Referred as “The Last Shangri-La,” the Thunder Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan is the center of cultural and natural riches in South Asia. In one way, Bhutan is renowned for its national policies, one of which can be -“One of the last countries to introduce Television to its people, and later, Internet.”
The acute sense of preserving their ancient traditions, arts and culture, makes Bhutanese one of the most dedicated people on Earth. Though, geographically smaller than surrounding nations, Bhutan boasts a section of Great Himalaya in the North (Gangkhar Puensum, Kula Kangri and Jomolhari), ancient Buddhist monasteries and artistically rich cultures in the whole of South Asia.
In 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land to British India. Under British influence, a monarchy was set up in 1907.
~CIA Fact book
Top 5 Destinations in Bhutan
Thimpu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. Located in the western central part of the country, it became the capital in 1961. It doesn’t boast its own airport but relies on Paro International Airport, some 54 kms away. Most of the important political buildings in the country are located inside Thimpu, including the National Assembly of the parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace (the official residence of the King Jigme Kesar), and also Chanlimithang Stadium (In 1885, a battle ensued here, making Ugyen Wangchuk victorious and ultimate ruler of Bhutan).
Some of the other popular destinations it boasts are, National Post Office, the Clock Tower Square and the Motithang Takin Preserve (an erstwhile Zoo).
It is also one of just two capital cities in Asia that does not have a single traffic light. (The other is Pyongyang, North Korea.)
Located in Bumthang district, Jakar is a small city and the district capital. It also houses the famous Jakar Dzong, the regional dzong fortress. The name Jakar roughly translates as “white bird” in reference to its foundation myth (according to which a roosting white bird signaled the proper and auspicious location to found a monastery around 1549).
The town is the site of Chakhar Lhakhang, a small and unassuming temple which marks the site of the “Iron Palace” of Sindhu Raja, the Indian monarch who is believed to have first invited Guru Rinpoche to Bhutan in 746.
Home to Bhutan’s only international airport, Paro International Airport (IATA: PBH), Paro is equally rich in ancient culture and arts. Rinpung Dzong, a fortress-monastery overlooking the Paro valley is a place must visit (A monastery first built on the site by Guru Padmasambhava at the beginning of the 10th century, but it wasn’t until 1646 that Ngawang Namgyal built a larger monastery on the old foundations).
Also, on the hill above the Dzong stands an ancient watchtower called Ta Dzong which has been the National Museum of Bhutan, since 1967.
Punakha is the administrative center of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. Punakha acted as the capital city of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when the capital moved to Thimphu.
Pungthang Dewachen Gi Phodrang (the palace of happiness) and Punakha Dzong (In 1907, Punakha Dzong was the site of the coronation of Ugyen Wangchuck as the first King of Bhutan) is located in Punakha.
The valley is popular for its rice farming (red and white rice) in the whole of Bhutan.
5. Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest)
Paro Taktsang (also known as The Tiger’s Nest) is a temple complex and a sacred site for Buddhists. Dedicated to Guru Padmasambhva (The temple of Guru with eight names), the temple is situated hanging by the cliff.
Over the time, Tiger’s Nest has established itself as the symbol of Bhutan, and has been attracting foreign travelers and explorers into this small nation.
A temple was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup ( a cave where Guru Padmasambhava, credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan, is said to have meditated for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours in the 8th century.
The monastery is located 10 km (6.2 mi) to the north of Paro and hangs on a precipitous cliff at 3,120 m (10,240 ft).
Places must Visit (Map)
Download Bhutan Travel Guide.pdf (Powered by Lonely Planet)
- Opting a local travel agency can be a reasonable option. Nepal Vision Treks and Advanced Adventures are two of the tour operators offering quality travel services in Bhutan.
- You can visit Bhutan any time of the year. Visitors tend to stay away during the Monsoon (June, July & August) when the weather is sometimes a little wet for sightseeing.
- Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu) equivalent to Indian Rupee.
- Though not compulsory, you must research and prepare yourself about tipping, clothing and dining gestures of Bhutan.
- Anyone found guilty of killing a highly endangered and culturally sacred black-necked crane could be sentenced to life in prison.
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