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Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is landlocked country in South East Asia at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the South, west and east by India. Bhutan is geo politically in South Asia and is the region’s second least populous nation after the Maldives. The Independence of Bhutan has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in its history. Situated on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia, The Bhutanese developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism. Bhutan is the only country to have adopted the Gross National Happiness as a growth indicator instead of the Gross Domestic Product.

History

Stone tools, weapons, elephants and remnants of large stone structures provide evidence that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 BC. However, Mystery surrounds Bhutan’s past when priceless historical documents were lost in fire and earthquakes. It is believed that In the 8th century Buddhist Guru Padmasambhava entered Bhutan on the back of a flying tigress to kill the evil spirits that hindered Buddhism. After defeating them he blessed them as guardians of the doctrine and introduced Tantric Buddhism. By the 10th century Bhutan’s political development was heavily influenced its religious history. The territory of Bhutan was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist Theocracy, headed by a spiritual leaders like Songstan Gampo, who built many temples, Ngawang Namgyal who built many fortresses or Dzongs and Ugyen Wanchuk, who ruled in the 19th century. Following a civil war in the 19th century, the country was re-united and established relations with the British empire. Bhutan fostered a strategic partnership with India during the rise of Chinese communism. In 2008 Bhutan transitioned from an absoluted monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held the first election to the National Assembly of Bhutan. The Government is a parliamentary democracy, the head of the State is the King of Bhutan known as the “Dragon King”. Bhutan’s landscape ranges from sub tropical plains in the south to the sub alpine Himalayan range in the north where some peaks exceed 23000 ft. In 2008 Bhutan made a transition from absolute monarchy to Constitutional monarchy when a general election was held. Due to its pristine environment and harmonious society the tiny kingdom of Bhutan is often refered to as “the Last Shangrila” Perched high up in the Himalayas it is the world’s last remaining Buddhist kingdom.

Tourism:

Tourism in Bhutan began in 1974, when it was opened to the world, to promote culture and traditions, thereby earn revenues. The most important centres for tourism are in Bhutan’s capital Thimpu, and the western city of Paro, near India. Taktshang, cliff side monastery called “The Tiger’s nest” overlooking the Paro valley is one of the major attractions of the country, The temple which is incredibly sacred to the Budhhists has been standing since the last 1000 years. Amidst amazing Himalayan landscape are the majestic fortress like Dzongs and monasteries with its unique architecture, which sets the stage for tsechus (dance festivals) attended by almost medieval looking audience. Adventurers will enjoy the high altitude trekking trails with its spectacular flora and fauna. Besides the stunning natural scenery, the enduring image of the country for most visitors is the strong sense of culture of tradtion that binds the kingdom and clearly distinguishes itself from its larger neighbours.

Bhutanese Cuisine:

Bhutanese cuisine primarily comprises of Red Rice (the only variety of rice that grows at high altitude), buckwheat and maize. The diet also includes Chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork and lamb. Soups and stews of meat, rice, ferns, lentils and dried vegetable spiced with chilli peppers and and cheese are a favourite during the cold season. The national dish known as Ema Datshi is a spicy dish made with large green chilli peppers in a cheesy sauce. Thukpa, a soup prepared with plenty of vegetables, noodles, cheese and spiced with chilli peppers and spices is a favourite amongst the locals and also savoured by the travellers.

Shopping :

Thimpu, Paro and Phuntsheoling are the major centres for shopping in Bhutan. Visitors can buy Woven Bags, stoles, Traditional jewellery, Handmade Kira (a gown type attire for females), Gho, Brassware, Yak bone jewellery, hand woven bamboo items, carpets, masks, thangkas, handmade paper and finely crafted metal products. Souvenirs manufactured locally that represent tradition, culture and history of Bhutan are a great attraction for shoppers – these are items like Wooden bowls and cups, cane and bamboo products, jackets, rugs, wall hangings, bags and wooden masks available in major handicrafts shops.

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