Glimpses of Bhutan

About Bhutan

A magical realm where modernity mingles reverently with history, where happiness is wealth, where the first rays of the rising sun and bright stars in the night sky tell the time of day better than a timepiece ever could high up in the mountains, on the plains and through the forests. Floating through the morning air, early birds trill a symphony as the khor lo prayer wheels in the temples spin, animals roam free in acres of protected greens. People go about their day, to the reprise of incantations, impeccably attired, unhurried and apparently unworried. To the traveler, Bhutan is a revelation.

A place of sublime beauty, serendipity, spirituality and peace.

Seasons & Weather

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An Oasis of Calm

Sheathed in silvern mountains, stretches of green fields and forests play hide and seek when you look down from the inside of an aircraft. Tales of the past, legends and a Buddhist legacy are preserved in dzongs, fortresses and monasteries that dot the land. Calm and beauty pervade the air in this land of Druk Yul, the Thunder Dragon. Bhutan is a dream come true.

Geography & Climate
To discover Bhutan on a map, trace the foothills of the Himalayas, look to the south of the People’s Republic of China and the north of India. In the far northern reaches of the land, mountain peaks are almost perpetually covered in snow. Central Bhutan has warm summers and cool, dry winters. Travel southwards and you’ll find that the climate becomes sub- tropical. The difference of altitude in the many parts of Bhutan makes it a country of changing climes.
Four seasons descend on Bhutan; the Indian summer monsoon from July to August; March, April and May ring in the spring season with showers through July and August; Autumn follows, with sunny days and chances of light snowfall between October to November. Winter sets in thereafter. Thunder, tempestuous gales and snowfall is not uncommon at higher altitudes. In fact, that is where Bhutan gets its name from.

Steeped in Customs & Traditions

Folks and folklore, stories of gods, dragons and demons exist in perfect harmony with modern mores. History mingled with the earth manifests in the intricate, elaborate rituals observed by its people, vanguards of a rich cultural heritage in a league of their own. They are affable and courteous to a fault.

People & Practices
Warrior and sages have peopled this land where you may still expect to find fierce mountain folk, tenacious farmers, skilled artisans, monks and nobles among ordinary individuals – all of them mild mannered and congenial. Even as they approach a modern way of life, a certain grace sets them apart. They consciously conduct themselves by the driglam namzha, a code of etiquette laid down years ago.

Bhutanese people are gentle and strong of character. Their pleasant disposition and sociable nature is a marked reflection of their cultural distinction.

Colored in Song Dance Art & Craft

Shaping its milieu and cultural identity to a great extent, the festivals of Bhutan are milestones etched in time, revered and celebrated with fervor. The arts that are practiced to the day have been handed down many generations and are in essence a befitting tribute to a resplendent past.

Traditions & Festivals
Celebrations in Bhutan are nothing short of spectacular.

The religious festivals are known as tsechus, which translate to mean ‘the tenth day’. These festivities are especially significant owing to their association with Guru Rinpoche, a historically prominent figure responsible for introducing Buddhist ideologies to the region.

Tsechus are grand occasions observed annually on the tenth day of a month according to the lunar calendar, coinciding with the birth of the Guru. Every calendar year one tsechu is observed at every temple and dzong in the country. Communities congregate to seek blessings, watch enthralling masked dances known as chams and participate in the rituals and the revelry. It is a widely held belief that sins can be atoned by witnessing the colorful masked dance at least once in a lifetime.

Exquisite Flavors of the Land

Fiery chilies or ema, that smolder, are doused with generous helpings of thick flavorful stewed cheese datshi. Bhutan can be the meat lover’s paradise as much as the vegan’s sanctuary. But of course, once can always settle for the Indian or continental fare. Like most other things in Bhutan, the purpose of food is to nourish the soul.

Foods & Flavors
Chilies for the chills for the thrills, if you like and cheese to please, that’s what you have for starters. These also happen to be the key ingredients of Bhutanese cuisine along with fresh grown herbs, lots of garlic, rice and a variety of meats and greens. Competing with the momos are hoentay, buckwheat dumplings from Haa valley, a bowl of puta is healthy competition for the less nutritious but more popular noodles, and kewa datshi – potato cooked in cheese is preferable over french fries.

As for beverages and libations, Bhutan proves to be a singular experience with salted tea for instance, made with mistletoe leaves and yak butter. If you feel a little more adventurous, try the intoxicating Ara, served with an egg and butter to make it wholesome.

Basking in the Glory of Nature

Wafting on gentle breeze are scents of Edelweiss, Daphne and Magnolia flowers. When fragrant Oak trees and pristine environs envelop you, draw a deep breath and take a minute to truly appreciate the beauty of Bhutan, one of the few countries in the world to enshrine environmental conservation in its constitution.

Nature & Environment Twice blessed, Bhutan boasts an ecosystem that is not only home to an enviable variety of plant and animal species but also to citizens who have pledged to protect the environment in times to come. The government is committed to propagating a sustainable way of life closer to nature. Killing animals or damaging the environment in any way is prohibited by law. It also stipulates that sixty percent of the land must always remain under forest cover. Environmental conservation is central to developmental plans for the future.

An estimated, eighty percent of the total land area is under forest cover. Exquisite flowers bloom here, snow leopards, tigers and elephants roam free through acres of protected areas and rare birds like the black neck cranes can be spotted in winter.

Last Mile to Mindfulness & Well being

Bhutan might well be the place to discover your own sanctum sanctorum where you can contemplate deeper meanings or higher callings amidst the echo of incantations and positive vibrations. A place for introspection, a time to align the cadence of your heart to the rhythm of the universe, a moment of healing, to revive your spirit under guidance from practitioners of the wisdom of the ages.

Spirituality & Religion By constitutionally accepting Buddhism as the official religion of the state and for long standing traditions being practiced by a majority of its populace, Bhutan is largely recognized world over as a Buddhist nation.

As a realm where traditional therapies lost on an industrial generation still exist, where the mind, body and soul can be revived to a state of harmony, and where a higher quotient of happiness or fulfillment can be attained, Bhutan is steadily revealing itself as country that subscribes more to the essence of all religion – spirituality.