The Magical Kingdom of Bhutan, Secret Country of Dragons
Bhutan is a kingdom in the Himalayas and seen by many as being one of the most diverse and mysterious of all. For hundreds of years, people have lived here according to Buddhist beliefs and the country has thrived in its isolation. It is a country full of contrasts, with fortified monasteries, lush forested valleys, art, sacred mountains and unique architecture that you will not see anywhere else on this plant.
The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu. Many capitals around the world are bustling cities, but Thimphu is an oasis of calm and serenity instead. It is a fantastic place to start any tour through Bhutan, including the trip organized by Insight Tours and Vacations.
Some Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Bhutan
If you have heard of Bhutan before, and few people have, it is still unlikely that you will be aware of the following few facts:
- It is the happiest country in all of Asia and the 8th happiest country in the world.
- Until recently, the country’s royal family strictly enforced local culture, including forcing people to wear the national dress only and banning tourism. Now that this ban has been lifted, many people still wear nothing but national dress.
- No television was allowed in Bhutan until 1999. It was then allowed by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who believed it would help his kingdom modernize.
- King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated to his son in 2008 after around 9 years of sudden true democracy. During this time, he also introduced a brand new constitution.
- The wellbeing of the nation is measured in “Gross National Happiness”, which is the greatest legacy of the former king.
- The people of Bhutan are united in their isolation, which was self-imposed out of fear of British colonialist invaders and the Tibetan armies.
- The Dzong Fortress, which can be visited to this day, was built to defend Bhutan against any invaders. It held strong since the 17th century, allowing the country to develop in peace and harmony.
- Bhutan’s foreign relations were taken over by Britain during the colonial era, although they were never able to colonize the kingdom. This power went to India in 1947 and, to this day, retains a norm of influence over the kingdom.
- Although almost all of Bhutan is Buddhist, there is also a Hindu minority. People of both religions are incredibly superstitious and almost every home is adorned with an erect phallus that protrudes from the lintels of the doors. It is believed that this will keep evil spirits at bay.
- Bhutan has a very interesting national sport, which basically consists of two teams standing at some distance from each other, firing arrows at one another in national custom. The team that is not firing the arrows waves their arms about, in the hopes of distracting the other side.
With such a rich and fascinating history, you are guaranteed to have the vacation of a lifetime if you ever visit Bhutan.