Discover what Bhutan, the Last Shangrila on Earth, has in store for you...  
 
 

About Bhutan

Geography

Bhutan is a landlocked country. It is about 47,000 kilometres - roughly the size of Switzerland. It is located between Tibet in the north, Indian states of West Bengal and Assam in the south, and Arunachal Pradesh in the east. Bhutan is a land of soaring snowcapped peaks, alpine meadows and densely forested hills and ravines abounding in exotic flora and fauna. From May to August, hills are covered with an awesome variety of flowers decorated with waterfalls and streams gushing in wild abandon.

History

Bhutan's early history is steeped in Buddhist tradition and mythology. Bhutan's medieval and modern history was a time of warlords, feuds, giant fortresses and castles. The visit of Padama Sambhava in 747 AD is the important landmark in the history of the country. The kingdom's recent history begins with a hereditary monarchy that was founded in the 20th century and continued the country's policy of isolationism. It was under the leadership of the third king that Bhutan emerged from its medieval past of serfdom and reclusion. Despite the speed of modernization, Bhutan has maintained a policy of careful, controlled policy of development in order to preserve its national identity. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, to the Bhutanese, the country is known as Druk Yul, 'land of the thunder dragon'. The people are known as the Drukpas.

Religion/ Culture

The State religion is Drukpa Kagyupa a branch of Mahayana Buddhism. It has been institutionalised in the Dratshang (Central Monk body), headed by the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) who is chosen from among the most learned lamas and enjoys an equal rank with the King. Bhutan is the only country in the world to have adopted Mahayana Buddhism in its Tantric form as its official religion. 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.

People

Bhutanese are a Mongolid race of people who originally migrated into and settled the country in the 7th Century AD. A nomadic and pastoral society at first, they gradually turned to agriculture in the fertile valleys. There are three main ethnic groups - the Ngalongs in the western and central regions are the descendants of Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Bhutan from the 9th century. The Sharchops who live in the east of the country, are recognized as the original inhabitants of Bhutan. The third group is known as Lhotshampas. They represent the Nepali speaking ethnic group. The total population of Bhutan is about 683,407. (Projected for 2009)

National Flag

The national flag of Bhutan is rectangular in divided diagonally into two parts with a white dragon in middle. The upper yellow portion signifies the country’s secular authority of the King in fruitful action in the affairs of religion and state. The lower saffron orange half signifies the religious practicesand spiritual power of Buddhism manifested in the Drukpa Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. The dragon symbolizes the name of the country locally known as Druk Yul, meaning Land of the Thunder Dragon and its white colour show the purity and loyalty of the people. The snarling mouth of the dragon of the dragon expresses the strength of male and female deities protecting Bhutan, while the jewels in its claws represent the wealth, prosperity and perfection of the country and the people.

Dress

Bhutanese men wear gho, which are longish robes tied around the waist by cloth belt, known as kera. The women’s wear ankle length dress is known as kira.

Weather

Bhutan enjoys four seasons each having its advantages and disadvantages to the visitor. The southern plains close to the Indian border are warmer and more tropical than higher central valleys.

Spring is perhaps the most beautiful time of the year when the fierce cold that characterizes the winter months tends to subside towards the end of February with beautiful Rhododendron blooming with spectacular flaming red, pink and white colours. Summer months in the southern region are generally hot whereas in other parts of the country it is warm and pleasant with average maximum temperatures not exceeding 30 degrees Celsius and the minimum at around 10-15 degrees Celsius. The annual monsoon from the Bay of Bengal is also experienced around the country between June and September.

The autumn months from September to November bring shorter days and cooler evenings. The days are crisp with clear skies. Views over the Himalayas are usually the best during September to March. Beginning December the weather takes on its winter coat where days remain crisp and the nights turn cold. The southern region however being much lower has a more temperate climate and considerably warmer winters

Currency

Ngultrum, the currency of Bhutan has the same value as the Indian rupee, which is also a legal tender. One US$ is roughly equal to Nu 48.

 


 
 
 
         

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