Bhutan, a Kingdom of the Gross National Happiness, is located in the eastern Himalayas, between China (Tibet) in the north and Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Sikkim on the east, south and west respectively. Bhutan is a small mountainous country approximately 300km long and 150km wide with an area of 38,394 square kilometers. The Altitude ranges from 160meters in the southern foothills to 7541 meters high in the northern high mountains. Bhutan has a population of 757, 305 as of 2015.
While early archaeological discoveries suggest that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 B.C, there was no clear recorded history prior to 8th century. One can only assume through hearsay-tales that the country was divided into parts ruled by numerous clans, chiefs and noble families in different valleys throughout Bhutan. The country was known as the Lhojong Menjong (Southern Land of Medicinal Herbs).
Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava, believed to be the “Second Buddha”, with the ability to represent in eight manifestations or forms was to have visited Bhutan in the 8th century. Bhutan witnessed flourishing art and architecture during this century. It was believed that Padmasambhava subdued evils, promoted Buddhism and unified the country through his teachings. The sacred sites established by Padmasambhava including Kurjey lhakhang in Bumthang and Takshang (Tiger’s nest) in Paro, continue to be places of pilgrimage in the country.
Opened for tourism in 1974, after coronation of 4th King His Majesty Jigmi Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan is one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world having being ranked the second top travel destinations in the world by Wanderlust, an internationally recognized travel magazine based in the United Kingdom. The country amidst luring modern developments, still retains its olden charm and travelers experience the glory of the ancient times as embodied in monastic fortresses, ancient temples, folktales, festivals, fluttering prayer flags over the hills of the villages and, perhaps most amazing of all, warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people. Each moment is filled with new discovery, warmth and remarkable experience.