BHUTAN

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ABOUT BHUTAN
The name ‘Bhutan’ appears to derive from the Sanskrit ‘Bhotant’ meaning ‘the end of Tibet’ or from ‘Bhu-uttan’ meaning ‘high land’. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, the Bhutanese themselves refer to their country as Druk Yul or the Land of the Thunder Dragon. ‘Druk’ meaning ‘Dragon’ and extending from the predominant Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The documented history of the Kingdom begins with 747 A.D. with Guru Padsambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche who made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on a tigress’s back. He arrived in Paro valley at Taktsang Lhakhang also known as Tiger’s Nest. Guru Rinpoche is not only recognized as the founder of the Nyingmapa religious school but also considered to be second Buddha. In the ensuing centuries, many great masters preached the faith resulting in full bloom of Buddhism by the middle ages. Although sectarian at first, the country was eventually unified under Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism by saint/administrator Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century. Ngawang Namgyal codified a comprehensive system of laws and built a chain of Dzongs which guarded each valley during unsettled times and now serving as the religious and administrative centre of the region.

During the next two centuries civil wars intermittently broke out and the regional Governors became increasingly more powerful. At the end of 19th century, Trongsa Governor overcame all his rivals and soon afterwards recognized as the overall leader of Bhutan. The Governor of Trongsa, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, was elected as the first King of Bhutan in 1907 by an assembly of representatives of the monastic community, civil servants and people. The country has now the system of democratic monarchy. The monarchy has thrived ever since and the present King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the first King’s great grandson, commands the overwhelming support of his people. After assuming the throne in 1974, the present king continued his father’s policy of pragmatic development by actively pursuing industrial progress, country wide education and medical care and at the same time ensuring country’s cultural and natural heritage intact.

The name ‘Bhutan’ appears to derive from the Sanskrit ‘Bhotant’ meaning ‘the end of Tibet’ or from ‘Bhu-uttan’ meaning ‘high land’. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, the Bhutanese themselves refer to their country as Druk Yul or the Land of the Thunder Dragon. ‘Druk’ meaning ‘Dragon’ and extending from the predominant Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The documented history of the Kingdom begins with 747 A.D. with Guru Padsambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche who made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on a tigress’s back. He arrived in Paro valley at Taktsang Lhakhang also known as Tiger’s Nest. Guru Rinpoche is not only recognized as the founder of the Nyingmapa religious school but also considered to be second Buddha. In the ensuing centuries, many great masters preached the faith resulting in full bloom of Buddhism by the middle ages. Although sectarian at first, the country was eventually unified under Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism by saint/administrator Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century. Ngawang Namgyal codified a comprehensive system of laws and built a chain of Dzongs which guarded each valley during unsettled times and now serving as the religious and administrative centre of the region.

During the next two centuries civil wars intermittently broke out and the regional Governors became increasingly more powerful. At the end of 19th century, Trongsa Governor overcame all his rivals and soon afterwards recognized as the overall leader of Bhutan. The Governor of Trongsa, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, was elected as the first King of Bhutan in 1907 by an assembly of representatives of the monastic community, civil servants and people. The country has now the system of democratic monarchy. The monarchy has thrived ever since and the present King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the first King’s great grandson, commands the overwhelming support of his people. After assuming the throne in 1974, the present king continued his father’s policy of pragmatic development by actively pursuing industrial progress, country wide education and medical care and at the same time ensuring country’s cultural and natural heritage intact.

General Information

Land area - 38,394 square kilometres

Forest area - 72.5%

Altitude - between 240 metres and 7541 metres above sea level

Inhabitants - 634,982

Language - official language “Dzongkha”, English widely spoken

Religion - Vajrayana stream of Mahayana Buddhism (Also known as Tantric Buddhism)

Currency - Ngultrum (equal to Indian Rupee)

Capital - Thimphu

National Tree - Cypress

National Bird - Raven

National Flower - Blue Poppy

National Sport - Archery

National Animal - Takin

Paro
The first thing you will notice as you disembark is the transparent purity of air and the absence of noise. The Paro Valley has kept its bucolic nature in spite of the airport and the existence of development projects. Fields, brown or green depending on the season, cover most of the valley floor, while hamlets and isolated farms dot the countryside. The houses of Paro Valley are considered to be among the most beautiful in the country. Paro is believed to be one of the first valleys to have received the imprint of Buddhism

tourist attraction - Paro

01. Kyichu Lhakhang [Lhakhang means Temple]
02. Taksang Monastery (Tiger's Nest)
03. Drugyel Dzong [Dzong means Fortress]
04. Dungtse Lhakhang
05. Ta Dzong [National Museum]
06. Paro Dzong


Thimphu
Thimphu lies in a wooded valley, sprawling up a hillside on the West Bank of the Thimphu Chhu [Chhu means River]. Thimphu is unlike any other world capital. Small and secluded the city is quiet and there are never the traffic jams familiar in other Asian Capitals. It is often said that Thimphu is the only world capital without traffic lights. Thimphu's main shopping street is a delight not so much for what you can buy there, but for the picturesqueness of the architecture and national costume. Beautiful weaves in wool, silk and cotton, basketwork, silver jewelry, thangkas and other traditional crafts of the Kingdom are available in various Handicraft Emporiums.

tourist attraction - thimphu

01. The Memorial Chorten [Chorten means Stupa]
02. Changlimithang [Battle Ground]
03. Weekly Market [Saturdays and Sundays]
04. Tashichoe Dzong [The biggest fortress in Bhutan]
05. National Library
06. School of Arts and Crafts
07. Royal Academy of Performing Arts
08. National Institute of Traditional Medicine
09. Zangto Pelri Lhakhang
10. Zoo
11. Changangkha Lhakhang
12. Drubthob Gompa [Nunnery]
13. Dechencholing Palace
14. Pangri Zampa Temple
15. Tango Gompa
16. Chari Gompa
17. Simthoka Dzong
18. Recommended day hikes in Thimphu
19. Tala Monastery
20. Phajoding Monastery
21. Thadra Monastery
22. Trashigang Nunnery


Punakha
Rinchen build a temple there which can still be seen today opposite to the great Dzong. Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel a key figure in the History of Bhutan built the Punakha Dzong and his body is preserved in one of the Dzongs temples, Machen Lhakhang. The Dzong was damaged six times by fire, once by floods and once by earthquake. The coronation of Ugyen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan, took place at Punakha Dzong on 17th December 1907.

tourist attraction Punakha

01. Punakha Dzong
02. Wandue Phodrang

Meaning "the palace where the four directions are gathered under the power of the Shabdrung”. However the popular story has it that the Shabdrung arrived at the river and happened to see a boy building a sand castle. He asked for the boy's name, which was Wangdue, and thereupon decided to name the Dzong Wangdue Phodrang or 'Wangdue's Palace.' Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of 02 rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view over both the north-south and east-west roads. The main road climbs the length of the spur and on the left, across the river, comes the first glimpse of the picturesque village of Rinchengang whose inhabitants are celebrated stonemasons. Phuntsoling

This small modern town in the south is the gateway of Bhutan for overland travelers. Like all other border towns, it is also a prelude. Phuntsholing is also a fascinating mixture of Bhutanese and Indian, a lively center for the mingling people, languages, customs and goods. On top of a low hill at nearby Kharbandi, a small Gompa situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers overlooks the town and surrounding plains.

The Amo Chu, commonly known as the Torsa river flows alongside this town and it is favorite spot for fisherman and the picnickers. From Phuntsholing, the road winds north over the southern foothills, through lush forested valleys and around the rugged north-south ridges of the inner Himalayas to the central valleys of Thimphu and Paro. It is a scenic journey; forests festooned with orchids cover the mountains on the other side and exciting hairpin curves greet travelers with colorful sculptures of Tashi Tagye (The eight auspicious signs of Buddhism).

Trongsa
Trongsa means 'The New Village' and the founding of Trongsa first dates from the 16th century which is indeed relatively recent for Bhutan. It was the Drukpa lama, Ngagi Wangchuk (1517-54), the great grandfather of Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel, who founded the first temple at Trongsa in 1543. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular, and for miles on the end the Dzong seems to tease you so that you wonder if you will ever reach Trongsa. The view extends for many kilometers and in the former times, nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen.

tourist attraction - Trongsa

01. Trongsa Dzong
02. Chendebji Chorten [Stupa]
03. Ta Dzong


Bumthang
The Bumthang region encompasses four major valleys: Choskhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. The Dzongs and the most important temples are in the large Choskhor valley, commonly referred to as Bumthang valley. There are two versions of the origin of the name Bumthang. The valley is supposed to be shaped like a Gompa, a vessel that contains holy water, and Thang meaning flat place. The religious connotation of the name aptly applies to the sacred character of the region. It would be difficult to find so many important temples and monasteries in such a small area anywhere else in Bhutan.

tourist attraction - Bhumthang

01. Jakar Dzong [Castle of the White Bird]
02. Wangdichholing Palace
03. Lamey Gompa
04. Kurje Lhakhang [Ku means "body", Je means "imprint"]
05.Tamshing Lhakhang [Temple of Good Message]
06. Kencho Sum Lhakhang [known for its broken bell]
07. Member Tsho
08. Peling Sermon Chorten [Stupa]


Mongar
The Mongar district is the northern portion of the ancient region of Kheng. Mongar is the district headquarters and hardly more than a stopping place surrounded by fields of maize. It is also the first town built in a mountain side instead of in a valley, a characteristic of eastern Bhutan where the valleys are usually little more than riverbeds and mountain slopes which rise abruptly from the rivers, flatten out as they approach their summits. One would never imagine that the upper parts of the mountains are so densely populated.

Shongar Dzong, Mongar's original Dzong, is in ruins and the new dzong in Mongar town is not as architecturally spectacular as others in the region. Dramtse Goemba, in the eastern part of the district, is an important Nyingmapa Monastery, but it is difficult to get there.


tourist attraction Mongar

01. Dramtse Gompa
02. Mongar Dzong


Lhuentse
Lhuentse is an isolated district although there are many sizeable villages in the hill throughout the region. It is very rural and there are fewer than five vehicles, including an ambulance, and not a single petrol station, in the whole district.

Formerly known as Kurtoe, the region is the ancestral home of Bhutan's Royal Family. Though geographically in the east, it was culturally identified with central Bhutan, and the route over the Rodung-la was a major trade route until the road to Mongar was completed. To see and appreciate Lhuentse properly, with its many small villages and ancient temples, you should really explore on foot.


Trashigang
Trashigang is one of the most densely populated districts in Bhutan. After Thimphu, Trashigang is the biggest urban center in mountainous Bhutan. It is the heart of eastern Bhutan and was once the center of important trade with Tibet. There are several gompas and villages that make a visit worthwhile, but it is a remote region and requires a lot of driving to reach.

Places To Visit in Trashigang

01. Zangtho Pelri Kanglung Lhakhang
02. Khaling Lhakhang
03. Radhi Lhakhang
04. Trashigang Dzong
05. Tashiyangtse Dzong
06. Gom Kora
07. Chorten Kora


Samdrup Zonkhar
The small frontier town is situated at the precise point where the mountains meet the plains. There is almost nothing of interest to the traveler in south-eastern Bhutan. It is the headquarters of a district boasting a brand new Dzong, although it is basically a town of small shopkeepers who serve all of eastern Bhutan as far as Mongar and Lhuntshi. The tropical heat gives a languid air which is accentuated by a lack of busy traffic.

 
 

 

Getting to Bhutan

By Air
Druk Air, the National Air Carrier of the Kingdom of Bhutan, operates flights (Airbus A319 and ATR 42-500) from Paro,the only Airport in Bhutan,to Delhi, Kolkatta, Bagdogra, Guwahati and Kathmandu. Buddha Airlines is the only other airline plying weekly flights between Kathmandu and Paro.

By Rail
NJP (New Jalpaiguri) is the nearest major railway station in the Indian State of West Bengal. The other smaller stations are Alipurduar, New Cooch Vihar and Hasimara thgough we recommend NJP as the convenient station for pick up/drop facilities and 04 hours drive to the nearest Bhutan border town of Phuentsholing.

 
 

 


Best Time To Travel
 
Bhutan has four distinct season, spring, monsoon, autumn and winter. Spring and autumn is the best time to visit Bhutan i.e. end of Febraury till end of March and September to November. If you love flowers, you will get plenty of them in May, June and July. November, December, January and February will be blessed with breath taking mountain views, sunny days and the morning/evening chills.
 
 

 

Tour
Tour CodeNights/DaysPickup - DropPlaces
BHT 0013 Nights /4 DaysParo Airport Pickup & Paro Airport Drop1 Nt Thimphu, 2 Nt Paro
BHT 0025 Nights/6 Days Paro Airport Pickup & Paro Airport Drop 2 Nt Thimphu, 1Nt Punakha, 2 Nt Paro
BHT 0036 Nights/7 DaysPhuentsholing Airport Pickup & Paro Airport Drop 1 Nt Phuentsholing, 2 Nt Thimphu, 1 Nt Punakha, 2 Nt Paro
BHT 004 7 Nights/8 DaysPhuentsholing Airport Pickup & Phuentsholing Airport Drop 1 Nt Phuentsholing, 2 Nt Thimphu, 1 Nt Punakha, 2 Nt Paro, 1 Nt Phuentsholing
BHT 0059 Nights/10 DaysParo Airport Pickup & Paro Airport Drop 2 Nt Thimphu, 1 Nt Punakha, 1 Nt Paro, 2 Nt Bumthang, 1 Nt Punakha, 2 Nt Paro


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