A Travel Guide for Bhutan-The Land of the Thunder Dragon
Fast Facts about Bhutan
Date of Formation: Early 17th century
Total Area– 38,394 square kilometers
Official languages– Dzongkha, Tshanglakha,
Annual temperature– 15 ° C to 30° C
Best time to visit– September to May
Famed as the ‘Land of the Dragon’, Bhutan is a small Himalayan kingdom snuggled between the Tibet and India. The mountain kingdom is replete with myths & legends, where the traditional culture proliferates and modernization is welcomed. The region is encompassed by the stunning natural beauty and the nation is perceived as a country tied by the strong sense of tradition and culture.
Bhutan holds many surprises under its sleeves. This is a country where rice is red, chilies are main ingredient and buying cigarettes is illegal. There are so many interesting things to do and see in this country. From snow-capped mountains peaks to historical relics, Bhutan has a lot to offer to its guests. Some important places that you should visit and explore include Thimphu (The Capital City), Paro, Punakha, Gasa, Trongsa and Bumthang etc.
Bhutan is a small region but weather fluctuates from north to south and valley to valley, mainly depending upon the altitude. The northern part of Bhutan is perpetually covered with snow. In the eastern, western and central part of Bhutan, you will experience a European-like weather. There are four distinct seasons in Bhutan and the average temperature ranges between 15
The early history of Bhutan is related to mythology and dates back to 2000 BC. Legend has it that it was ruled by Sangaldip, a Cooch Behar king, in the 7th century B.C. The merger of Bhutan took place in 1616 when Ngawanag Namgyal, a lama from western Tibet known as the Shabdrung Rinpoche, beaten three Tibetan invasions. Following his death, in 1885, Ugyen Wangchuk combined his powers and developed closer ties with the British in India.
On December 17, 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the ruler of Bhutan and installed as the head of State Druk Gyalpo. In 1947, when India gained independence, the new government recognized Bhutan as an independent nation. During the rule of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, from 1952 to 1972, Bhutan started witnessing a program of planned development. In 1971, Bhutan became the member of United Nations and the National Assembly was developed, the Royal Bhutanese Army and the High Court.
In 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended the throne at the age of 20 years. He accentuated on modern education, decentralization of governance, development of hydroelectricity and tourism in rural developments. In 2008, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck became king on his resignation.
Culturally, Bhutan is a Buddhist nation with Dzongkha as the national language. Other regional languages include Sharchopkha, which is predominantly spoken in Eastern Bhutan. A trip to Bhutan can introduce you to vibrant colors, deep spirituality and growing traditions. Bhutan has a host of sights and events to dazzle its visitors.
Fairs and Festivals in Bhutan
The Spring Festival at Paro
Festivals are an important part of Bhutan travel tour and the Paro Festival is truly unbeatable. Also known as Tsechu, The Paro Festival is the main Buddhist festival of Bhutan. It takes place over a period of 5 days in spring. The event is organized at a magnificent riverside monastery in Paro. The highlight of this festival is the unfolding of a 3-story high Thangkha. The event includes a series of dance and shows, masked dancers & naughty clowns and colorful & elaborate costumes.
The economy of Bhutan is mainly based on agriculture, which along with livestock keeping is the main source of livelihood for over 80% population. Except cottage building and forestry, there is no other real industry in Bhutan. The largest export product of Bhutan is hydroelectric power. The major trading partner of Bhutan is India. Bhutan is a major source of imports for India (around 70%). The kingdom also has a preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh. Apart from hydroelectric power, tourism is also a huge source of income. Environment friendly, economical viability and sustainability are three strong principles of Bhutan’s tourism industry.
The culture of Bhutan is very much apparent in its traditional clothing, which its people have been wearing for centuries. The machine milled clothes are popular for daily wear. The traditionally woven dress is worn on all formal occasions which include working in the office. The men wear a gho, which is tied on the waist with a small hand-woven kera. On the upper body, a large pouch is worn in which men can carry traditional items such as a bowl and the betel nut. The costume is completed with long socks and boots.
Women wear kera, an ankle length dress, which is made from finely woven fabrics. It has traditional and beautifully colored patterns. Under the kera, women wear a blouse which is held in place over the shoulder with a silver clip. Usually, an open jacket is worn over the dress.
Some popular places in Bhutan
Centenary Farmers Market
Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA)
National Textile Museum
National Memorial Chorten (Stupa)
National Institute of Traditional Medicine
Dechen Phodrang Monastery
Clock Tower Square
Jigme Dorji National Park
General Tips for Tourists
- A visa is necessary before planning your trip to Bhutan
- The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum
- Weather in Bhutan varies throughout the year
- Archery is an ancient art of Bhutan
- Bhutan is the only Vajrayana Buddhist country in the world
- Dzongkha, Tshanglakha, and Lhotshamka are languages used in Bhutan
How to reach Bhutan by Air
If you are looking forward to travel Bhutan from India, Druk Air operates regular flights from Paro to Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Gaya, Dhaka and Bangkok and vice versa. Paro Airport is the only airport connecting Bhutan with the rest of the world through a network of flights.
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