Bhutan Travel Guide

Bhutan_SS56638915__Hung Chung Chih

The small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, wedged between the vast territories of Tibet to the north and India to the south, straddles an important continental divide, where the Buddhist culture of the temperate highlands encounters the predominantly Hindu and Nepalese culture of the subtropical Duars – the low-lying canyons through which south-flowing tributaries of the Brahmaputra emerge on to the Bengal and Assamese plains. Acutely aware of the linguistic, ethnic and social problems that this culture clash has engendered in neighbouring Sikkim and in distant Ladakh, the successive kings and royal government of Bhutan have sought to maintain national unity by preserving their unique cultural heritage, which underpins sustainable economic development, and has as its objective ‘gross national happiness’. Bhutan’s success in accepting modernization while preserving the best of its traditions may hopefully serve as a model for Tibet’s own future development.

Bhutan is traditionally known as Drukyul, the ‘land of the Drukpa Kagyu school’, a reference to the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that has come to dominate Bhutanese spiritual life since the 17th century. However, since the word druk also means dragon, the country is often poetically known as the ‘land of the thunder dragon’ (an emblem portrayed on the national flag). The English name ‘Bhutan’ probably derives from the Sanskrit bhotanta, meaning ‘extremity of Tibet’; in Tibetan, the country is most frequently known as Lhomon, or Southern Mon – harking back to the seventh and eighth centuries when Bhutan was firmly entrenched within the orbit of Tibetan imperial power.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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