Bhutan, with its gorgeous landscape and old monasteries, has emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in recent years. However, like all countries, there are certain local Bhutanese customs that should be respected by tourists and locals alike.
Something that an Indian tourist did not keep in mind when he was detained for ‘desecrating’ a Buddhist religious monument.
Abhijit Ratan Hajare, who originally hails from Maharashtra, visited Bhutan as part of a 15-member bike convoy. However, while touring Bhutan, the rest of the group stopped at the Dochula Pass and Hajare went off to explore on his own.
It was at this time that he climbed on the top of a chorten, which is a Buddhist religious monument. He used a ladder to climb on top and then posed for photos. He was apparently assisted by a local.
The video of Indian Tourist Abhijit Ratan Hajare from Maharashtra climbing the chorten.— The Bhutanese (@thebhutanese) October 18, 2019
Source: WeChat. pic.twitter.com/MwxzcvjLVl
His photos sparked anger among the people, who demanded strict action against him.
Extremely disrespectful. Hopefully he is punished under the local laws.— Chirag Wakaskar (@chiragwakaskar) October 18, 2019
Disgusting act.— कंवल शर्मा (@raashis) October 18, 2019
Cant do that at all.
My apologies as an Indian.
I demand strict punishment for him as per ur laws.
Punish them.— Ashutosh (@ashu_chdry) October 18, 2019
Chortens contain relics of deceased monks, sacred books & other ritualistic objects. To step on them, deface, spit, urinate or any other nuisance is a crime. Have seen this in Ladakh, locals don’t even object. Here too a local is seen assisting. Both should be arrested.— Dreamer (@AGalleryofDream) October 18, 2019
Consequently, he was detained by the police and released only when he apologized to the police in writing.
Update: According to the RBP the Indian tourist Abhijit Ratan Hajare has been let go after he apologized for his behavior in writing citing ignorance.— The Bhutanese (@thebhutanese) October 18, 2019
A factor was that for any legal charge to be applied under the penal code he would have to have destroyed or damaged the stupa. pic.twitter.com/fOYnTHbvhu
As tourists, it is our basic responsibility to respect the culture and tradition of the place we’re visiting, and not let our idea of fun turn into a disrespectful activity.