Nestled between in the lush green mountains of the Himalayas, Bhutan is the last remaining Buddhist kingdom in the world. This tiny country has become quite a popular travel destination over the past few years. The spectacular scenic beauty along with unique cultures and traditions has made Bhutan one of thetop choices for travellers from all over the world.
Bhutan has a rich and glorious past that dates to as early as 2000 BC. Over the years, there have been many dynasties and rulers, till His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuk came to power in 1907 with the support of the people. Since then, the Wangchuk dynasty has been ruling the country. In 2008 Constitution was enacted in Bhutan and the country was transformed into a democracy.
GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS
Unlike every other country in the world, Bhutan measures its progress through “Gross National Happiness”. This theory was put forward by His Majesty the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchukas he believed that only procuring material wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness for the people. That is why the country measures its progress based on Gross National Happiness, as opposed to Gross Domestic Product.
This concept has now received international attention and appreciation. The United Nations has also implemented a resolution stating that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.”
WHAT, YOU SHOULD NOT MISS IN BHUAN
Although Bhutan is a small country, one of the smallest in the world, it boasts of spectacular natural beauty and architectural heritage. It has a long list of beautiful forts, Buddhist monasteries and cultural delights. For those who love adventure, Bhutan also offers a host of wonderful trekking trails. The panoramic valleys filled with rich flora and fauna along with the majestic Himalayas that surround the country, makes it a country worth exploring.
Here are some of the top tourist destinations in Bhutan that you can visit.
Perhaps the most iconic image of Bhutan is the Taktsang Monastery. Better known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, this is one of the most popular destinations for travellers to Bhutan. Perched precariously on the side of a steep cliff, the monastery is one of the most sacred places for the people of Bhutan.
This is where the revered guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhavafirst meditated. A visit to this spectacular monastery requires trekking, but there are also horses on hire for those who can’t trek the entire stretch.
The trek up to the Tiger’s Nest is uphill, but not very steep and can be done by most people when paced correctly. It is located at around twenty minutes’ drive from Paro.
This is the second largest dzong (fortress) of Bhutan. It is famed for its architectural beauty and brilliant structure. It is open on all days of the week between 8 am to 5 pm and is a true testament to the tradition and culture of Bhutan.
The beautiful and intricate paintings inside the fort depict beautiful stories from Bhutan’s history and folklore. The architecture of the fortress also draws visitors from all over the world. The dzong also houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
It is also home to the hallowedremains of the the tertön Pema Lingpa and NgawangNamgyal. The spectacular setting of the Punakha Dzong also adds to the overall beauty.
This spectacular fort was the site for the coronation of the fifth king of Bhutan in the year 2008. It exudes a regal splendour and is the site of the vibrant annual tsechufestivities. This dzong is located to the north of the capital city of Thimpu.
The splendid proportions of the dzong are sure to leave you enthralled. The towering whitewashed walls topped with red and gold roofs have been constructed using traditional Bhutanese fashion.
The TrashiChho Dzong houses the throne room, the secretariat, and the offices of the king. It also houses the ministries of finance and home affairs.
This beautiful pass is yet another popular destination among the visitors to Bhutan. The pass is decorated with 108 Chortens (Stupas). These were built to commemorate the fallen Bhutanese soldiers in the war against insurgents from India.
One can also visit the Druk WangyelLhakhng templewhen visiting the pass. The intricate paintings on the walls of the temple are something to remember forever. The beautiful stupas and temples make this one of the most visited destinations in Bhutan. One can also enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayan mountains. Take a glimpse of the sacred Chomolhari peak and the Gangkar Puensum peak as you enjoy the fresh mountain air.
If you are into trekking, then the trek up to the Chomolhari peak is definitely one you need to try. It is perhaps one of the most challenging treks of the country, but the rewards are spectacular to those who are willing to undertake the journey.
The trek starts from Paro and ends at an altitude of around 5000 meters. Once at the top, you can enjoy breath-taking views of the landscape below. You can also witness majestic glacial lakes, snowcapped mountains and enchanting panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
A trek up to the Chomolhari peak can take an average of seven to fifteen days. It is a challenging trek and definitely not for the uninitiated. However, the rewards at the end of the long and arduous journey are indeed blissful.
AN ADITION TO INDIA TOUR
Travellers to India can easily add Bhutan to their travel itinerary. You can choose to add it at the start or the end of your India tour, and enjoy the best of both countries in one visit. Bhutan is well connected by air with the major cities of India. Druk Air, which is the official airline of the country has regular flights to and from the major Indian airports.
Paro International Airport is the main international gateway of Bhutan. Druk Air operates a good number of flights, and depending on your dates and India itinerary, you can book the tickets online from the official website. Foreign nationals traveling to Bhutan from India are required to get separate visas for both countries. A map will let you have a better understanding fo the location:
A minimum of seven days’ stay is required to properly enjoy the beauty and cultural heritage of Bhutan. However, if you are pressed for time and want to club your visit with your existing India itinerary, then shorter tours can also be arranged by the travel experts at Indus Explorers. We will also be happy to help you with the process of obtaining your Bhutan visa once you have booked the tour.
Druk Air flights operate out of Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Gaya and Guwahati. Our team of travel experts can help you design an itinerary that seamlessly incorporates a visit to Bhutan into your India travel plans. Whether you want to end your tour with a Bhutan tour, or begin from Bhutan, or even include it in the middle of your itinerary, we can help you chalk out the best possible itinerary based on the availability and operational status of the flights.
The two neighbouring countries of Bhutan and India are so different in every aspect of life, that an experience of both in the same visit will be a truly memorable one. So, plan your travel to India and Bhutan today and explore the diversities in culture, traditions and heritage of the two beautiful nations.