Sunday, 11 May 2014


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

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:
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

Dzongs like this were built in Bhutan and served as religious and administrative centers since the 17th century. This Dzong is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley. The source of the Mo chu river is in the northern hills of Lighsi and Laya in Bhutan, and in Tibet. The Po Chu River is fed by glaciers in the Lunana region of the Punakha valley. After the confluence of these two rivers, the main river is known as Puna Tsang chu or Sankosh and flows down through Wangdiphodrang, crosses the Bhutan–India border at Kalikhola and eventually meets the Brahmaputra river

The Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong (meaning The palace of great happiness or bliss) is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag in Punakha. Constructed in 1637–38,it is the second largest and oldest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures

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

The Sharchop are an Indo-Mongoloid people who migrated from Assam
or Burma during the past 1000 years. Van Driem (1993) indicates the Sharchop and
 closely related aboriginal Monpa (Menba) are descendants of the plurality ethnicity
of Bhutan and the principal pre-Tibetan (pre-Dzongkha) people of that country.The
Sharchop comprise most of the population of eastern Bhutan. Most Sharchop speak
 Tshangla, a Tibeto-Burman language.Because of their proximity to India, some speak
 Assamese or Hindi.

Monks and nuns are expected to fulfill a variety of roles in the essentially
 predominant  Buddhist community in Bhutan. They are expected to live an
austere life focused on the study of Buddhist doctrine, the practice of
 meditation, and the observance of good moral character.

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