Bhutan’s ancient scriptures may become a thing of the past if the country does not used modern means to preserve its cultural heritage.
Bhutan’s ancient scriptures may become a thing of the past if the country does not use modern means to preserve its cultural heritage.
Understanding cultural diversity and the sustenance of different cultures has become a challenging task as the world embraces modernization and globalization. One country with a strong sense of identity is the Kingdom of Bhutan. A small country, Bhutan has survived for centuries without being noticed by the world. As a result, it has a rich cultural heritage going back to centuries that has remained hidden from the world’s eye. But it might be a thing of the past soon if Bhutan does not try to preserve its cultural heritage, especially the ancient scriptures. Realizing the dangers that face Bhutanese scriptures, Dr. Karma Phuntsho, a scholar and social worker, has been digitalizing and archiving Bhutanese texts and manuscripts since 2003.
Recreating the past is fundamental for researchers who want to explore the ancient world. This can’t be done in the absence of archives detailing the manner in which people lived in the past. Conservation of official documents and historical records has taken place for centuries. Archives of scores of clay tables dating back to the third and second millennia BC have been unearthed by archeologists in different parts of the world.
Lush green forests, colorful exotic birds, awe-inspiring leopards and dangerous reptiles – a country has to be exceptionally lucky to have so many varieties of wildlife in as many numbers. Sri Lanka is one such country.
In addition to the wildlife, the country is also blessed with countless varieties of flflowers, lovely beaches, butterflies, time-worn castles, monuments aand temples. To top it all, the Sri Lankans are a people who understand the importance of these natural gifts.
Shaped like a giant pear, the island country has been likened to a pearl in the Indian Ocean. Connected with the subcontinent by the Adam’s Bridge, a loose group of tiny, almost invisible mountains submerged in the sea, the Sri Lankans are not particularly fond of belonging to the subcontinent. The reason for their seclusion perhaps lies in their separate history as well as geographical isolation.
However, they have a deep association with their history. Even the country’s name is blended with mythology – it has changed from Serendeep to Ceylon to Sri Lanka.
In old times, serendipity was regarded as something rather insurmountable – a blend of difficult things, a place far, far away, a hostile and ungainly land. Or all three. Today, it is hard to associate Sri Lanka with such notions.
What is special about today’s Sri Lanka is its vast forests and wildlife. The people of Sri Lanka know the importance of conservation of natural and other resources. From an early age, they are taught to respect and revere Mother Nature. There are programs designed for school children that teach them the basics of preserving wildlife.
The policy to promote eco-tourism was adopted in the 1970s. A decade of 'acclimatization' and training of a large number of professionals followed.
This has led to a sufficient number of workers, whose dedication to their work is evident from their behavior. Any visitor to Sri Lanka can vouch for the radical change that has come about after the change in the government's attitude towards tourism. For instance, one will never see a tour guide or any other person related with the ecotourism industry as much as throw a
matchstick, a piece of paper, a wrapper or leftovers of a fruit anywhere except in the garbage bin.
All places of tourist interest wear a new look after the stress on eco-tourism by the people and the authorities. Whether it is the main city Colombo, the nearby city of Livinia, the small place called the Adam's Peak, Annuradhpora in the north or Galle in the south by the Indian Ocean – they all wear a festive look – clean and bedecked – the stamp of eco-tourism writ large on their profiles.
Beginning from the Adam's Peak, green mountains abound in the country, covering a large area that has many streams, rivulets and small lakes. These places are as clean as one can imagine and may fool one into thinking that not many people have visited them. The fact is, each place is visited by hordes of tourists.
There are about 25 national parks in the country and it would take an endless stock of brochures to describe their beauty. The national parks offer tranquility and peace. Most of them have great varieties of flora and fauna.
The best time to visit the parks is early in the morning, because if one is lucky, one may spot a majestic leopard sprawled on the dewy green grass. Elephants can also be seen bathing in the many rivers that pass through the country like brown veins, full of aquatic life.
There are bird sanctuaries where one can feast on watching hundreds of species of exotic birds. These places have the tendency to turn one into a bird lover. In the national parks, herds of deer can be seen grazing in the lush green forests. The only sounds that are heard there are those of birds, rhesus monkeys, small buffaloes, elephants or an occasional grunt of a leopard.
For many tourists, the biggest attraction is watching whales and dolphins. The extreme south of Sri Lanka is regarded as the perfect place for this because blue whales, fin whales, sei whale, sperm whales, orcas, dolphins, flying fish, turtles, manta rays, striped dolphins and many other colorful, big and small fishes abound here.
Whether deep inside the country or along the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, each time a tourist goes to Sri Lanka, he wants more of it.