The one minute summary on
This is it: one minute to the best info on Bhutan. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Bhutan, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
In 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land to British India. Under British influence, a monarchy was set up in 1907; three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs, and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs.
This role was assumed by independent India after 1947. Two years later, a formal Indo-Bhutanese accord returned to Bhutan the areas annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India’s responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. In March 2005, King Jigme Singye WANGCHUCK unveiled the government’s draft constitution – which introduced major democratic reforms – and pledged to hold a national referendum for its approval.
In December 2006, the King abdicated the throne in favor of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel WANGCHUCK, in order to give him experience as head of state before the democratic transition. In early 2007, India and Bhutan renegotiated their treaty, eliminating the clause that stated that Bhutan would be “guided by” India in conducting its foreign policy, although Thimphu continues to coordinate closely with New Delhi. Elections for seating the country’s first parliament were completed in March 2008; the king ratified the country’s first constitution in July 2008. Bhutan experienced a peaceful turnover of power following parliamentary elections in 2013, which routed the incumbent party. The disposition of some 30,000 Bhutanese refugees – housed in two UN refugee camps in Nepal – remains unresolved.
That was it. I promised one minute.
For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in Bhutan
- Does my current phone work in Bhutan ? Tips to cell phone usage in Bhutan
- Local food you should try in Bhutan and No miss drinks in Bhutan
Now, cheers to the most Bhutan aware person at the cocktail party.
What are the key history moments for Bhutan?
The first humans probably arrived sometime after the Ice Age, and little is known about Bhutan’s prehistory. Historical records began with the arrival of Buddhism in the 7th century, when Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) visited Bhutan and established monasteries. In 1865, Britain and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Sinchulu, under which Bhutan would receive an annual subsidy in exchange for ceding some border land. Under British influence, a monarchy was set up in 1907; three years later, a treaty was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs.
This role was assumed by independent India after 1947. Two years later, a formal Indo-Bhutanese accord returned the areas of Bhutan annexed by the British, formalized the annual subsidies the country received, and defined India’s responsibilities in defense and foreign relations. In December 2006, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck transferred power to his oldest son, the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, bestowing upon him the title of the fifth Druk Gyalpo. The official coronation took place in November 2008. The Fifth King is Boston and Oxford educated and is held in high esteem throughout the country.
The one minute summary for Bhutan geography
Best places to see in Bhutan
The majority of tourists do “cultural tours” where they visit important destinations. Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, and Jakar are popular destinations. Further afield, the unexplored region of Zhemgang (birders paradise, excellent wildlife viewing) and Eastern Bhutan have just been opened up to tourism. If you are an adventurist and want to explore the unexplored the east of Bhutan is the place for you. This unique and yet untouched part of the country offers the ultimate experience. Monasteries Taktsang Monastery, Paro Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), Paro. This is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world, and Guru Rinpoche visited here in the 8th century on his second visit to Bhutan. It is the most recognized and visited monument in Bhutan. It is believed that he arrived on the back of a winged tigress, hence the name, Tigers Nest. The temple is built on a 1,200 meter cliff and was built in 1692.
The hike up to the Tiger’s Nest can be very strenuous and you can rent a horse to bring up the mountain for about USD $10. The horse ride is a one-way trip (this is recommended if you are not very fit and may face altitude sickness) and you have to make your way down the mountain by foot. For independent travelers, taxis can be arranged to reach Taktsang Monastery. As on May, 2014, a reserved small car will cost you Nu 500 for a round trip and takes about 20 minutes one way. The car will drop you at the site and then will come to pick you up at a later fixed time. You can visit Kyichu Lhakhang Monastery on your way to Taktsang.
Hundreds of monasteries dot the landscape in some of the most pristine and remote areas. Kurje Lhakhang, Jakar. A temple built around a cave with a body print of Guru Rinpoche embedded in the wall. Guru Rinpoche practiced mation here on his first visit to Bhutan and as such it is the earliest Buddhist relic in the country. Dzongs/Fortresses Tashichho Dzong is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu in Bhutan, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. It has traditionally been the seat of theDruk Desi (or “Dharma Raja”), the head of Bhutan’s civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907, and summer capital of the country.
The main structure of the whitewashed building is two-storied with three-storied towers at each of the four corners topped by triple-tiered golden roofs. There is also a large central tower or utse. Built in 1216, Semtokha Dzong in the Thimphu Valley was the first dzong built in the country. The dzongs are ancient fortresses that now serve as the civil and monastic administration headquarters of each district. Apart from the architecture, which in itself makes a dzong worth visiting, they also hold many art treasures.
Dzongs dot the countryside and were built without the use of cement, nails or plans. Dzongs which you can visit are: Punakha Dzong Trongsa Dzong Jakar Dzong Lhuentse Dzong Simtokha Dzong Gasa Dzong Rinpung Dzong Gonggar Dzong Gyantse Dzong Shigatse Dzong Tashichho Dzong Kagyu-Dzong Lingzhi Yügyal Dzong Drukgyal Dzong Changchukha Dzong Tsechen Monastery and Dzong Shongar Dzong Singye Dzong Trekking Trekking is also extremely popular. The Druk path is the most commonly trekked from Paro, to the capital Thimphu. However, many other more impressive treks are available, see the complete list below.
The Jomolhari, and Laya Gasa trek are also very popular and the Snowman Trek is reported to be one of the toughest treks in the world, taking a approximately 30 days. The recommended season for this trek is mid-June to mid-October. Other treks include: Bumthang Cultural Trek Bumthang Owl Trek Chelela Trek Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek Dongla Trek Druk Path Trek Dur Hot Spring Trek Gangjula Trek Gangkar Puensum Gantey Trek Jomolhari Trek Laya Gasa Trek Lingmithang Zhemgang Trek Merak Sakteng Trek Nabji Korphu Community Based Trek Nubtsona Pata Trek Punakha Winter Trek Rigsum Goenpa Trek Royal Heritage Trek Sagala Trek Samtengang Trek Sinchula Trek Snowman Trek Wild East Rodungla Trek Scenery Bhutan pristine environment offers ecosystem which are rich and diverse, due to its location and great geographical and climatic variations, Bhutans high, rugged mountains and valleys boast spectacular biodiversity, earning it a name as one of the worlds ten most important biodiversity hotspots. Recognizing the importance of environment, conservation of its rich biodiversity is one of its development paradigms.
The government has decreed that 60% of its forest resources will be maintained for all time through a recently enacted law passed by government. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area is under forest cover and about 26% of the land area fall under protected areas comprising of four parks.
As a result, Bhutan offers a wonderful raw and unexploited environment that is generally very much appreciated by international travelers. 35% of Bhutan is made up of protected national parks. Namely, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (1,300 sq.km), TrumshingLa National Park (768 sq. km), Royal Manas National Park (9,938.54 sq. km), Jigme Dorji National Park (4,349 sq. km), Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (1,545 sq. km) and Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (650 sq. km). Festivals Festivals or Tshechu (tenth day) are another major draw card to Bhutan and are held every year in various temples monasteries and dzongs across the country. The Tshechu is mainly a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of lunar calendar corresponding to the birth day of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the month of Tshechu depends place to place and temple to temple.
Tshechus are large social gatherings where people from various villages come together to witness the religious mask dances which are based on incidents from as long as 8th century from the life of Guru Padmasambhava and to receive blessings from lamas. The event also consists of colorful Bhutanese dances and other entertainments. It is said that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to receive the blessings and wash away the sins.
Every mask dances performed during Tshechu has a meaning or a story behind. In monasteries the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages they are performed jointly by monks and village men. Among many Tshechus in the country most popular are Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals many tourists from across the world are attracted to this unique, colorful and exciting culture. Traditionally, the Paro and Thimphu have been the most popular but tourists are fast realizing that the smaller more rural festivals are much more intimate.
Other festivals which happen throughout the year are: Black Necked Crane Festival Chorten Kora Festival Gomphu Kora Festival Haa Summer Festival Jampa Lhakhang festival Kurjey Festival Lhuentse Festival Merak Tshechu Mongar Festival Nimalung Festival Nomad Festival Paro Tsechu Pema Gatshel Festival Punakha Festival Sakten Tshechu Takin Festival Thimphu Festival Trashigang Festival Trongsa Festival Ura yakchoe Wangdue Phodrang Festival