The Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is an amply modern country yet medieval with one foot still rooted in its past. Bhutan is aware of the downsides of rapid modernization and has decided to move cautiously without losing its soul. Sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of culture and tradition, and preservation and protection of natural environment are at the forefront of government policy. Every decision is carefully weighed for the benefit of its people. The government’s ‘high value-low volume’ tourism policy is therefore a good example of its efforts to keep foreign influences at bay while nurturing Bhutanese values at home. This gives Bhutan a different look and feel altogether, a visual and spiritual feast for all visitors. The kingdom of Happiness is now every traveler’s dream destination. Thus, the carefully controlled tourism policy of the Bhutanese government says, “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footsteps”
The Safest Place to Travel
Hidden in the Mighty Himalayas, even the most seasoned travelers consider themselves privileged to visit Bhutan. The people of Bhutan, always smiling will greet you with all the warmth that they have in their heart and you will certainly be happy to see the happy and content faces. In Bhutan you will find no bugging shop keepers, no intense tourist traps, no tourist sites commercialized. Forget about all these, you won’t find a single beggar in the whole country. Bhutanese are very decent, helpful and maximum number of the citizens are Buddhist and strongly believe in being kind. Here the crime rate is zero because Bhutanese believes in peace and is often known as the happiest and peaceful place on earth. For some it is also referred as The Last Shangrila. For all these reasons ,Bhutan is the safest place on earth for travelers
Bhutan is a unique land, having survived the centuries by maintaining a distinct identity with its rich cultural heritage and made it the essence of its unique identity, the kingdom hopes to face the future by drawing on its past Bhutanese arts and crafts, ceremonies and events, language and literature, and basic social and cultural values draw their essence from religious teachings. The tradition of fine art is alive today, the exquisite traditional painting is also visible on monasteries and houses, skillfully enhancing the architecture. Architecture is also a significant feature of the Bhutanese identity. The combination of engineering skill and aesthetic beauty is unparalleled in all structures, from the massive monastic fortresses to houses and bridges. Traditional shapes, colors and patterns on the walls, doors and windows, place Bhutanese architecture in a class of its own.
Bhutan, all the natural elements like mountains, rivers, rocks and even the tress have been revered and considered sacred for centuries as the abode of local deities and gods. Such beliefs have helped and complimented the people in natural conservation efforts. In Historical records Bhutan was known as Lhojong Menjong ‘the Southern Valley of Medicinal Herbs.’ Besides these rare herbs, the Bhutanese seasons are reflected in colors by wildflowers and plants, which carpet the mountainsides. Bhutan is always regarded as a natural paradise. This small Himalayan Kingdom is emerging as an example to the international community, of the peaceful relationship between man and nature. More than 72 percent of the land in Bhutan are still under forest cover. Bhutan is part of the Eastern Himalayan biodiversity hot spot. The diverse ecosystems and eco-floristic zones have made Bhutan home to a wide array of flora and fauna including some endangered species. Bhutan’s natural terrain ranges from the sub-tropical foothills in the south, through the temperate zones, to dizzying heights of over 7,300 meters (24,000 feet).
Bhutan is the nation where the concept of Gross National Happiness was developed. The nation monitors their citizen’s prosperity by measuring their happiness. This reflects in the warm nature of the people who live here. Bhutanese are, in many ways, one large family. More than 80 percent of the people live on subsistence farming, scattered in sparsely populated villages across the rugged terrain of the Himalayas. Bhutanese communities settled in the valleys with limited communication in the past, it is for this reason that the sense of individuality and independence emerges as a strong characteristic of the people. It is for the same reason that, despite the small population, it has developed many languages and dialects. The Bhutanese are, by nature, physically strong and fiercely independent with open and ready sense of humor. Hospitality is an in-built social value in Bhutan.
The Unconquered Land
Bhutan has been independent for more than 2000 years. It is a matter of great pride to the Bhutanese that their small kingdom has never been conquered or colonized. Its ancient history, a mixture of oral tradition and classical literature, tells of a largely self-sufficient population, which had limited contact with the outside world until the turn of the century. Among the earliest landmarks of Bhutanese history visible today are two seventh-century monasteries, the Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro and Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang. Both these deeply revered monasteries have been preserved and developed over the centuries. IN the eighth century, Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) established several sacred religious sites, which are important places of pilgrimage for the Buddhist world today. Among them are the Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang and the Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery in Paro.