Introduction to Bhutan
Often described as the Last Shangri-la, Bhutan is perhaps the only Himalayan kingdom that is still free from the clutches of excessive globalization and economic development. Shrouded in timeless mystery, this fascinating land offers one of the most breathtaking travel experiences in the world. Its area, roughly the size of Switzerland, is marked by astounding natural beauty. Thanks to its diverse climate that the dense foliage changes dramatically from sub tropical jungles to fertile temperate zone and then to great northern glaciers. This pristine and varied environment is home to exotic wild life. It is the last refuge for endangered species like the Black-Necked Crane, Blue Sheep, Golden Langur and even the Royal Bengal Tiger. The Bhutanese are friendly and eager to welcome you and share their pristine enviroment, profound religion, timeless culure and stunning architecture. Travelling to Bhutan is a special occasion to experience a Himalayan Buddhist culture that has had little disturbance by outside influence, all set against a back-ground of breathtaking landscape. Visiting and travelling through Bhutan with Happy Bhutan Adventuers is fun and rapturous. We offer you a wide variety of travel itinerary and activities such as cultural tours, trekking in the regal mountainous terrain, motor bike tours, botanical tours, bird watching tours and buddhist pilgrimage with meditation practice, community tourism or a mix of these activities. Travel with Happy Bhutan Adventuers and you will savour a happy and an adventerous stay in this exotic land of the Thunder Dragon.
The ancient period of Bhutan that dates from the beginning till the 8th century AD, was marked by rural settlement, domestication of animals, agriculture, the first advent of Buddhism and subsequent buildings of Buddhist temples. The visit of Guru Padmasambhava and other Buddhists saints and scholars from India and Tibet marked the medieval Bhutan. Emergence of ruling clans and development of arts and architecture were also seen during this period. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a leader of the Drukpa sect, came to Bhutan in 17th century. He introduced the dual system of Government
Bhutan is a landlocked country wedged between the autonomous region of Tibet, China, in the north and India in the south along the lofty mountains of the eastern Himalayas. It is located between 88°45'and 92°10' longitude east and between 26°40' and 28°15' latitude north. It covers 46,500 square kilometers and has population of 650,000 with seventy five percent of the population living on cultivation and livestock rearing. Bhutan is the land of complex gorges and valleys, soaring snow-peaked mountains and steep slopes, humid jungles and foothills, magnificent lakes and waterfalls, fast flowing rivers and streams and the richest biodiversity of flora and fauna.
Bhutan has four distinct seasons. Each has its advantage and disadvantages for the visitor. Notice should be taken of the predictaqble weather paterns before making decisions when to visit. Remember even predictable weathewr can vary dramatically plains close to the Indian border are warmer and more tropical than higher central valley. Spring is arguably the most beautiful time of the year in the Kingdom. The fierce cold that characterized the winter months tend to subside towards the end of the February (around Bhutanese New Year, Lhosar). Rhododendron begins to bloom, first in the warmer east. At the height of spring, the end of the march, the whole kingdom comes to life with the spectacular flaming red, pink, and white of the rhododendron blossom. The annual monsoon from the Bay of Bengal affects the south and central regions. Thenorth is ihabited in the summer months when nomads return to the higher plains to tend to their yak herds.
Flora & Funa
Bhutan has about 72% of its area under forest cover. Over 5000 species of plants grow in Bhutan. These include 300 species of medicinal plants, over 50 species of rhododendron and 600 species of orchids. The great variety of fauna includes: elephants, tigers, buffalo, one horned rhinoceros (rhinoceros unicornis), leopards (panthara pardus), gaur, red pandas, langur monkeys, wild boar, deer, white-collared black bears, yaks (bos gruniens), tahr (hemitragus jemlahicus) and goral (naemorhedus goral). Brown trout and local fishes are found in northern rivers and lakes, while in the south the rivers are full of masheer.
The Buddhist faith has played and continues to play 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 (tsechus and dromchoes) are spiritual occasions in each district and are dedicated to either Guru Rimpoche or other deities. Throughout Bhutan, stupas and chortens line the roadside commemorating a place where Guru Rimpoche or another Shabdrung may have stopped to meditate. Prayers flags are even more common. Fluttering on longs poles, they maintain constant communication with the heavens.
Early records suggest scattered clusters of inhabitants had already settled in Bhutan when the first recorded settlers arrived 1,400 years ago.Bhutan indigenous population is the Drukpa. Three main ethnic groups, the Sharchops, Ngzalops and the Lhotshampas (of Nepalese origin) make up today’s Drukpa. Bhutan’s earliest residents, the Sharchops, reside predominantly in eastern Bhutan. Their origin can be traced to the tribes of the north Burma and the northeast India. The Ngalops migrated from the Tibetan plains and are the importers of Buddhism to the Kingdom.most of the Lhotshamps migrated to the southern plains in search of agricultural land and work in the early 20th century.
Art & Architecture
The traditional Bhutanese arts and architecture are unique. They are highly decorative and ornamental. The traditional Bhutanese architecture has no nails or iron bars. The Bhutanese architectural grandeur is exhibited in the form of Dzongs, monasteries, temples, chortens and traditional Bhutanese houses. The Dzong architecture is one of the most elegant and harmonious in the world. The genius of Bhutanese art is best expressed in frescoes and paintings. Bhutan’s thangkas and mandalas depict an artistic skill and a rare exquisite fineness. The mandala or mystic circle represents the Buddhist concept of cosmogony of the universe. The statues are made of wood, stones, bronze, coral, pearl and other expensive materials, which depicts fine craftsmanship of the Bhutanese artists.
Entertainment & Sports
The national sport of Bhutan is archery. The bows and arrows are made up of special kind of bamboo. Bhutanese also popularly use carbonite Hoyt brand bows. Bhutanese also play western sports like soccer, basketball and volleyball. Basketball has become popular especially among youths and students. Badminton, golf, table tennis, cricket, tennis and taekondo are also played. The modern entertainments such as cinema, discotheques and snooker parlours have liberally sprung up in the larger towns. These places are often being flocked by students, businessmen and civil servants.
Bhutanese economy is predominantly agrarian. About 75% of the population depends on subsistence farming and livestock rearing. The food crops are rice, maize, millet, wheat, buckwheat and barley. The cash crops include apples, oranges, potatoes, cardamom and mustard. Bhutan exports agro products like apples, oranges, mushrooms, canned fruit and jams. The country also exports forestry products like timber and lemon grass oil. Cement, ferro alloys, calcium carbide, coal and gypsum are also exported. Tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner for Bhutan. The country’s largest source of earning is the hydroelectric power. It contributes about 25% of the government revenue. Bhutan also exports postage stamps
Bhutan is relatively egalitarian society where social inequity has never been a major issue. Many social problems such as gender bias and poverty issues are either non-issues or less accentuated in the country as compared to in the region. Bhutan is a “ gender balanced” country, which partly explains why there have been no specific policies or strategies targeting the upliftment of women. Women enjoy equality under the law and in the society and their active involvement in all spheres of socio-economic development has contributed immensely to the rapid progress achieved in the country.
The contrasting ethnic diversity of the Bhutanese people has meant that a number of different languages and dialects are spoken throughout the kingdom. People speak more than 18 dialects at present. The national language is Dzongkha, which is taught at all schools. So different are the dialects that eastern and western neighbors can have great difficulty understanding each other. English is widely spoken in the country, which makes it easier for the tourist to communicate.
Bhutanese men wear a Gho, which is longish, robe tied around the waist by small belt known as Kera. The women’s ankle length dress called Kira, which are brightly coloured, finely woven fabrics with traditional patterns.