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BHUTAN

BHUTAN

INTRODUCTION OF BHUTAN

Bhutan covers an area of 47,000 sq. kms with a population of less than 700,000 inhabitants. These figures however do not reflect the incredible geographical & ecological diversity of the country nor its natural wealth. The range of altitudes revel its variety, rising from 300m on the Indian frontier to 7,300m on the Tibet border. The land is reminiscent of a gigantic staircase. The name Bhutan is said to be derived from the ancient Indian term Bhotana, which means the end of the land of the Bhots (the Sanskrit name of Tibetans). It could have also been extended from the Sanskrit word “Bhu’uttan” or high land. Ancient Tibetan writers called their fertile neighbour Lho Mon or Lho Yul, paradise of the South or the Land of the Monpas. The Bhutanese refer to their country as Druk Yul or land of the Peaceful dragon. Druk meaning dragon and extending from the predominant Drukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Bhutan was not unified under a central authority until the 17th Century. However, religious presence in the country acted as a spiritual cohesion for many years. Guru Padmasambhava made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on a tigress’ back arriving at Taktsang Monastery, Tiger’s Nest in the Paro valley. Guru Padmasambhava is recognized as the father of the Nyingmapa religious school. Many of Bhutan’s celebrated ancestors descend from the Nyingmapa School. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan Lama of the Drukpa School designed the present systems of the intertwined religious and secular government. He fought and won battles against the Tibetans in 1639 and so unified the country and established himself as the country’s supreme leader. Within five years of his death, the whole country had come under the control of the central government. At the end of 19th century, the Penlop of Tongsa overcame the Penlop of Paro and was afterwards recognized as the overall leader of Bhutan. Ugyen Wangchuck was elected the first King of Bhutan in 1907 AD. This Himalayan paradise is still wrapped in a time, recollected by many as “those good old days”.

Bhutan is still restricted and is accessed by us for you. With modern transportation facilities, you can now comfortably experience the warm hospitality of its friendly people, the carefree Bhutanese lifestyle and the culture of the peaceful heaven. Magnificent scenery, fortresses from the past that are awesome in design, monasteries that are out of the world. Here too, are treks in a mountainous wilderness and here too, are festivals as colourful as any artist’s palette and alive with traditional chants & dancing. Bhutan which is still tourist young and where there are palaces and huge fort like Dzongs. The impossible monasteries like Taktsang and the unspoiled green grandeur of the country have still to be discovered. Throughout the centuries, the Bhutanese have treasured their natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. The National carrier Druk Air operates from the only international airport in Paro with 75-seater BAE-146, a four engine jet aircraft. It has scheduled flights to Kathmandu, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangkok & Yangon. By road, it is possible to drive via India to the Bhutanese town of Phuntsoling, gateway town in the southwest.

The Kingdom lies east of Nepal and west of the Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh, south of Tibet and north of the Indian state territories of West Bengal & Assam. Bhutan is a landlocked country surrounded by mountains to the north & west. The altitudes in the south range from 1000 to 4500 feet. From 4000 feet in the east around Tashigang to a high of 17,000 feet over the highest pass. The altitude at Thimpu, the capital is 7,700 feet.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a tranquil country where you can explore the ancient cultures, beautiful landscapes and magnificent architecture.Bhutan, called Druk Yul by its people, is known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. It is one of the world’s most beautiful, yet mysterious places. It is located on the eastern edge of the Himalayan Mountain region. A large part of the area is forested welcoming a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna. The country stretches from subtropical valleys and plains to snowcapped mountain ranges. This landscape makes it the perfect place to trek through the majestic valleys or steep mountains to visit ancient architecture and Buddhist temples.

Bhutan has a rich culture where most of its 700,000 inhabitants practice the Buddhist religion. This secluded land has a rich history embedded into the society and shows through the festival reenactments. Bhutan’s ancient cultural traditions have continued to grow despite the current technological restructuring. Only since the mid 1970’s technology has come to Bhutan. It has become the ultimate tourist destination for adventurers, spiritual awakenings, and serene vilages.

Climate

Bhutan has four distinct seasons. The southern plains close to Indian borders are warmer and more tropical than higher central valleys. The winter months are fiercely cold subsiding around the end of February. Rhododendrons begin to bloom first in warmer east and by the height of Spring; the whole kingdom is lush with spectacular flaming white, pink and red of the Rhododendron blossom. The annual monsoon affects south & central regions.

People & Religion

Bhutan’s indigenous population is the Drukpa. The three main ethnic groups, the Sharchops, the Ngalops & the Lhotshampas (of Nepalese origin) make up today’s Drukpa. The national language is Dzongkha. The Buddhist faith has played & continues to play a fundamental role in the cultural, ethical & sociological development of Bhutan and its people. It permeates all strands of secular life. Bringing with it a reverence for the land & its well being. Annual Tsechus & Dromchoes are spiritual occasions in each district. Throughout Bhutan, stupas, & chortens line in the roadside commemorating a holy place. Prayer flags are found fluttering on long poles maintaining a constant communications with the heavens. Bhutan retains the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion.

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