The house of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan is a landlocked country that voluntarily chose not to walk with the fast paced world, in order to preserve its rich Himalayan heritage. Presently, more than half of its geographical chunk is covered by forests, that is a breathing carbon sink that eats up more carbon than what the entire population of Bhutan manages to emit.
An ideal country
Even if it may sound like it is a fictional place that’s too good to exist, Bhutan does offer free education & health assistance to all its citizens despite being an agriculturally sustained nation. Smoking is illegal here & sale of narcotics is completely banned in the entire kingdom. The royalty has even declared it to be compulsory that 70% of the kingdom is ought to be covered in greenery for the well-being of the future generations.
Undoubtedly the world’s most well preserved. Here, a king still exists & it's all about the good old days when originality still had its hold. The masses are extremely respectful towards the royalty & are simple, down to earth humans who were only about recently introduced with features like Cables & the Internet. They are known to celebrate the festival of Tshechu that are visually breathtaking & displays the extensive wealth their culture still holds in all its freshness.
Paro, the state of Bhutan is accessible by air from Indian cities like Kolkata, Siliguri, Delhi, Kanpur & Ranchi, Gaya, etc. Or board a bus from the Phuenstholing/Jaigaon area to the Bhutanese capital of Thimpu. It is a ride of 6 hours. Reserved vehicles from Siliguri are also an option. Entering Bhutan needs a permit generated from the Royal Bhutan Consulate Office in Kolkata.
PLACES TO VISIT
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest) :
Hugging a cliff 900m above the grounds of Paro, Tiger’s Nest tops the list of every traveler who sets his foot in Bhutan. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew down to this temple on a human-turned tigress to meditate in here for three years, three months, three days & three hours back in the 8th Century. Take a walk up the hill to the monastery or hire a horse to take you, the view from above is breathtaking.
Punakha Dzong :
The name directly translates to the meaning “a place of great bliss”. This scenic location was the seat of central administration under the hold of the Bhutan Government. The Dzong is a home to sacred relics from the southern Drukpa Lineage. This six-storeyed structure sits at the confluence of two rivers & offers a spectacular vision of the Himalayas. Its stark white walls stand strikingly against the green backdrop of the Bhutanese tropics & the azure sky.
The Weekend Market :
To view Bhutan & its people in absolute candidness, give the Weekend Market in Thimpu a visit. Get a grab at some of the ethnic Bhutanese locals like dates(soft cheese), cured pork & fish, banana pods & local edible greens. Vendors show up here with choicest handicrafts, incenses & souvenirs that are too tempting to resist.
Dochu La Pass :
25km from the capital, Dochu La Pass is one of the most important passes of Bhutan where 108 Chortens were built by the Queen Mother in honor of the Bhutanese soldiers. The pass doles out a panoramic view of the Himalayan vista, including Mt.Gangkhar Peunsum(7570m) which is the highest unclimbed mountain on Earth.
Black Necked Crane Information Centre :
An educational hub by the west side of the Phobjikha Valley, it's an educational/recreational center where tourists are graphically introduced to the culture, wildlife & topography of Bhutan via informative videos. The center houses crane watching equipment free for the tourists to use, along with souvenir shops & cozy cafes to chill.
Tshechu Festival in Paro & Thimpu :
It is said that every individual is supposed to witness the holy mask dances that narrate didactic stories during the Tshechu Festivals held in every Buddhist district. The festival is held on the tenth day of the month in the lunar calendar & witness the coming together of the community, all geared up in colorful costumes & accessories.
Changlimithang Archery Ground :
Archery is Bhutan’s national sport & in Changlimithang Ground, they hold competitions every weekend, which is usually followed by vivid victory dances & merry-makings which are worth your time.
Buddha Dordenma :
The colossal 51m golden statue of the Shakyamuni Gautama invites you to the valley of Thimpu. The sweeping statue is rumored to accommodate 1,00,000 8-inch & 25,000 12-inch Buddhas respectively upon full construction. After completion, it is destined to become of the tallest imitations of Buddha extant.
Kyichu Lhakhang :
Constructed around the 7th Century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo, it is said to have been built to pin down the left foot of a female demon who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism to Bhutan. It is 5km away from Paro & decorated with splendid murals & spinning wheels for pilgrims to spin while they mouth their prayers. Look out for the statue of Joro Jamba which is straight from the 7th Century.