Nestled in the Himalayas is the delightful Kingdom of Bhutan. A very special place that is a true privilege to visit.
Bhutan cautiously emerged from isolation in the 1970’s and, after initially embracing a policy of strictly controlled tourism and development, is now quickly connecting with the modern world around it.
Bhutan is a still a rare gem. Air seat & hotel capacity restrictions still limit tourist visitor numbers to a low level on global standards although access is now much easier with more air seats from more cities available since early 2014. In 2013 approximately only 48,000 foreign tourists (excluding Indian nationals) obtained visas to enter and taste the delights of Bhutan’s wonderful Buddhist culture, marvel at her magnificent scenery, trek through a stunning array of mountains and valleys and occasionally view some of the world’s rarest flora and fauna in a largely unspoiled environment.
By far the best times to consider a visit are the low season periods of June-August (Summer) and December-February (Winter) when tourist numbers dwindle and a genuinely more rewarding experience is offered those visitors despite a little adverse weather at times.
Bhutan continues to resist rampant globalization and therefore has protected its strong Buddhist culture and way of life. There is little crime, a stable government and exceptionally friendly people.
Whether you are a:
- culture seeker
- trekker or adventure seeker
- scenery lover
- motor cyclist
- nature lover … Bhutan is a must see destination, like no other.
The Kingdom of Bhutan, almost exactly the same size as Switzerland, lies east of the Indian state of Sikkim and west of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is south of Tibetan region of China and north of the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.
Located in the heart of the eastern Himalayan mountain range, Bhutan is a land-locked country surrounded by mountains in the north and west. However its deep valleys running south from the Himalayas offer a remarkably temperate climate, even in winter when compared to northern Europe or northern USA, and a visit can be made any time of the year.
Altitudes in the far south range from 300 to 1370 metres and in the more populated central region range from 120 metres in the east around Trashigang to a high of 5190 metres over the highest pass. The altitude at Paro airport is approx 2235 metres and in the capital Thimphu 2347 metres.
King & Government
The current 5th King of Bhutan is King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who was crowned on 09 December, 2006 and, along with his wife Queen Pema, remains very close to all the citizens of Bhutan who hold their monarchy with deep respect. Few nations can boast to a dynasty of 5 Kings who have all shown great courage, vision, wisdom and compassion.
The 4th King made the monumental and far-sighted decision to convert Bhutan to a full democracy, forming a Parliament, and paving the way for free and fair democratic elections in 2006. The current Prime Minister is Lyoenchhen Tshering Tobgay who was elected in 2013 and is forged with the task of handling Bhutan’s many challenges as it continues to rapidly modernize.
Religion in Bhutan
The Buddhist faith plays a fundamental role in the cultural, ethical and sociological development of Bhutan and its people. It permeates all strands of secular life, bringing with it a reverence for the land and its well being. Annual festivals are held in each district, which are important spiritual occasions.
Bhutan is perhaps the only country in the world to retain the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion. To ensure the perpetuation of Buddhism in the Kingdom, one son from each family normally attends monastic school, although this has become less popular over the last 10 years.
The Dzongs are both centres of administrative and government activities for an entire valley and they are also predominantly the homes and temples of the monastic community.