By making Bhutan his first foreign halt, Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew many eyes to the country. One too many it seems. The Tourism Ministry’s Annual Report 2013-14 presented to the Parliamentary Secretariat on July 18, 2014, put on its cover page a photo of the country’s most iconic landmark and religious site — Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger’s Nest Temple, in Paro.
With the embarrassing mistake soon discovered, the annual report was withdrawn and replaced with a new one, bearing the image of a smiling girl from Arunachal Pradesh. Over a thousand copies will now be pulped.
It is learnt that the Bhutan photo on India’s tourism report was noticed by senior Tourism Ministry officials after it had been presented to the Parliament Secretariat for distribution among MPs. It had the ‘Incredible India’ logo atop the image of the majestic Taktsang, which stands precariously on the edge of a cliff.
Sources in the Tourism Ministry, headed by Shripad Yesso Naik, say that while ITDC publishes the annual report, the error was made by an employee of the private firm to which the job was outsourced.
The Bhutan monastery was presumably mistaken for one in either Sikkim or Arunachal Pradesh.
“Google checks were done and still there was doubt as some images showed such a monastery in India while others showed it as Paro. However, just to ensure there was no room left for doubt, especially in view of the friendly relations we have with Bhutan, the annual report with that cover was withdrawn at once from Parliament’s Library, without any copy being distributed,” top sources in the Tourism Ministry said.
The urgency was understandable. Tiger’s Nest Temple is described by the Tourism Council of Bhutan as one of the country’s most holy sites, with no trip to the kingdom considered complete without visiting it.
The Bhutan Council informs that it was first built in 1692 in a cave where guru Rimpoche meditated in the 7th century AD. Legend states that Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue the evil demons residing within it.