Bhutan is the last Mahayana Buddhist kingdom in the world. A Vibrant paradise nestled in the Himalayas, its isolation from the world has cultivated a culture rich in traditions, religion and a benevolent monarchy, sit largely undisturbed as the endeared environmental initiatives and religious beliefs leave the Kingdom pristine and a jewel of nature., Bhutan covers an area of 38,394 square kilometers with a approximate population of 6, 72425 and it is hidden deep in the folds of the great Himalaya Mountains for years, The lush green valleys, virgin forests, clear fast flowing rivers and an enthralling landscape have made Bhutan an exclusive tourist destination today. The Kingdom has some of the most famous sites in the world for Buddhist pilgrims. Your holiday in Bhutan can be the ultimate spiritual experience. It is home to one of the most vibrant un-spoilt traditions and exciting cultures on earth.
Bhutan developed its own civilization where the people live in close harmony with nature, evolved a unique identity, derived largely from a rich religious and cultural heritage. After centuries of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan opened its door to the outside world, unveiling the shroud of mystery and mysticism that had surrounded it for ages. Today, it is a paradise in wilderness, amid gleaming razor peaks of the mighty Himalayas and every traveler has lot to anticipate discovering a kingdom with incredibly unique and treasured tradition, culture, religion and natural environment.
Bhutan is a unique country known for its scenic beauty and traditional culture dating back to centuries. The serene countryside is brought alive by colourful festival celebrated with dance and music. Religious fervor is all pervading force – it determines the lifestyle of the people and moulds their thoughts.
Archeological evidence suggests that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000-1500 BC. Although the destruction of original documents in fires and earthquakes has left much of Bhutan’s ancient history obscure, a few of the scriptures that were saved from such natural disasters reveal the prominence of Buddhist tradition and mythology. Other sources rely on reports from British explorers, and on legend and folklore.
Recorded Bhutanese history dates back to the 747 AD when Guru Rinpoche first visited the country. Regarded as the second Buddha and the patron saint of Bhutan, he introduced the Buddhist religion in the country, providing a sense of cohesion during the middle ages.
Until the early 17th century, Bhutan was a cluster of fragmented provinces constantly at odds with each other. It was Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, man who came to Bhutan on exile in the year 1616, a great spiritual personality and leader who brought an end to warring factions and unified the country into one nation, establishing a theocracy in 1652 and introducing a code of law. In the process of crushing several foreign invasions, mainly from Tibet, he initiated the building of many fortresses called Dzongs, which to this day, serves as centers of administration in the country.
The theocracy established by Zhabdrung endured until 1907 when Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first hereditary king of Bhutan by popular consensus. Jigme Wangchuck succeeded him and ruled the country from 1926 to 1952. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as the father of modern Bhutan, was king from 1952 to 1972. The present king His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended to the throne in 1972. But he abdicated himself and gave the throne to his son with the new government and new constitution, in which it says every king must resign at the age of 65, though he was not 65 he gave the throne to his son in the year 2008
The current king is His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck born in the year 1890
Mountainous Bhutan, half the size of Indiana, is situated on the southeast slope of the Himalayas, bordered on the north and east by Tibet and on the south and west and east by India. The landscape consists of a succession of lofty and rugged mountains and deep valleys. In the north, towering peaks reach a height of 24,000 ft (7,315 m).
Bhutan’s first national elections in March 2008 marked the country’s shift from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.
Bhutan has journeyed through several phases through history. It was inhabited by humans in early years of history. It witnessed internal strifes, practised Shamanism and then embraced Buddhism. It entered in conflict with the British and then the monarchy itself introduced democratic system in the country. History of the country can be segregated into following phases:
Archaeologists have dug out significant number of stone tools and megaliths in Bhutan. This testifies that Bhutan became man’s residence in early age of history, probably around 2000BC.
Arrival of Buddhism
Known history of Bhutan commences with the arrival of Buddhism in the country. People of Bhutan followed Shaman traditions before advent of Buddhism. Padmasambhava, who became popular as Guru Rimpoche, is credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. Between 8th and 17th century AD, several Buddhist monks arrived in Bhutan from Tibet and its birthplace India. The religion played an important role in bringing the people of the country together.
Emergence as a Country
Till early 17th century, Bhutan was the battleground of warring tribes. Credit of unifying them goes to Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan lama and military leader. Chased by political adversaries in Tibet, he came to Bhutan in 1616. He busied himself with military fortification and built number of fortresses. He introduced cultural symbols and established the dual system of government. Under this system, the power was shared by an administrative leader and a spiritual leader together.
Strife with the British
The Bhutanese occupied the Indian kingdom of Cooch Behar in the early 1700s. The Cooch Beharis appealed to the British for help. The British arrived and chased the Bhutanese out. They even attacked Bhutan in 1774 and forced the Bhutanese to sign a treaty. The treaty failed to bring peace between the two and border conflicts continued between them.
Ugyen Wangchuck, the Penlop of Trongsa, was the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan. He came to power in 1907. He was unanimously elected by the regional governors, the clergy and the representatives of the people to end factional rivalries and unending strife.
As a Modern Nation
King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, initiated landmark constitutional reforms in Bhutanese history. A National Assembly with 150 memebers was established. The country launched its first Five Year Development Plan in 1961 and opened itself to international community
Bhutan is a peaceful country with strong traditional values based on religion, respect for the royal family and care for the environment. Located in the magnificent Himalayas, Bhutan is also named as ‘The Land of Peaceful Thunder Dragon’ due to the regular feature of storms in the Himalayan region. Spread over 18,146 miles, Bhutan offers breathtaking mountain views, incredible scenic beauty, exciting wildlife and a rich culture and lifestyle which Bhutanese people still strives to preserve in the face of modernity. Explore the distinctive Bhutan architechture, Buddhist monasteries, carved wooden houses and the fine crafts on your tour to Bhutan.
Wildlife of Bhutan
Jigme Dorji National Park
Jigme Dorji National Park is named after the third king of Bhutan. It is one of the largest and protected sanctuaries of Bhutan and like all other national parks in Bhutan is operated under a development scheme operated by the World Wide Fund.
Flora & Fauna
Bhutan has it all in the form of its rich Flora & Fauna. Starting from the Blue Poppy which is also the National Flower of Bhutan, junipers, magnolias, edelweiss, uncommon orchids, giant rhubarb, tropical trees, pine trees and oak trees to its Fauna which includes red pandas, the golden langur, snow leopard, musk deer and the himalayan brown bear.
Shopping in Bhutan
Bhutan is considered to a good shopping destinations if one is looking for handicrafts and antique jewelry. Known for its famous shops selling handmade textiles, wooden products, carpets, metal jewelry and handicrafts. In fact the Handicrafts Emporium on the main street of Thimphu is open everyday to cater to the tourist population.