There are different types of travelers. There are those seeking parties, nightlife, and beaches. But there are also those looking for a sense of nature and spiritual growth. For those wanting the later, they could try travelling to Bhutan.
Bhutan offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas. This famous mountain range is known to be one of the hardest mountains to climb but the climb is worth it. Portions of the mountains are used as a retreat.
It is a perfect haven for those seeking spiritual growth. Aside from the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayas, the country has various festivities, temples, monasteries, and palaces.
Come let us explore a land bounded by other nations and yet stands out.
GEOGRAPHY and CLIMATE
Bhutan belongs to South Asia. It is surrounded by other countries such as Tibet on the north, India on the south, east and west and Nepal on the west. A part of the Himalayas is located on the within the borders of the country.
The whole country is generally mountainous. Peaks could rise up to 7000 meters; the highest is Gangkhar Puensum at a height of 7570 meters. In between the mountains are valleys with rivers following the contours of the mountains. The country’s geography makes it a nice habitat for animals and vegetation.
There are five seasons in Bhutan: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring.
The main mode of getting to Bhutan is by plane. There is only one international airport in the country, Paro Airport. There are also three domestic airports namely Yongphulla Airport in Trashigang, Bathpalathang Airport in Bumthang District, and Gelephu Airport in Sarpang District.
Travelling between cities and towns is by road. The roads are interconnected allowing one to reach their destination. It is also very common to see people walking and riding their bikes. There are no trains linking the cities to each other.
People residing in Bhutan are Called Bhutanese and they are divided into groups: Ngalops or the Western Bhutanese, Sarchops or Eastern Bhutanese, Lhotshampa or Southerners that make up 45% of the whole population.
Vajrayana Buddhism is the country’s state religion. Approximately 75 percent of the whole population are Buddhist. The second largest religion is Hinduism.
The citizens speak Bhutanese or Dzongkha. Although some could speak and understand English.
PLACES TO SEE
When we talk about Bhutan, we can easily associate it with mountain ranges, one is Jomolhari or Chomolhari which is part of the Himalayas. It could be found between the borders of Tibet, China and Bhutan.
It has a height of more than 2700 meters which had been climbed by a number of experienced mountaineers. Tibetan Buddhists consider the mountain sacred. On the slope facing Bhutan is the sacred Jomolhari Temple at a height of 4150 meters. These temple serves as a retreat for those looking for spiritual growth.
The topography of Bhutan consists of mountains with heights as high as 7000 meters high. The highest mountain is Gangkhar Puensum at a height of 7570 meters. The name of the mountain means “White Peak of the Three Spiritual Brothers.” It is said that no one had been able to reach the summit of the mountain. Climbing beyond 6000 meters is prohibited because of their spiritual beliefs.
Tucked on the slopes of the Himalayas is Paro Taktsang also known as Taktsang Palphug Monastery or Tiger’s Nest. This is a sacred Buddhist temple within the jurisdiction of Paro. The temple was built in 1692 against the steep slopes of the mountain at a height of 3120 meters.
It surrounds the Taktsand Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhaya prayed for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours during the 8th century. Within the complex are four main temples, residential shelters, eight caves (four of which serves as access to the temples), and images of Bodhisattvas.
Another Bhutanese monastery worth visiting is Kyichu Lhakhang, which is famously known as Kyerchu Temple or Lho Kyerchu. This Himalayan Buddhist temple, located in Paro has deep history and spiritual connection dating back to the 7th century.
Tashichhoedzong located at Thimpu, Bhutan is worth exploring. It is a two-storied whitewashed building. There are also four three-storied towers with triple-tired golden roofs on each corner of the building.
At the center is a large tower called utse. It was once used by the head of Bhutan’s civil government, the Dharma Raja as office in 1952. Currently is used as a throne room, and offices of the king, secretariat and ministries of home affairs and finance.
Approximately 7 kilometers to the north of Tashichhoedzong one could find Dechencholing Palace. The three-story palace is surrounded by willow trees, lawns and ponds. Architectural design was inspired by traditional Bhutanese style.
The palace was built in 1953 by the third King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk as royal residency. Currently the palace is used to host international delegates, luncheons and banquets. It is also the home to the king’s family expect the present king himself. The present king resides in Samteling Palace or Royal Cottage.
The most magnificent infrastructure in Bhutan is Punakha Dzong or Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong which means “the palace of great happiness or bliss.” The building was constructed in between the years 1937 to 1938 in Panukha District as an administrative center.
This is the second oldest and second largest fortress in Bhutan. Until the year 1955 it was the administrative center and seat of government in Bhutan. Currently there are sacred relics on display here.
Aside from mountains, temples, monasteries, and palaces, one should also visit the National Museum of Bhutan. This cultural museum was built in 1968 in Paro and is home to the best of Bhutanese art. There are at least 3000 Bhutanese art on display here, all of which is a reflection of Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.