Sandwiched between India and China, is a country with a population of about eight hundred thousand, Bhutan exudes charisma. The magnificent mountains surrounding the hamlet, pristine river flowing down the valley and into the dense forest and people are delightful. Air pure and architect imposing, Bhutan for many tourists is the last Shangri-la on earth.
About 60% of the Bhutanese are agriculture dependent. Some rural areas in Bhutan are still devoid of industries. The beauty of pastoral landscape and picturesque mountains seems unreal in an industrialized world.
Not so long ago, Bhutan opened itself to world and gained attention of the travelers. The country with a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy as a form of government recently had the third parliamentary election.
To the world, Bhutan is famous for the practice Mahayana Buddhism practice as much as it is for ecological diversity. Buddhism to Bhutanese is not just a religion but a way of life.
The most dynamic political changes in the country happened after Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the great leader of Kagyu came to Bhutan in 1616. He unified the country and founded duel system of government, the temporal and religious. The temporal leader was named Desi and the Religious leader was the Je Khenpo. With the last Desi, Jigme Namgyal, the form of government Zhabdrung started ended after the Wangchuck dynasty came into Power. In 1907, the country unanimously elected Ugyen Wangchuck as the fist King of Bhutan and established the hereditary Monarchy.
However, the fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 2006 started another form of government, the Democratic Constitutional Monarchy and gave back the power to people. Bhutan had the first parliamentary election in 2008, electing Druk Puensum Tsogpa as the first politically elected party to govern the country.
Bhutan encompasses 46,500 sq kilometer. The North West and northern part of the country borders with Tibet and rest the districts shares the border with Indian State of Assam, West Bangal and Arunachal Pradesh.
The entire country is mountainous and its altitude ranges from 100 m to the 7541 m Gangkar Puensem peak, the unclimbed mountain in the world. Bhutan can be divided into three major regions, High Himalaya of the North, the hills and valleys of the centre and plains of the south.
Since Bhutan encompasses mountains and plains, it is hard to generalize the weather. The climatic condition varies greatly from one region to another depending on altitude. The sub tropical plains of southern Bhutan have warmer winter and hot summer with mostly monsoon rains, while the northern Bhutan has moderate summer with monsoon but harsh winter with heavy snowfall.
The central Bhutan, where most of the tourist activities happen, the winter (November to mid-March) has dry daytime and cold evening. Snow covers the mountain top and reaches the valley once or twice in a year. The summer in these places are pleasant. The rainfall mainly happens during night and temperature gets cooler by the day. The temperature often rises in day, when Bhutan doesn’t receive much rain.
Bhutan’s unit of currency is Ngultrum (Nu), which equals to 100 Chetrum. Since Bhutanese currency is pegged Indian Rupee, Ngultrum in Bhutan has the same value as that of Indian Rupee. Travelers can exchange cash from Banks in Bhutan and in their hotel with the help of travel agents.
American dollars, pound sterling, French or Swiss francs, German marks, Chinese Yuan and Japanese yen are accepted currencies.
A diverse and unique culture:
Derived from Mahayana Buddhism, Bhutanese way of life is simple. Language and literature, arts and architecture, ceremonies and beliefs have an essence of Buddhism. Getting known to the world, not so long ago, Bhutanese arts, music and mask dances plays a vital role in keeping the tradition of festivals in villages.
The art of weaving intricate brocade is famous and today the modern houses of design choose their textiles to design modern cloths. Gho and Kira are the national Dress of Bhutan and are mostly woven by the women in the country.
Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. However, country with diverse culture has 18 dialects. Since English is taught in school, Most Bhutanese can easily communicate in English.
Chortens dotting the landscape, fluttering prayer flags hoisted everywhere, the monasteries with red-robed monks and prayers wheels turned by flowing river, the memory of Bhutan as a religious country remain forever engraved. In both rural and urban areas of the country, Bhutanese perform rituals and religious ceremony regularly creating an atmosphere to practice Buddhism.
Some of the sacred landmarks are the Taktsang monasteries and burning lakes in Bumthang.
As soon as you enter Bhutan, you will be welcomed with snow capped mountains towering the golden paddy fields and valley by the river. Many travelers describes Bhutan as the nature paradise with lush forest, pristine alpine meadows and crystalline river and peaceful valleys.
A home to biodiversity
While the world is crying on the loss of ecology, the small kingdom is home to most endangered animals, birds, and fishes in the world. About 72.5% of the country is covered with forest and the constitution of the country mandates 60% of forest cover all times to come. Country today has 5500 species of plants, over 200 mammals’ species and 770 species of bird.
The Himalayan Kingdom is home to precious Blacked Necked Crane in winter.
Celebration of Colour-Festivals in Bhutan
Festivals in Bhutan are usually called Tsechu and it celebrated in every district in different time. It is a time of the year where people honor the deeds of great saint, guru Padmasambhava. It is also a time when Bhutanese gather to witness the ancient mask dances. Bhutan on such days drape themselves into one of the best Gho and Kira, hence it is also a festivity of colors.
Hub of Adventures
If you love little excitement and need a bit of thrill to your life, Bhutan is best place to get it. The unclimbed mountains covered with snows, the rich forest, beautiful Georges, stunning meadows and swift rapid rivers provides a perfect setting for all kinds of adventures such as hiking, rafting, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing and fishing.
A relaxing escape from hectic life
For those travelers looking for a vacation to spend luxuriously, Bhutan offers ranges of luxurious resorts and Hotels. The resorts and hotels in Bhutan exude modern essence providing facilities such as Spa, Yoga and Meditation. The therapies are icing on top. Bhutan is quite and the peaceful environment is already getting away from Modernization.