Welcome to the land of Thunder Dragon
Bhutan is a small country nested away in the Himalayas sandwiched between India in the South and China in the North. It is one of the last Mahayana Buddhist countries in the world with unique culture and tradition that was perfectly preserved by for fathers. Buddhism came to this kingdom in the 8th century with the arrival of great scholar Guru Padmasambawa. Since then many great Lamas has blessed this country and was consider as last Shangri-La.
This spiritual land is a home for the 750,000 people that are from different community with their own unique dialects and culture. 65% of Bhutanese live on farms, in remote hamlets, amidst sylvan settings. The fast life that is both blends of old and new is alien to the season-paced lifestyle of this agrarian folk. The national dress is a distinctive one, finely woven from multicolored, vibrant-hued wool, cotton or silk. The male attire is called a “gho” and the female, the “kira”.
72% of the country is still under the forest cover and its pristine ecology is a home to rare and endangered flora and fauna. In order to preserve the environment and endangered species, Government of Bhutan has draft the Constitution by stating that the country shall always maintain 60% under forest cover. Many mountains in the country is still unnamed and through those mountains glacier streams mender down to warmer valley throughout the Kingdom. Pray flags and Temples hover over the mountain creating a perfect scenario for a person to get lost in the time.
The essences of Bhutan are found in the paintings depicted on temple walls and “Thankas” (Portrait). It holds the stories untold and makes one to travel through times with sense of happiness. Around the world Bhutan is also known for its system of GNH (Gross National Happiness) coined by our Forth Druk Gyelpo King Jigme Singay Wangchuck. All the country growth is measured in terms of GNH than GDP.
One travels the world to test different type of food and Bhutan too holds around 160 different types of cousins. The cousin of the country is robust with lots of meat, cereals and vegetables, liberally spiced with chilies. One of the cousins that Bhutanese people consider as signature dish is “Ema Datshe” which is a mixture of locally made cheese and red chili. Set meals for travelers tend to be on the bland side, because local food is heavily seasoned with red chilies and can be quite hot. Most hotels provide meals buffet-style. “Suja” Salted butter tea is customarily and frequently served along with puffed or pounded rice and maize. Locally brewed wines are made of potent rice, wheat and barley. Generally Bhutanese foods are good and organic.
In Bhutan festival are enjoyed by local people as well as by the visitors. There are numerous occasion through the year in Bhutan where people gather together to pray and enjoy with loves ones. During those festival religious dance called “Cham” (Mask Dance) are performed by monks and lay monk. Dancers wear spectacular costumes made of yellow silk or rich brocade often decorated with ornaments of carved bone. For certain dances, they wear masks, which may represent animals, fearsome deities, skulls, manifestation of Guru Rimpoche or just the simple human beings. Local villagers also perform their unique dace that are handed down from centuries and one get to see different dress code worn by men and women.
Bhutan national sport is “Archery” where a person usually plays with a homemade bamboo bows and arrows. It is the popular game enjoyed by youth as well as old and is an integral part of most festivities served with music, dance, drinks and fun. The game of archery is a sport where the target is so small and is distance of one rogue bee field. It draws huge crowds that supporters their own team and no streaking hooligans. If anyone is all pumped up, it is the archers themselves. To the Bhutanese, it’s a tourist sport and a very saleable one at that too. It has tremendous tourist appeal. Archery is tradition; it’s songs and dances and jeers and near-primitive howls.
The ‘Dong Gyem Tsey’s or Takin is Bhutan’s national animal and its uniqueness associate with the country religious history and mythology. It was during the time of Lama Drukpa Kuenly (1455 – 1529) the Divine Madman who is known for his outrageous antic. One day his devotees were gathered to witness his magical power and they asked him to perform a miracle. He then attached the goat head on the body of yak, since then the mystical creature was consider special and unique.
It is a matter of great pride to the Bhutanese that the small kingdom was never colonized. Its ancient history, which is a mixture of the 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.
Wirth that Bhutan is the land where people believe that fluttering prayer flag, hoisted on mountain passes, carry messages and prayers for peace and happiness of all sentient beings in the valley.
Culture of Bhutan
Bhutan is culturally rich in its language, literature, arts and crafts, events, ceremonies and social cultural values which are drawn from their religious teachings. All those tradition are still alive today and one can see it through exquisite traditional paintings on walls of monasteries, house and enchanting architecture.
Linguistically, Bhutan is rich with over eighteen dialects spoken throughout the country and Dzongkha is the national language of the country. It is the native language of the Ngalops of western Bhutan it literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs and administrative centers of Bhutan. The other major languages are the Tshanglakha, the eastern native language and the Lhotshamkha spoken by the southern Bhutanese of Nepali origin. Therefore Bhutan is generally categorized into three main ethnic groups of Tshanglas, Ngalops and the Lhotshampas. The other minority groups are the Bumthaps and the Khengpas of Central Bhutan, the Kurtoeps in Lhuentse, the Brokpas and the Bramis of Merak and Sakteng in eastern Bhutan, the Doyas of Samtse and the Monpas of Rukha villages in Wangdue Phodrang.
Architecture is also a significant feature of the Bhutanese identity and it can be found in every house, monasteries and bridge. It is the combination of engineering skill and aesthetic beauty which are traditionally shaped, colored and has put Bhutanese architecture in a class of its own.
As 70 percent of the people live on subsistence farming and is scattered in sparsely populated villages across the rugged terrain of the Himalayas still Music, dance, and handicrafts, both by the clergy and the lay population, play an important role in national, village, or domestic functions and festivals. It is for the same reason that, despite the small population, it has developed a number of 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
That one thing that Bhutan can offer to outside world is its pristine environment which is perfectly preserved and protected. There are 6 wild life sanctuaries in the country to keep our rich biodiversity intact and harm from development activities. Each of these parks and sanctuaries has its own special character and are homes to endangered animals, birds and plants.