September 2, 2013

A Unique Event from Bhutan

I’ve said it often: I am very lucky! I was invited to join a good friend at an event on Sunday, one about which I’d heard great things, at a place known to be unique. It was the annual Bhutanese Archery Tournament, held at the beautiful Tashiding Estate just north of Baltimore. The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country located in the Himalayan Mountains, and is a very secluded and infrequently-visited place.

Each year on the Labor Day weekend, Douglas and Tsognie Hamilton invite the Bhutanese and Sikkimese communities to their home for an archery tournament. Members of these two communities come from across the country to participate. Lest you think that this is some simple bow-and-arrow affair, it’s not!The archers use carbon-fiber bows with a 60-lb pull, and they shoot at a very small target over 145 meters (or 475 feet) away. The arrows were so fast that we couldn’t even see them flying. We would see the archer shoot, follow the arrow for a split second, whip our heads to the other end of the field, and maybe see it hit the target. As each archer hit the mark, he received a sash indicating where he’d hit – blue, white, red or gold. All of the archers wore their national dress, which made me admire them tremendously, since it was in the low 90’s with an equal percentage of humidity. Sweltering would not put too fine a point on it!

The sidelines were dotted with fabulous tents like these,

and I was enchanted by their wonderful details.


The windows on the tent are decorated to keep the breezes blowing through and to keep eyes peering in! Quite effective!

After the tournament was completed, and some traditional singing and dancing, the winners, and the losers, were awarded traditional silk scarves and some other prizes.

As you can tell, everyone, from the spectators to the participants, was having a lot of fun!The archery tournament isn’t the only draw of the day – it’s also the incredible 35-acre gardens, which have been built from nearly nothing in 15 years. There is a gorgeous pond with a tea-house, a small island and dozens of huge goldfish and several turtles.

As we wandered, the arborist who designed the scheme explained how he and the property owner developed the gardens, and which plants he used for greatest effect… and deer resistance.

As you wind your way up to the main house,

you come to a beautiful pergola, rendered in an Asian spirit.

Then it’s up to the pool, just added earlier this summer.

There’s also a fully-stocked and fitted pool house, just ready for hours of fun.
Of course, every pool has its resident sea-monkeys!

Behind the pool is one of the property’s showcases – an aviary filled with peacocks!

The hen-house is modeled on an English solarium or garden room, and the small Asian-inspired building to the right of it is where the birds actually live. I think that the peacocks are a bit camera-shy.

Here are a few other views of the hen-house!

All around the property, you see pieces of Asian art, reflecting Mrs. Hamilton’s heritage as a Princess in the royal family of Sikkim. Sorry for the bad shot on this one, but it’s a court-yard from the inside looking out.

At the end of the evening, as the skies in this secluded valley grew dark, the Bhutanese rose as one, and started singing their national anthem. It was one of those moments that just gave me chills. It’s also one which I will never forget.

Then there was a spectacular fireworks display, up close and personal, and lots of fun, and beautifully reflected in the pool, around which everyone was sitting.

Thanks to the Hamiltons for hosting this fascinating event, and to my friend Stiles for taking me along for the adventure!

For more information on the gardens and to see some gorgeous pictures, please see “Private Edens” by Jack Staub.

21 comments:

  1. Wow, what an amazing event and the setting is just beautiful...thanks for taking us along with you!

    Kat

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    1. It was amazing! I am so pleased to have been invited.

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  2. Wow! This is just about the most fascinating post ever! Thank you for sharing your unique experience.

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  3. I read a study that said the the Bhutanese are one of the happiest people in the world.

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    1. They track the country's gross national happiness.

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  4. Bhutan is on my "to do" list. We were scheduled to visit, but other matters intervened. To Anon - yes they measure "Gross National Happiness" rather than as we do.

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    1. From what I am hearing, you should try and go!

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  5. How absolutely fabulous!!! I can't imagine a more beautiful day.

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  6. I would have loved to go to that event - the orangerie is stunning and that tent needs to be on AD!

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    1. It was all incredible. I loved the tent, too!

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  7. What a special occasion, and how amazing that you got to see it first hand. Are those goldfish or Koi Carp?
    Have a great day.
    Di
    xxxx

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    1. Yonks... probably Koi Carp. They were huge and when you came onto the platform, they came over looking for a bite to eat.

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  8. How fascinating! Yes it was so hot, but it all looks amazin enough to be worth it!

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  9. I had the pleasure of knowing a Bhutanese man during college and my impression of the nationality is one of gentle graciousness. How lucky you are to have had this amazing experience. An enchanting post - for you an enchanting day. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Thanks for explaining the archery! Apparently it is very competitive. I'm always so hot that we spend the time at the lake with the turtles and fish.

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  11. Another essay for the Fishbowl. outstanding.

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  12. Thank you for the tour of this beautiful place and fascinating event!

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  13. Stunning! how special you got to go & took such great photos. Thank you Stiles + the Hamilton's. xxpeggybrawelldesign.com

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