Travel to Bhutan

Bhutan

Area : 38394 Sq. km.

Country:Bhutan
Official Language : Dzongkha
Location : Eastern Himalayas, between China (Tibet) to the North and India to the east, west and south.
Altitude : 180 meters to 7550 meters above sea level
National Bird : Raven
National Dress : Gho for Men and Kira for Women
National Tree : Cypress
National Flower : Blue Poppy
National Animal : Takin
National Emblem : The Royal Crest is contained in a circle, composed of a double thunderbolt placed above a lotus surmounted by jewel and framed by two dragons.
Population : 700000 people
Capital City : Thimphu
Religion : Mahayana Buddhism
Local Time : GMT + 6 Hours
National Sport : Archery
Bhutan National Flag :It is rectangle and diagonally divided into two parts with a wide white dragon across the division. The upper part is golden which symbolises the secular power of the King and the lower part is orange which is indicative of the Buddhism. the white colour of the Dragon is accociated with purity and the jewels which it holds in its claws represents wealth and perfection of the Bhutan.

National Day : 17th December. It is the day in which the first King of Bhutan, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first King and enthorned at the Punakha Dzong.

bhutan HistoryA very little is known about the early inhabitants in Bhutan. A few evidence states that the civilization in Bhutan existed as early as 2000 BC. Some Historians believe that the early inhabitants were fierce mountain tribes and the religion practiced was the shamanistic Bon religion, which emphasized worship of nature and the existence of good and evil spirits.

Buddhism was introduced in Bhutan, when the Tibetan King Srongtsen Gembo ordered the construction of the Kichhu Lhakhang in Paro and the Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang in the 7th Century. In the 8th Century, the Great Guru Padmasambhava came to Bumthang. The great Guru was invited by the King Sindhu Raja of Bumthang to cure him from the harm caused by evil spirits. The great Guru subdued the demons and converted the King to Buddhism. Thus, the Nyingmapa Buddhism started to spread in Bhutan with the construction of many Buddhist temples and monasteries around the country.

Following this the Indian influence played a temporary role in Bhutan. Then the turmoil in Tibet and wars between Tibet and Bhutan gave a good ground for Tibetan migrations, which brought new cultural and religious contributions in Bhutan.

Until the coming of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1616, there was no central government in Bhutan. Bhutan was divided into many small provinces and each province was ruled by Deb (King). Bumthang was the most prominent among these provinces. Many Tibetan Buddhist monks and members of joint Tibetan –Mongol forces had their place in Bumthang.

Bhutan’s political history was heavily influenced by different Buddhist sects. By the time many Buddhist subsects emerged in Tibet. The Gelugpa school became powerful in Tibet resulting in migration of many monks of other minor sects to Bhutan. The Kayupa school led by Phajo Drugom Zhipo continued to proselytize until the seventeenth century.

In 1616, the turmoil in Tibet forced Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, one of the head of Drukpa School in Tibet to flee to Bhutan. He became famous in Bhutan. He formed the a central government in Bhutan. He headed the government with Desi, Penlops and Dzongpons to assist him. He also built most of the Dzongs in Bhutan to protect the people and fight the wars with the Tibetans. After Zhabdrung, the Desi became powerless and rivalries developed among the penlops and the dzongpons and there was a civil conflict. The British intrusion, ended with a few wars and treaties. The Trongsa Penlop became the most powerful until the establishment of the Hereditary Monarchy in 1907.

Bhutan is a completely land locked country in the Himalayan Slopes. To the Bhutanese, Bhutan is known as Druk Yul, which means the land of the Thunder Dragon. Bhutan remained isolated and unknown to the outer world for many centuries. It came to be known to the outer world only a few decades ago and it is known as the Last Shangri-La. The word Bhutan is derived from the Sanskrit word Bhu-uttam which means “Highland”. Bhutan lies between the longitudes 88 ° 45` and 92° 10’ east and latitude 26°40` and 28°15` north. It has a land area of 38394 sq. km and is located in the eastern Himalayas, bordered by China in the north and India to the east, west and south.

Bhutan can be divided into three zones geographically. The zones are, the southern foothills, the central belt and the Northern Highlands.

The southern foothills include all the southern ranges from east to west. This area has dense vegetation. This includes mostly the tropical deciduous forest. The altitude varies up to 3000 ft above sea level. These area grow teak, sal, sisoo trees etc. and gets heavy rainfall in the monsoon season. The central belt consists of the valleys from east to west. This includes Paro, Haa, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar and Trashigang . The altitude varies from 3000 ft to 10000 ft above the sea level. This is a temperate zone and coniferous forest of birch, pine, rodhodendron, oak, etc. is found. The northern zone is the Himalayan mountain ranges including the Mountain Jumolhari which run between China and Bhutan. It has alpine vegetation comprising of dwarf rodhodendrons, moss, lichen and other flowering plants.

Many interesting and rare animals are found in the forests of Bhutan. In the northern Bhutan animals like wild sheep, wild goats, snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear, etc. are found. It is said that these area is also home to the snow man or Yeti. The present generation has not seen this. Perhaps this rare beast is becoming extinct now. Presently, the Bengal Tigers were spotted in the forest of the central belt. In the southern forest animals such as elephants, rhinos, deer, etc. including the golden langur are found. Bhutan also has a large species of birds including the black necked crane and the horn bill.

Bhutan is a green heaven even in this world of rapid urbanization. A paradise for nature lovers and a place of adventure for the adventurous, Bhutan stands among the top countries for its geography and nature.

Bhutan’s main pillar of economy is Agriculture. More than 80% of its population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Most of the farmers practice subsistence farming except for a few parts in the country. The government effort and the urbanization are now giving birth to more commercial farmers. The main agricultural exports are oranges, apples, potatoes, cardamoms, mushroom, asparagus, etc. The agriculture and livestock contributes about 40% to the Gross National Product.

Bhutan has a big forest cover of more than 70%. This contributes about 15 % to the GNP. This is because of the government’s policy of sustainable use of forest. Bhutan doesn’t use forests for exploitative ends; the forests are used as ecological wealth.

Bhutan has made a very good progress in the tourism industry with the opening of tourism in the year 1975, Thereby giving a boom to the progress and trade of arts and crafts. The tourist arrival is increasing every year with the increase in tourism business. This has today become one of the main contributors to the Revenue of Bhutan government. Bhutan targets for 100000 tourists by the year 2012.

Hydro-electricity is the biggest revenue generator for the government. Bhutan has a big potential of electricity. The Chhuka Hydro Power Plant, the first electricity generator in the country generates 336MW of electricity. The biggest Hydro Power till date is the Tala hydropower and this generates 1020 MW. More Projects are coming up in the country. Most of electricity produced is exported to India.

The Manufacturing sector comprises of products like calcium carbide, ferro alloys, wood products, cement, processed food, marble etc. This contributes around 14 % to the GDP.

Bhutan’s present per capita income is US $ 1321. Bhutan has planned to facilitate the growth of more industries in the coming future in a sustainable manner. Bhutan has also opened Foreign Direct Investment in the country.

Bhutan has a unique Art and Architecture. These arts and architecture derived inspiration from Buddhist doctrine and mythology. They are highly decorative and ornamental. From simple houses to massive Dzongs, Bhutanese Art and architecture always forms a major part in Bhutan.

Bhutan’s Art and craft is summarized into 13 groups and it is called Zorig Chusum, “The Thirteen arts and crafts”. These are:

-Lug zo (Casting)
-Shag zo (Wood Turning)
-Dho zo (Stonework)
-Par zo (Carving)
-Lha zo (Painting)
-Jim zo (Sculpting)
-Shing zo (Woodwork)
-Gar zo (Blacksmith)
-Troe zo (Ornament Making)
-Tsha zo (Bamboo Work)
-De zo (Paper Making)
-Tshem zo (Tailoring, embroidery and appliqué)
-Thag zo (Weaving)

The Dzongs are the most famous living monuments of the past. These dzongs have many buildings and temples both inside and outside to serve the dual purposes of religious and civil administrations. It is the main centre for all political, social and religious activities in the region. The Dzongs and the monastries in Bhutan contain most of the artistic treasures of the country in the form of wall paintings, statues, carvings, etc.

Bhutanese people are friendly and fun loving people. The people in Bhutan can be broadly categorized into three groups, the Ngalongs of the central and western Bhutan, the Sarchops in the east and the Lhotshampas in the south.

A few races in Bhutan are the Monpas, people of Mongolian race who inhabited the dense forests of the southern Himalayas. The other race is the Milo, who inhabited the western part. There are also few other such races like Doyas.

Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. Literally “Dzongkha” means the language spoken in the Dzongs. Originally , dzongkha was spoken by the people of Western Bhutan and it was an oral language till 1971. Till the time, the written language was the Chhokey, the language of religion. In 1971, Bhutanese scholars formed the Dzongkha language in written. English is also widely spoken among the younger generations and the educated older generations. Several other dialects are also spoken around the country. A few of such dialects are Bumthap kha, Kheng Kha, Sarchop Kha, etc.

The unavailability of records makes it difficult to ascertain the anthropological history of people of Bhutan.

The Dual form of government introduced by Zhagdrung Ngawang Namgyal ended with the establishment of the Hereditary Monarchy in the year 1907. Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first Hereditary Monarch of Bhutan in December 17, 1907. Ugyen Wangchuck was the son of the Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyal. He died in 1926 and ruled for 19 years as the King of Bhutan. He was a wise diplomat and an able administrator. During his reign, he introduced the system of western education and made several reforms in the system of government. He also signed a new treaty with the British in India in 1910. He was married to Ashi Tsendue Lhamo.

King Jigme Wangchuck was the second Hereditary King of Bhutan. He succeeded his father in the year 1926. He was born in 1905 and was the eldest son of King Ugyen Wangchuck. During his reign, Bhutan started to show itself to the outside world with the participation in the Asian Relations Conference in New Delhi in the year 1947. In the year 1947, the Treaty of perpetual peace and friendship between the government of Independent India and Bhutan was signed in Darjeeling. This treaty governs the modern day Indo-Bhutan relations.

The Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as the Father of Modern Bhutan was born in 1928. He was enthroned as The King of Bhutan in the year 1952 and ruled till 1972.He was a very far sighted Monarch and Bhutan emerged as a modern nation during his reign. He banned slavery and serfdom and distributed land to the landless. He established a high court and reformed the judicial system. He also started the National Assembly in 1953 and started the five year planned economic development in 1961. Bhutan joined the United Nations and many other international organizations. Most of the modern developments were started during his reign leading Bhutan to its today’s state.

His Majesty, the King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born to King Jigme Dorji wangchuck and Queen Ashi Kelzang Chhoden Wangchuck on 11th November 1955. He became the youngest Monarch on 23 July 1972 at a very young age of 17. The official coronation was held on June 02, 1974. His Majesty King Jime Singye Wangchuck married four sisters – Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck and Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck as queens in the year 1979. The official Royal wedding was held in 1988.

Under his reign Bhutan developed foreign relations with many more countries and joined many other international organizations. He decentralized the governing system and made many other reforms.On the National day of 2007, His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck was enthroned the fifth hereditary King of Bhutan and Bhutan had its first Poll Day in 2008. Bhutan is now a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy .

The fourth King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, coined the phrase Gross National Happiness (GNH) when he emphasized that progress should not only bring about material development but also social well being and happiness.

Today, Gross National Happiness is the yardstick for measuring development in the country and not Gross Domestic Product. Gross National Happiness as a development philosophy over the years has under gone massive alterations as researchers and scholars have worked to make it practical and measurable.