Bhutan is a country which is a surprise mix of traditional Buddhist culture and global developments. It is the last Himalayan kingdom with intense magic and mystery. The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means "Land of the Thunder Dragon".
The monks explain the historical relevance of the country by stories of flying tigers and demon tales. From the Gross National Happiness (GNP) to the enthusiastic crowds, Bhutan is a new world to experience! Bhutan is not only carbon neutral, it is carbon negative. The country is also blessed with exquisite collection of flora and fauna that makes a picture perfect postcard.
I had heard enough of Bhutan. It was time for me to pack my bags and explore this majestic country.
I reached Thimpu which is the capital of Bhutan and was surprised to see that there were no traffic lights and smoking was prohibited in the entire country.
I visited Kuensel Phodrang which is a massive structure of a sitting Shakyamuni Buddha. It is one of the largest idols of Buddha in the world. This Buddha is gold plated and made of bronze. This grand and glorious Buddha can be seen from any corner of the city. The view from the top of the park - Kuenselphodrang Park left me mesmerized and speechless.
Did you know that the national animal of Bhutan is the Takin. On my visit to Motithang Takin preserve I was confused when I saw this animal for the first time. I was constantly thinking – Is it a Goat or is it a Cow? Takin looked like a mixture of both to me. This endangered species across the world has a small population in the country.
Bhutanese people are found wearing colourful traditional dresses every day. Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono that is tied at the waist by a traditional belt known as Kera. The pouch which forms at the front traditionally was used for carrying food bowls and a small dagger. Today however it is more accustomed to carrying small articles such as wallets, mobile phones and Doma (beetle nut).
Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego with an inner layer known as a Wonju.
I wondered why my food plate just had a single colour, ‘Red’ ? Sounds too spicy, isn’t it? But not in Bhutan where the rice is red and chilies form the main dish instead as just a flavoring agent. The famous Red rice is a healthier option than the usual white rice. It has a nutty flavor. The most distinctive characteristic of the Bhutanese cuisine is the spiciness. Bhutanese do not enjoy their meal if it’s not spicy. Guess, that’s the reason why the people are so warm here.
With warm memories I then proceeded towards Paro. Paro houses many monasteries, ancient temples, National museum and the country’s only airport. The highly fertile land produces local red rice from its terraced cultivation.
Ta Dzong is a watch tower that was built to defend Rinoung Dzong during the 17th century inter valley wars. It has relics, art, religious paintings and a collection of Buddhist postage stamps. Tiger’s nest or the Taktshang Lhakhang is another famous monastery atop the Paro valley floor.
Bhutan offers unique architectural marvels like various tsechuas (dance forms), cuisines, textiles, handicrafts, trekking trails, archery competition; all under its umbrella. What more does a traveller need?
Bhutan is divided into three regions- Western, Central and Eastern. The Paro Dzongkhag valley in the Western zone boasts about the country’s cultural strength and historical heritage. Thimphu Dzongkhag is the capital of Bhutan. Thimphu offers local cuisines and great options to fill your shopping carts. The Punakha Dzongkhag is a beautiful connecting plain to the entire city. The Gangtey Gompa in the Phobjikha valley is a magical valley and features different migratory birds. The next time you feel alone and long for a friend, hit this valley for these colourful stocks. Join Bhutan on this fantastic journey into the Mystic Valley of the Guardian Spirit.