Southern Bhutan

Taktsang temples (Tiger’s Nest), built on the cliff s above the valley of Paro, is one of the highest holy Buddhist spots in the world. Anybody with a taste of Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism will find Bhutan spiritually delightful. The Dzong builder, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, unified the country under one rule in the 17th century. He codified a comprehensive system of laws and built dzongs that nowadays serves as religious and administrative centres. Pre-Buddhist faith in Bhutan was animism and nature worship. This animist tradition protected the uniqueness of Bhutan’s social, cultural and ecological tradition. In the next two centuries, the nation was once again fragmented into regional fiefdoms with intermittent civil wars. At the end of the 19th century, the Trongsa governor, Penlop Ugyen Wangchuk, who then controlled the central and eastern regions, overcame all his rivals and united the nation. In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuk was unanimously enthroned as the 1st King thereby establishing a hereditary monarchy system. The Fifth King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck now holds the rein. One of the most striking physical features of Bhutan is its architecture. The characteristic style and colour of every building and house in the kingdom is a distinct source of aesthetic pleasure. Patterns of rich colours adorn walls, beams, pillars and doors in traditional splendour. Art and paintings are also important aspects of Bhutanese culture and they bear testimony to the spiritual depth of Bhutanese life. The festivals are also great social and spiritual ceremonies that awe both Bhutanese and visitors. Nowhere in the Himalayas is the natural heritage more rich and varied than in Bhutan. Because of the deep traditional reverence which the Bhutanese have for nature, the kingdom is one of the leading countries in environmental conservation. Over 70% of Bhutan’s land area is still under forest cover. Many parts of the country have been declared wildlife reserves, and are the natural habitats of rare species of both flora and fauna. Tourism was opened in the year 1974, after the coronation of the Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Bhutan is perhaps the world’s most exclusive tourist destination. The country still retains all the charm of the old world, and travelers experience the full glory of this ancient land as embodied in the monastic fortresses, ancient temples, monasteries and chortens which dot the countryside, prayer flags fluttering above farmhouses and on the hillsides, lush forests, rushing glacial rivers, and – perhaps most important of all – the warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people. Each moment is special as one discovers a country which its people have chosen to preserve in all its magical purity.