BHUTAN

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BHUTAN

Bhutan  is a delightful country that offers travellers a chance to experience a pristine and unspoilt holiday destination.The lack of billboard advertising, takeaway food chains, neon lights, traffic lights are but a few of the things that makes Bhutan so refreshing. The scenery is glorious and the locals love and life living life according to their Buddhist beliefs and traditions.

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Culture

VIP-Blog-Bhutan-02 Bhutan is a delightful country that offers travellers a chance to experience a pristine and unspoilt holiday destination. The lack of billboard advertising, takeaway food chains, neon lights, traffic lights are but a few of the things that makes Bhutan so refreshing. The scenery is glorious and the locals love and life living life according to their Buddhist beliefs and traditions.

Bhutan is one of the few places left in the world that has its unique cultural heritage intact. Its heritage has stayed so strong due to its isolation from the rest of the world till the mid-20th century. The country has a large emphasis on preserving its independence and cultural heritage. Bhutanese tradition is soaked deep in its Buddhist heritage. Bhutan’s isolation has provided another unforeseen advantage, the sprawling nature. Due to its untouched environment and preserved heritage, Bhutan is referred to as The Last Shangri-La. The diversity offered by Bhutan’s culture is abundant and highlighted with its wide variety of religious festivals sprawled in color and grandeur that are celebrated around the country. Tshechu is the most widely known festival though each village in Bhutan has their own unique festival. When the Tshechu begins at the local temples and monasteries, the villages and the general population dress in their finest clothes. The important events in the life of the second Buddha are marked by the Tshechus. Songs and dances in addition to various mask dances are performed for three days.

Art

 

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Bhutanese art is particularly rich in bronzes of different kinds that are collectively known by the name Kham-so. The wall paintings and sculptures that can be seen across the country are based on the primary timeless ideals of Buddhist art forms. The sculptures are profusely decorated with embroidered garments and glittering ornaments. Bhutan’s arts and crafts embody the spirit and identity of the Himalayan kingdom, which is defined as the art of Zorig Chosum. The art of Zorig Chosum means “thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan”. Some of the thirteen crafts of Bhutan are carpentry, painting, paper making, blacksmithing, weaving, and sculpting. The premier institution of traditional arts and crafts is The Institute of Zorig Chosum in Thimphu. It was set up by the Government of Bhutan, its sole objective being the preservation of the rich culture and tradition of Bhutan. It also aims at training students in all traditional art forms. Heritage Having dependably been politically autonomous, a rich and specific culture created in the nation over the ages. Perhaps the most important single factor in the moulding of Bhutanese character and thought has been the teaching of Lord Buddha, whose eternal truths were first brought into the country from Tibet over the high, snow-bound mountain Passes by the great Indian saint, Guru Padsambhava. In the Buddhist viewpoint, culture, convention and convictions and the earth are alterable marvels that are joined firmly in the web of life. As a Buddhist rationalist says, “Culture lies not in articles or landmarks but rather in the brain and empathy towards every aware being”. Bhutan’s novel social and customary qualities are the basic exemplification of the country’s character. For a little nation situated between two most populated nations of the world, India and China, the safeguarding and advancement of its unmistakable social character is viewed as a vital means for its survival as a free and sovereign Kingdom. It was this character has ensured and supported Bhutan and furthermore gave the establishment to its noteworthy approaches.

Scenic Beauty

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Paro Taktsang

Paro Taktsang aka Tiger’s Nest is a Himalayan temple complex situated in the upper Paro valley, it is basically a holy site for the Buddhists as it is believed that Guru Padmasambhava meditated at the caves here for three years. The complex comprises of 30 temples and several shrines to worship, also many locations to grasp the spectacular views of this alpine region.

Haa Valley

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Haa valley is one stop destination in Bhutan where you can start your trek by visiting Taktsang Monastery further exploring the environmentally protected Haa valley. Other hotspots in Haa are Black, White and Haa Gonpa temples, and nearby special chorten or stupa with an imprint of Guru Padmasambhava’s body and hat which can’t be missed. Make sure to take a permit from Thimphu to visit the Haa valley.

Phuentsholing

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Phuentsholing, another must visit place in Bhutan, is a small town with clean environment. The main vacation destinations of Phuentsholing are Amo Chuu, the Crocodile Breeding Center, Chukha Hydrothermal Project, the gate at the outskirt (called Bhutan Gate) and Karbandi Monastery. The excellence of Phuentsholing will dazzle you. It is an impeccable place to visit for those individuals who cherish nature and want to stay in isolation.

Places to visit

Kurjey Lhakhang Monastery

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A milestone location in the history of The Kingdom of Bhutan, Bhutan’s first three kings are buried here. A visit to the Kurjey Lhakhang Monastery is essential for those who want to gain perspective of the evolution of Buddhism in Bhutan. Guru Rimpoche is said to have meditated here and blessed the place.

 

The Druk Wangyal Chortens and Temple at Dochula Pass

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A short drive from Thimphu and a climb of 3,100 metres takes you to one of the most beautiful places in The Kingdom. The view of the majestic Himalayas is one that is going to stay with you for a long time. While here, visit the war memorial, the Druk Wangyal Chortens or stupas and the Druk Wangyal Temple. Travel to Dochula Pass to witness its countless prayer flags sending messages into the winds. An experience that will leave you speechless.

 

Phobjikha Valley

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Home to a beautiful wildlife reserve, Phobjikha Valley is a glacial valley on the slopes of the Black Mountains. Famous for the huge flocks of globally threatened black-necked cranes that migrate here in the winter months, Phobjikha Valley is an animal watcher’s dream with 13 other globally threatened species found here as well.

Punakha

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Located along the river valley of Pho and Mo Chu, Punakha is visited by the tourists to check out the Dzong architecture of Pungthang Dewachen Gi Phodrang which is considered to be the most beautiful Dzong of Bhutan. At the point when in Punakha bear in mind to visit the delightful Rishta town where houses are pounded mud with stone establishments making them look extremely alluring encompassed by the rice fields.

Food

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Bhutanese cuisine is distinct for its spiciness. Nearly every dish contains chilies and are so important that most Bhutanese people wouldn’t enjoy their meal without the spicy flavour. The main body of most Bhutanese meals is rice. It is accompanied by one to two side dished consisting vegetables and meat.
Ema Datshi is the national dish of Bhutan. It’s a spicy mix of chillies and the delicious local cheese known as Datshi. This dish can be found throughout the country. Momos are also a popular dish in Bhutan and are usually stuffed with beef, pork or cabbages with cheese. There’s Phaksha Paa which is pork cooked with spicy red chillies which usually include radishes or spinach. It would be criminal to not mention Red Rice which is a staple with most dishes. It’s similar to brown rice with plenty of nutrition and is very filling.

Famous Restaurants

Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant

For a taste of authentic Bhutanese cuisine, book a table at the Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant. Opened to illuminate guests about Bhutan’s rich food culture, the restaurant sources the best seasonal, organic ingredients in the nation and prepares them up using the customary cooking techniques of old Bhutan. The bright, authentic setting supplements the food perfectly – visitors sit on cushions around a low table and eat from high quality wooden dishes, as Bhutanese custom dictates.
The broad menu, which brags 60 veg dishes and more than 100 meat dishes, features Bhutanese classics such as khuli, a flapjack produced using buckwheat, kekti kewa (spiced infant potatoes) and ja sha maroo, a dish of minced chicken. Washed down with a glass of ara, a local rice wine.

Galingkha

The restaurant at Hotel Galingkha sits in a prime area on Dondrub Lam overlooking the the main street’s busy southern traffic circle – the ideal place to see Thimphu’s white-gloved movement police in real life, famously reinstated after the city objected to the introduction of traffic lights. Situated on the ground floor, Galingkha eatery highlights indoor seating and an enchanting patio area with a Feng Shui waterfall and a conventional Bhutanese entryway of welcome with delightful wood-carving detail. The multi-food menu offers a variety of dishes from mainland to Bhutanese, Indian and Chinese.

Swiss Guest House

For a dose of modern Bhutanese history while you feast, try the Swiss Guest House, nestled on a hillside just outside the town of Jakar in the Bumthang Province. The original building, a little, customary farmhouse, was at one time the home of Karsumphe Angye, the more established sister of Gangsa Ugyen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan. Afterward, in the 1970s, the house was the headquarters for the nation’s Dairy and Forestry Project which employed various Swiss nationals, earning the place its name. The guest house is run by a Swiss-trained cheese maker and a range of Swiss dishes are served in traditional chalet-style surroundings. Try a tasty cheddar based dish like fondue or raclette, bratwurst or zuri gschnatzlets – diced veal with mushrooms and cream.

How to Reach Bhutan

Via air, If you are travelling from North India, you can consider reaching Delhi, Kanpur or Ranchi. Paro is the international airport of Bhutan, to get to and from the country. There is an availability of regular flights between Paro and Delhi and Kolkata.

Via road, one must drive to Jaigaon, the Indian town touching Indo-Bhutan Border. All the formalities to acquire permission, to enter Bhutan, will be carried out here at the immigration office. Every individual must acquire permission to enter Bhutan. You can take an Indian car in Bhutan, but you need a separate permit for the car or bike. When you get a permit for Bhutan, it will only cover Thimpu & Paro. In case you want to go to Bumthang or any other distant destinations, you need a separate permit.

Do’s and Don’ts in Bhutan

  • Taking pictures inside the alters of the dzongs (fortress), temples and monasteries is strictly prohibited
  • Take off your hats in front of the dzongs, temples and national flags
  • Visitors should be properly dressed with long sleeves shirts and pants to visit dzongs, temples, monasteries, schools and any government institutions
  • Always walk clockwise well crossing the dzongs, temples, monasteries, prayer flags or religious artifacts
  • Get permission before you take the pictures of the people and religious items
  • Do not give sweets, money, pencils, pens etc, to the children
  • Smoking in public places is not allowed in Bhutan
  • Buying of antiques from Bhutan is strictly monitored by the custom at the check points. Always buy goods with cash memo or original bills/invoices

When to Visit

Spring is the best time to visit Bhutan. Nature lovers who are keen on local flora should consider visiting Bhutan end of April or in May. Flowers would be in full bloom then.
Fall is another high and crowded season for Bhutan. Though Bhutan does not offer browning forest nor Maples, the mild weather in autumn makes it a perfect time to visit Bhutan. Thimphu Festival usually takes places at the end of September or early October.
To avoid the crowd and catch the Black-Necked Cranes, winter would be the time to go. To catch Himalayan blue sky without paying the additional tariff, consider visiting Bhutan in December.

 

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