About Bhutan

Welcome to The Land of the Thunder Dragon

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a magical country nestled in the eastern Himalayas and where the King rules by a 72 page document entitled Gross National Happiness. Any experience in this Buddhist country, is a rare and unique cultural adventure.

Bhutan is flanked by India to the south, west and east, Tibet and China to the north, and has a famous neighbor, Nepal. But Bhutan’s rugged landscape and unique cultural and spiritual grandeur have caused it to be touted as an oasis of innocence in a frenzied and competitive world—a kingdom where compassion and wisdom are the benchmarks against which all things are measured. And, unlike Nepal, Bhutan’s rigid tourist restrictions close these treasures to many foreigners which only make it more tantalizing as a destination for adventure and spiritual seekers.

The country of Bhutan is one of the few places on earth that has never been colonized—boasting of a heritage going back to prehistoric times. With belief systems steeped in magic and mysticism, they have protected their natural environment as a haven that World Wildlife Fund calls, the ‘hot spot of biodiversity’. As a deeply Buddhist country, the Western world has labeled Bhutan as The Last Shangrila.

In addition to being one of the most recent nations to accept TV and Internet (1999), and install a democratic government, Bhutan is home to the highest unclimbed mountain on the planet, Gangkhar Puensum (24,840 ft.). It is a testament to Bhutan’s leadership that it rejected revenues from foreign climbers and instead prioritized the spiritual wishes of villagers that the mountain remain untouched.

Bhutan has fewer cars than cattle, and no traffic lights or McDonalds. There are more monks than military personnel and social progress is measured NOT not in terms of economic development or GDP, but in terms of happiness, as defined in their ruling document entitled Gross National Happiness.

For a small nation, it dares to be different. As there are revolutions around the world rivaling corrupt leaders, Bhutan’s absolute monarch the 4th King, not only abdicated the throne to his son against the wishes of the people, but initiated a transition into democracy to give more power over to an elected government and its citizens. But despite this switch up in power, the country remains deeply in love with its Royal Family and this heartfelt loyalty is palpable.

Bhutan houses less than 1 million people; 70 times smaller than that of its southern neighbor India and 205 times smaller than the northern neighbor China. Yet it has remained harmonious with these giants while maintaining its own unique and traditional culture. And while capturing the hearts of less than thirty thousand visitors that the country allows in every year.

The peacefulness of Bhutan’s predominant Buddhist tradition flourishes in harmony with those of other faiths in country. This tranquility permeates the air and every being; human, cow, yak, dog, chicken and horse, exude this sense of ease in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Experience the essence of Bhutan.

Come for an adventure, and stay for the cultural experience of a life time.

 

Interesting Sights Along the Route

Bumthang is one of the most historic dzongkhags and has a number of ancient temples and sacred sites. Bumthang directly translates as “beautiful field”. “Thang” means field or flat place, and “Bum” is said be an abbreviation of “bumpa” (a vessel for holy water, thus describing the shape and nature of the valley).

Trongsa, means “new village” in Dzongkha. Trongsa Dzong, built in 1644, used to be the seat of power of the Wangchuck dynasty before becoming rulers of Bhutan in 1907. The dzong controlled east-west trade for centuries and the only road connecting eastern and western Bhutan before the advent of modern roads, passed through the courtyard of the dzong.

Wangdue Phodrang dzong was built in 1638. The name is said to have been given by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who was searching for the best location for a dzong to prevent incursions from the south. The word “Wangdue” means unification of Country, and “Phodrang” means Palace in the national language dzongkha.

Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961. The city is spread out longitudinally in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Wang Chuu, also known as the Thimphu Chuu.

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© 2020. All Rights Reserved. Photos courtesy of Red Bulletin/Justin Bastien