Bhutan has four distinct seasons. The southern plains close to Indian
borders are warmer and more tropical than higher central valleys.
The winter months are fiercely cold subsiding around the end of February.
Rhododendrons begin to bloom first in warmer east and by the height
of Spring, the whole kingdom is lush with spectacular flaming white,
pink and red of the Rhododendron blossom. The annual monsoon affects
south & central regions.
The name Bhutan is said to be derived from the ancient Indian term
Bhotana, which means the end of the land of the Bhots (the Sanskrit
name of Tibetans). It could have also been extended from the Sanskrit
word “Bhu’uttan” or high land. Ancient Tibetan writers
called their fertile neighbour Lho Mon or Lho Yul, paradise of the
South or the Land of the Monpas. The Bhutanese refer to their country
as Druk Yul or land of the Peaceful dragon. Druk meaning dragon and
extending from the predominant Drukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism.
Bhutan was not unified under a central authority
until the 17th Century. However, religious presence in the country
acted as a spiritual cohesion for many years. Guru Padmasambhava
made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on
a tigress’ back arriving at Taktsang Monastery, Tiger’s
Nest in the Paro valley. Guru Padmasambhava is recognized as the
father of the Nyingmapa religious school. Many of Bhutan’s
celebrated ancestors descend from the Nyingmapa School. Shabdrung
Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan Lama of the Drukpa school designed the
present systems of the intertwined religious and secular government.
He fought and won battles against the Tibetans in 1639 and so unified
the country and established himself as the country’s supreme
leader. Within five years of his death the whole country had come
under the control of the central government. At the end of 19th
century, the Penlop of Tongsa overcame the Penlop of Paro and was
afterwards recognized as the overall leader of Bhutan. Ugyen Wangchuck
was elected the first King of Bhutan in 1907 AD.
People & Religion
Bhutan’s indigenous population is the Drukpa. The three main
ethnic groups, the Sharchops, the Ngalops & the Lhotshampas
(of Nepalese origin) make up today’s Drukpa. The national
language is Dzongkha. The Buddhist faith has played & continues
to play a fundamental role in the cultural, ethical & sociological
development of Bhutan and its people. It permeates all strands of
secular life. Bringing with it a reverence for the land & its
well being. Annual Tsechus & Dromchoes are spiritual occasions
in each district. Throughout Bhutan, stupas & chortens line
in the roadside commemorating a holy place. Prayer flags are found
fluttering on long poles maintaining a constant communications with
the heavens. Bhutan retains the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism
as its official religion.
Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum. US Dollars & traveller cheques
are acceptable in large hotels & tourist shops. Indian currency
is accepted everywhere.
All visitors to Bhutan require visas. For the Bhutan Visa procedure,
we require the following information at least 30 days prior to the
clients’ arrival in Bhutan:
1) Name as in Passport. 2) Passport Number. 3) Nationality 4) Date
of issue & expiry of the passport. 5) Date of Birth. 6) Occupation.
Visa will be issued upon arrival in Kathmandu, Paro or Delhi airport.
Individual tourist visas for a period of two week costs US$ 20 and
an extension can be obtained at an additional US$ 20. Besides the
visa fee, Tourism Services fee of US$ 10 along with 3 photographs
will also be required.