70 years old Ap Dago from Paro has never missed the Thimphu Tsechu. This year was his fourth decade of attendance. But this time, his experience has been an altogether different one.
After witnessing Thimphu Tsechu inside the Tashichhodzong courtyard for so long, Ap Dago said that observing the festival outside the dzong in an open space was “unusual and exciting”.
Ap Dago’s view about Thimphu Tsechu being held in the new ground, Tendrel Thang, was shared by many, who had come to witness the 3 day event, which began on October 8.
Many, Kuensel spoke to, say that, with the increase in population, the new ground has created a comfortable ambience that helped them enjoy and cherish the event even more. Most said finding a place to sit or even stand had become a major problem in recent years.
“I remember people exchanging blows for seats,” said Ap Dago.
Taujay from Pemagatshel said that he hated the part where they had to wait in line for long hours before they got to enter the courtyard. “We were sunburnt and exhausted by the time we managed to get inside, only to find that we had no place to sit. Now we don’t have to worry at all,” he said.
Threndel Thang, which had the capacity to accommodate about 25,000 people, was occupied by over 10,000 people daily.
Meanwhile, the new ground has brought relief not just to the locals but to tour operators and tourists as well.
Tshering Samdrup, who had been working as a tourist guide for last nine years, said that they received complaints from their guests about the limited space to move around and take pictures.
“Tourists used to come for the festival after paying a huge amount and the crammed space and uncomfortable ambience disappointed them,” he said, adding that now the guests could move around freely and enjoy the performances.
Ira Cox from United States said the mask dances were very special and the setting beautiful. “We don’t have such long dances in US and people don’t have the patience,” he said.
According to the records maintained by the department of tourism, about 21,094 tourists visited last year. This year, the arrival was expected to be even higher.
The new ground was built at a total cost of Nu 100 million.