Bhutan the land of Thunder Dragon is tucked away in a quiet corner of time itself. In the deep hinterlands of the legendary Himalayas, lies on elusive land frothing with hearty people and stunning beauty . A hidden wonder that, until the 20th Century was virtually unknown to the outside world.
Hugging and soaring Himalayan mountains , with a few dots of lowlands scattered about, tiny Bhutan is girded by giant China and Goliath India- both physically and emotionally . It is somewhat of a miracle that Bhutan has maintained its independence. The fact that it was never colonized is a matter of fierce pride among its people. In the frantic land grab that was a byproduct of the power vacuum left by the dissolution of British India in 1947, most of the old Himalayan Kingdoms were swallowed up by an opportunistic India or a hungry China. Bhutan now stands alone as a the last Kingdom in the Himalayas
Bhutan blessed with rolling hills, high peaks, green valley and dense forest with different species of flora and fauna is comparable to Switzerland both in size and topography. Bhutan’s uniqueness in lifestyle is the result of virtual isolation from the rest of world. However, the new concept of Gross National Happiness ensures every citizen is happy. This concept is gaining popularity in the world and Bhutan is known as the country of Gross National Happiness. It is on the path of modernization and globalization without compromising unique culture, traditions and infrastructures that Bhutanese people hold on. Its people, culture and religious festivals are testimony to a rich way of life which has changed very little for over 1000 years. Though Bhutan chooses to be part of global village and known to rest of the world, it stills remains to be a hidden paradise.
Alluring nest on the mountain’s edge
Visit to Taktsang ( Tiger’s Nest) Monastery , a must see for anyone travelling to Bhutan. This monastery is considered to be one of the holiest sites in the country, as it was built to commemorate Guru Rinpoche’s arrival to the site of the monastery on the back of a tigress. He is legendary founder of an important Buddhist sect. Bhutanese are deeply religious, their distinct brand of Buddhism has been deeply permeated in society as was Catholicism among the Romans. The Tiger’s Nest is located in a remote recess on the very edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 metres ( around 3,000 feet ) to a valley far below. This sounds fantastic , but the hard part is getting there.
A dzong and a dream
A words about Dzongs. These unique buildings are the perfect manifestation of Bhutanese customs and way of life. Part office, part monastery , part temple and part fortress , the dzong neatly packages all these together to reflect the close symbiotic relationship between state and religion. In an ironic demonstration of this ‘oneness’ at the imposing Rinpung Dzong .
Echoes of thunder in the distance
As evidenced by Bhutan’s seemingly perpetual independence , it appears that even not the thunder dragon protects the land and its people . Yet, in the shadows of modernization and a global economy , the future of Bhutan seems uncertain . In Bhutan , time stands still yet somehow marches on. The kingdom may have been revealed , but the deepest secrets of the Thunder Dragon may yet lie hidden forever.
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