ankle length skirts called kira topped with brightly colored silk jackets, the nomad women are more casually dressed, often with hand knitted sweaters from yak fur. Kids run free and weren’t shy about wanting to see their photos on my camera.
The Chief Abbot, the top religious officer in Bhutan, performed blessings and prayers for world peace over a loudspeaker, leading the assembly in chant and prayer. The devotees are sheltered under colorful painted tents, fed daily meals as they devote the18 days to praying for the world.
After returning home, I was grateful that a small Kingdom cares enough about others to pray for us.
Traditional greetings are de rigueur at all Amankora arrivals – whether it be lodge, spa appointment, potato shed dinner or a wooden soaking tub in a field!
An 85 year old Bhutanese man heats the hot stones for the soaking tub
Amankora Gangtey Hot Stone Bath is situated in a candlelit stone hut on a hill, a ten minute walk from the lodge on a dusty path. Led by a pack of exuberant dogs, a short trek through a winter potato and turnip patch; one is first aware of the hut by smoke billowing up from an open fire, it turns out, a fire tended by an 85 year old man who is roasting large stones for heating the tub. An age old practice in Bhutan, hot stone bath.
A unique opportunity to soak in a handmade wooden tub out in the open and enjoy a traditional Bhutanese healing experience. The sliding bamboo doors afford full privacy, yet are open to the dramatic views of the Phobjikha Valley and a soothing breeze. In the distance, you may hear the honking of the rare Black-Necked Cranes who roost in Gangtey in the fall and winter months.
Benefits from the bath are derived from the minerals in the heated stones and the healing effects of the local Khempa herb floating in the tub. Sit back and unwind in the bath for as long as you like and watch the sunset slip behind the Himalayas.
Sip a cup of hot apple cider or wine, snack on popcorn and wonder what Amankora Gangtey will offer for your pleasure tomorrow!
Healing minerals are imparted by the hot stones Candlelit Hot Stone Tub at Amankora Gangtey Views to soak by Amankora Gangtey!