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Northern Bhutan


The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks

Laya, the remote settlements of nomads

The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows reaching up to glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 m (23,000 ft) above sea level; the highest point in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 metres (24,840 ft), which has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.

The lowest point, at 98 m (322 ft), is in the valley of Drangme Chhu, where the river crosses the border with India.Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds.

It is one of the best place to trek during early spring and late autumn, for it has array of sceneries that one would have ever imagined.On a clear day you will be able to see some of the highest snow clad mountains,pristine nature and through it flowing clear water.Not to mention some of the wild animals like snow leopard,fox,blue sheep and yaks.

 

Nomads of the eastern Himalyas.

The Brokpa people, Living in remote, eastern Bhutan is a semi-nomadic tribe that’s on the brink of change. Who have lived on the borders of Arunachal Pradesh, for centuries are traditional yak and sheep herders. They have originated from the Tshoona region of Tibet and depend, mostly on the animals for their livelihood.

The Brokpa language, also called the Merakpa language spoken by about 5000 people mainly in Merak and Sakteng Gewogs in the Sakteng Valley of Trashigang District in Eastern Bhutan. Brokpa is spoken by descendants of pastoral yakherder communities. The word brokpa has two parts. ‘Brok’ meaning mountain and ‘pa’ means native people of the mountain, so the word ‘Brokpa’ refers to the language spoken by the people living on the mountains.

Beside wearing their beautiful costumes,made out of yak felt and jewelleries, they are well known in producing woolen fabric and traditional blue cheese called “Yetpa”, meaning “literally rotten” delicacy.

 

The Layap are indigenous people inhabiting the high mountains of northwest Bhutan in the village of Laya, in the Gasa District, at an altitude of 3,850 metres (12,630 ft), just below the Tsendagang peak. Their population in 2008 stood at 1,500. Ethnically related to the Tibetans, they speak Layakha, a Tibeto-Burman language. Layaps refer to their homeland as Bae-yul – “the hidden land.”

The Layap are known for their tradition of polyandry, practiced to keep families and property together, although the custom now in decline.The Layap also have a tradition of child marriage, with brides as young as 10 years old.

Traditionally, the Layap lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle, who reared yaks and dzos, although in recent times small ponies may also be found in the area. Owing to the cold weather at this altitude, few crops can be planted, except for some grasses. Layaps also traditionally pick cordyceps, valuable traditionally medicinal and magical fungi native to the region.