Bhutan Tour

Bhutan officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China. Bhutan is separated from the nearby country of Nepal to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim, and from Bangladesh to the south by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.

Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms until the early 17th century, when the area was unified by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who fled religious persecution in Tibet and cultivated a separate Bhutanese identity. In the early 20th century, Bhutan came into contact with the British Empire, after which Bhutan continued strong bilateral relations with India upon its independence. In 2006, Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey.

Bhutan’s landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of 691,141 is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism the second-largest religion. The capital and largest city is Thimphu. In 2007, Bhutan made the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, holding its first general election. Bhutan is a member of the United Nations and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); it hosted the sixteenth SAARC summit in April 2010. The total area of the country has been reported as 38,394 square kilometres (14,824 sq mi) since 2002 . The area had previously been reported as approximately 46,500 km2 (18,000 sq mi) in 1997.


PLACES OF INTEREST
Paro
If ever there was a place where nature and man conjured to create their dearest image, it must be the Paro Valley . To the north Mount Chomolhari (mountain of the Goddess) reigns in white glory and the glacier waters from its five sister peaks plunge torrentially through deep gorges finally converging to form the Paro River that nourishes the rice fields and fruit orchards of Paro valley.

Takshang Goenpa
Takshang, literally meaning Tiger's Nest, built around a cave in which Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambava ) meditated, clings seemingly impossible to a cliff of rock at 3,000 feet (800m.) above the valley floor. For local people it is a place of pilgrimage, but for a tourist, a hike to the view point opposite the monastery in exhausting, thrilling and mystical.

Thimphu
Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan lies at an elevation of 7,600 feet in a valley transversed by the Thimpu River . Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building houses the Throne Room of the King of Bhutan, the summer residence of the Central Monk Body and the National Assembly Hall. The city of Thimpu is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. Nevertheless, for Bhutan it is a fitting and lively place. The shops vie with each other, stocked with varieties of commodities ranging form cooking oil to fabrics. Old wooden houses stand side by side with newly constructed concrete buildings, all painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese architectural style.

Punakha
Blessed with a temperate climate and drained by the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers, the fertile valley of Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and even today, it is the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the Central Monk Body. In 1667, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built Punakha Dzong at the junction of Phochu and Mochu rivers to serve as both the religious and administrative center of Bhutan . Punakha Dzong houses many sacred temples including the Machen where the embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lies in state.

Wangdue Phodrang
Towards the south of Punakha valley lies the valley of Wangdue Phodrang and the confluence of Mochu and Tangchu rivers stands the impressive Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. The higher reaches of the valley provide rich pasture land for cattle. Phubjikha in Wangdue Phodrang is the winter retreat for the rare Black Necked cranes. The district is also known for its fine bamboo work including slate and stone carvings.

Trongsa
Midway between Ha in the far west and Trashigang in the far east stands the striking Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan's Royal Family. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country form this ancient seat. All four kings of Bhutan held post of Trongsa Penlop (honorary post of Governor) prior to being crowned the king. A massive structure with many levels that slopes down the contour of the hill on which it is set, the Trongsa Dzong was built in 1648 and later enlarged and decorated. Because of its highly strategic position on the only connecting route between the eastern and western sectors (the trail actually running through the dzong), the Trongsa Penlop was able to control the whole of the eastern region effectively for many centuries.

Bumthang
To the east of Tongsa lies the wide valley of Bumthang where the tales of Padmasambava dominate the holy places. The valley is home to the scared Jambey Lhakhang (monastery) and to the Kurjey Lhakhang where the bodily marks of Padmasambava remain to this day impressed on a solid rock face. Both the temples are believed to have been built in the 8th century by Sindhu Raja after Padmasambava had cured this ailing ruler and converted him to Buddhist faith. Along the highway between Bumthang and Mongar is the beautiful village of Ura . A visit to this village and the Ura monastery will give visitors an insight into the lifestyle of the people of Central Bhutan .