A Brief about Bhutan
A tiny kingdom, tucked away like a secret charm between two giants, India and China, in the southeastern Himalayas, Bhutan or Druk-Yul, is also known as the last Shangri La on earth. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains with a rich variety of flora and fauna thriving in the southern foothills to the alpine pastures, Bhutan is a singular destination for visitors who want to experience pristine natural beauty at its best, hear the singing of crystalline rivers and brooks, and also feel the warmth and hospitality of the Bhutanese people. The Bhutanese are an open and friendly people who consist primarily of three ethnicities: Ngalops, who live in the western region, the Sarchops, the easterners and the Lhotshampas, the southern Bhutanese of Nepalese origin. Bhutan is guided by the principle of Gross National Happiness, a philosophy where a holistic approach to well being is used to measure people’s happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product. Besides being known as a “happy” nation, Bhutan has preserved its unique cultural and traditional identity plus sovereignty from time immemorial. People are proud to wear their national attire, take pride in their culture and close family bonds, and harbor genuine reverence for their Kings. Bhutan became a democracy in 2008 without having to fight for it. The Fourth King gifted democracy to the people when he abdicated the throne in favor of his son, the present King. Apart from Bhutan’s special history, the most heartening thing, perhaps for visitors to Bhutan, is that the Bhutanese are warm and deferential, quick to listen, act and form friendships. Also, a quick look at what the Bhutanese deem appetizing for the palate: they are fans of hot and spicy food! Indeed, chili is used as a vegetable instead of a condiment and “ema-datshi”, chili cooked in a cheese stew, served with a mountain of rice is the national dish. If you are looking out for a destination that will offer you a refuge from the humdrum of the ever busy and changing world, visit Bhutan for a truly unique and spectacular experience!
Bhutan’s early history is steeped in Buddhist folklore and mythology; it features tremendous deeds and beings with supernatural powers. It’s said that a saint who had the ability to appear in eight different forms, one of them being Guru Rinpoche, visited Bhutan on a flying tiger and left the imprint of his body and his hat on rocks. School texts describe demons that threatened villages and destroyed temples until captured through magic and converted to Buddhism. Tales abound of ghosts who destroyed temples, and angels who rebuilt them. Researchers have attached dates to many events, though these often do not seem to fit together into a credible and accurate chronology. When reading Bhutanese history, it’s easier to let your imagination flow. Try visualising the spirit of the happenings rather than rationalising events as historical truth. This will, in part, help prepare you for a visit to Bhutan, where spirits, ghosts, yetis, medicine men, and lamas reincarnated in three different bodies are accepted as a part of daily life.
Bhutan is a rich mosaic of cultures, lifestyles, languages and belief systems. In a country with a population of just over half a million, as many as 19 different dialects and a few languages are spoken. This is attributed to the fact that in the past, Bhutanese communities settled in the valleys with limited communication. It is for the same reason that the sense of individuality and independence emerges as a strong characteristic of the people. The Bhutanese are, by nature, physically strong and fiercely independent with an open and ready sense of humour. Hospitality is an in-built social value in Bhutan. People wear colourful dresses, the men wear a Gho, a long robe tied around the waist by a slim fabric belt, or Kera. Kira, the main garment of women is an ankle length wrap-around.
The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters while central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters. The northern region has severe alpine climate and is perpetually under snow. Rainfall can differ within relatively short distances due to rain shadow effectsThe climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north.
Bhutan's traditional culture is alive in its performing arts, such as dance and music, which are an integral part of religious ceremonies. In addition, secular performances such as dance, songs, traditional instrumental music, drama based on biographies of religious personalities hold a special place in the lives of the people as they play an important role in national, village, or domestic functions and festivals. Bhutan's textile tradition has, in recent years, gone international. The distinct technique, colour and style of indigenous Bhutanese weaving is being increasingly appreciated by textile specialists, collectors and users.
What a delight it was meeting you Phurba. Gross National Happiness? Well, smiles everywhere! You dealt with my tour in the most friendly, transparF J Shanks, France
It is our absolute pleasure to thank Bhutan Peaceful Holidays for a wonderful time we had in Bhutan and in particular being guided by you and your tBaba and Group, USA