BHUTAN: HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH
My recent trip to Thimphu and Paro in Bhutan was a mesmerizing one. So I thought I must come up with a post to tell our readers about this experience. Before my trip to Bhutan, I had no idea about this place, except, that it is still ruled by a king, it’s airport is one of the most dangerous in the world and that it the ‘Happiest Place on Earth‘.
But when I got there, I realized that Bhutan is much more than just the happiest kingdom. Let’s have a look at my little discoveries about this place, during my short trip. By reading this post, you will definitely get to know why you should consider Bhutan as your next travel destination.You can check out our Bhutan City Guide or the awesome Paro Travel Guide for a more in-depth information.
Known for its spectacular landscape, tranquil monasteries and quiet fortresses (popularly known as Dzong) Bhutan is one of the most beautiful countries that quietly lies on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, amidst the sublime aesthetics of nature.
If you are someone who loves digging up into history, then, Bhutan is surely a place you will love to visit. Most of Bhutan’s history is shrouded in mystery. And not many are familiar with the actual history of the country.For many centuries, the outside world did not know that a place called Bhutan exists. The geographical location of this country might be one reason for this.
Bhutan finds its mention in the Tibetan Chronicles of the 18th century, but the name used for this mysterious land was a different one. From the Hidden Holy Land, The Southern Valley of Medicinal Herbs, and The Lotus Garden of the Gods Tibet had various names for Bhutan.But people living here since centuries called their land as the Druk Yul, which means “The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon.”
A NOTE ON BHUTAN HISTORY
The early Bhutanese history talks about Buddhist mythology and folklore where demons, gods, and mythical characters feature a lot along with supernatural powers.The history of Bhutan makes it a perfect account for your imagination to play along. The country’s ancient history is not as well recorded as its medieval and modern history is. It is agreed by most historians that Bhutan’s history started sometime around 747 A.D. when the revered religious leader Guru Padma Sambhava came from Tibet and introduced Buddhism to this land.
This is the reason why the Bhutanese tradition, culture, and lifestyle is highly influenced by the ideas of Buddhism. One of this also includes the belief in which they equate their king with the Gods. It is not an uncommon occurrence if you see the picture of the Bhutanese king placed next to the idol of the Gods in one of the temples.
Located between the two giant countries – China and India, Bhutan started practicing hereditary monarchy since the 20th century. During this entire period, Bhutan has pushed itself to isolation from the rest of the world.This fascinating land that is deeply rooted in traditional Buddhist values, is one of those few places on Earth that is still untouched by the harshness of industrialization. This makes the place even calmer and soothing for anyone who visits it in the pursuit of serenity and quietude.
The echo of the temple bell that rings slowly at a distance can only enhance this wonderful experience. But the tiny country is now slowly advancing moving towards an era where it is gracefully embracing global developments and modernization.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT BHUTAN
You must be wondering why did I say that Bhutan must be your next travel destination? Well, there are many reasons for it.
First of all, you are going to love its mesmerizing Himalayan landscape which is even more stupefying for someone who comes from a valley. The country is very picturesque, because of its magnificent position and also for the unusually large number of majestic fortresses (Dzong), monasteries and of course its unique architecture. The clouds covering the ancient monasteries that rest perilously on the mountain slopes, adds to the magnificent beauty.
You will also be stunned by the rich culture of Bhutan. A majority of the people living in this country follow the Buddhist religion. This is one reason why you will find a strong Buddhist influence in the unique culture and tradition of Bhutan. The Bhutanese take pride in their culture and pay much emphasis on preserving and promoting it on the global stage.
A distinctive feature of their culture is the Bhutanese traditional attire. It is mandatory for anyone working at an administrative office or someone who is visiting the Dzong to be in the traditional dress. You will also find men wearing scarves of different colors. The color of the scarves, however, is not meant to add a fashionable look to their custom. The color actually defines the position the person holds in the state.
So you might see men wearing a white scarf, which means they are the general public. A minister will always wear an orange scarf while a judge has one in green. The district administrators wear scarves in red with white stripes. The scarf of the king is yellow in color. Isn’t it fascinating to know how you can know a person’s position simply by decoding the color of his scarf?
The people of Bhutan are warm and friendly and you won’t find people who are not willing to help a tourist. Although one of the tiniest countries, Bhutan has a rich and diversified ethnic group. Each of these groups is separated by different topography.
The majority of the Bhutanese are divided into three main ethnic groups:
- Sharchops, people from the east – Tshanglas, the inhabitants of Trashigang, Mongar, Pemagatshel, and Samdrup Jongkhar is considered Bhutan’s earliest residents and their origins can be traced to the Tibeto-Burmese race.
- Ngalops, people from the west – these were the later settlers who migrated from Tibet bringing with them Vajrayana Buddhism as it is still practiced today.
- Lhotshampas, people from the south – Lhotshampas migrated into Bhutan from the south and settled in the southern plains in search of agricultural land and work in the early 20th century.
There are other other tribes too that constitute the entire Bhutanese community.