The smallest country in the world is called Drukyul — the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Bhutan, landlocked between India and China, is showing the world — size does not matter. What matters is the 'matter' inside that 'size'. Here is an example: Bhutan's erudite and astute King declared the development philosophy of his nation to be measured under Gross National Happiness. And the rest of the world, which measures its development (and happiness) based on how much money they have in the treasury at the end of the year, went agog!
Here's another one: This land of rugged mountains and deep valleys has a rich and diverse ecosystem. And the government wishes to keep it that way. So the law of the land states that Bhutan shall maintain at least 60% of its forest cover at all time. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area of Bhutan is under forest cover and this small country boasts of 10 national parks.
Some stats before Sunjin Balakumaran takes you on a visual-trip through Bhutan
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Thailand – Bangkok; Nepal – Kathmandu; Singapore and India - Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya Dacca, Guwahati.
Drukair, the national airline, is the only airline to operate flights in and out of the country.
There are three land border crossings along the Indian border only - Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar.
All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator.
A list of tour companies operating in Bhutan is available here: http://www.tourism.gov.bt/
People from India, Bangaladesh and Maldives can obtain a visa on entry (no cost). All other international tourists need a visa to enter Bhutan.
CURRENCY: Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is also accepted as legal tender. However Indian notes in 500 and 1000 denominations are not acceptable.
Spring: Early March to mid-April Summer: Mid- April to late June (occassional showers). Heavy summer rains: Late June through late September.Autum: Late septemper to late November. Winter: Late November to March. Frost throughout the country, snowfall is common. The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds at the highest altitudes through high mountain passes, giving Bhutan its name - Drukyul, Land of the Thunder Dragon.
Sujin Balakumaran, a systems analyst from Abu Dhabi, who is also a passionate photographer with a wanderlust heart went travelling in Bhutan, and has captured a sliver of this beauteous land. Here goes:
Photos and captions: by Sujin Balakumaran
|Buddhist Monks at Thimphu Chorten|
|Prayer Wheels at Thimphu Chorten|
|Thimphu Chorten was built in 1974 to honour the 3rd King of Bhutan|
|Himalayan Valleys are Mystical and Colorful — enroute to Thimphu|
|Chukka, Bhutan - Phuntsholing — Thimphu Highway|
|Fruits are grown, plucked and sold locally by villagers. On the Phuntsholing-Thimphu Highway|
|Bhutanese Art - Masks of Oracle or Deity Faces and Animals. It is the tradition of Bhutanese people to offer a pinch of food, placed on the ground, to the deities and spirits before each meal|
|A young Bhutanese artist giving the final touches to his work of art — a colourful Buddha|