A tiny abode in the lap of the Himalayan mountain ranges, studded with a number of big and small Buddhist monasteries – its Bhutan, the only country in the world that follows 'Vajrayana Buddhism'. Bhutan, also known as the “Land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon”, has an unmatched treasure of sensuous natural beauty, which is capable of inspiring a lovely thought, a beautiful poem or a nice painting. The country has preserved its traditional values from centuries until date and they have been successful in making an impact on the visitors to this country.
In terms of area, Bhutan is a very small country, located between India and Tibet (an autonomous part of China). The country is rightly called as “The Last Shangri-La” owing to its heavenly beauty and the co-operative nature of the civilians. Bhutan does not have very ancient records of its history. However, the history of the introduction and development of Vajrayana Buddhism, practiced only in Bhutan since the 7th century, is available. The great sage Padmasambhava, better known as Guru Rinpoche, whose images are seen everywhere in the country, introduced it.
The capital of Bhutan is Thimpu. It is the only capital city in the world which, strangely, has no traffic lights. Thimpu is a hub of Bhutanese traditions and has a number of places to visit, like the Memorial Chorten (an ancient site) and Trashi Chhoe Dzong (a fortress). Other sites worth visiting include the Changlimithang Stadium, the modern school of arts & crafts and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. While in Thimpu, don't forget to take a stroll through the weekend market for a nice shopping spree.
Paro, a very beautiful city in Bhutan, has the most adorable landscapes and wonderful locations with wooden houses and buildings, which look and feel like a dream. Paro houses the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest) located on a 1.2 km high cliff. People consider this place sacred since Guru Rinpoche visited it during his second trip to Bhutan and hence, every Bhutanese tries to climb the cliff to pay a visit to the temple at least once during his lifetime.
The center of all the religious activities in Bhutan is supposedly Jakar, the place where you find a temple named Kurje Lhakhang, which houses a cave with an imprint of Guru Rinpoche's body in the wall. It is the place where the great sagemeditated during his first visit to the country. Other cities that are popular among tourists are Trongsa, Mongar, Trashigang and Punakha – each one offering unique spectacular scenery and an inspiring Buddhist culture.
Bhutan has been gifted with a breathtaking beauty in its mountains, lakes, rivers & waterfalls and the exotic varieties of flora and fauna add to its glamour. The Black Mountain National Park, which is the home of black-necked cranes, an endangered species, is a tourist hotspot in Bhutan. The valley of Phobjika, adjacent to this area, has been made into a conservation area. The place in East Bhutan, which lies between Namning and Sengor, is a treat for a nature-lover. It has bundles of excitement packed within it, offering a number of huge waterfalls cascading downwards, mystical pine forests laden with thick blankets of snow and exotic groves of citrus plantations.
After an exciting round of visiting places, a tourist would definitely look for some good food. Bhutanese cuisine offers you hot, spicy & fiery dishes, 'Ema-Datsi' being the national dish which is made from cheese & red-hot peppers and usually served along with rice. Other delicacies include Momos (Made from cheese and vegetables), Khuli (pancakes made from buckwheat) and Puta (traditional noodles in curd). You can taste 'Ara' over here, a local alcoholic beverage, and also sip some tea with salt & butter called 'suja'.
Reaching Bhutan has been made easier for foreign visitors with the country's official carrier 'Druk Air', operational at the Paro international airport, the only airport with an international terminal in Bhutan. Staying in hotels could be a costly affair since the charges are $250 per person for a one night stay, except for those coming from India or for official guests and residents.
Visit Bhutan to rediscover buddhism in a new light. Enjoy yourself by cycling and trekking along the winding roads across the lonely mountauins. It's a guaranteed enjoyable experience for one and all.