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<< Indian Himalayas << About Himalayas >> << Travel Bhutan >>

Facts & Figures

Location Bhutan lies between 89 to 92 Degree East & 27 to 28 Degree North
Area 46,620 sq km
Population 6,00,000
Capital Thimphu
Altitudes 75,00 ft. (1547 m)
Languages Are Dzongka, English
Best Visiting Season March to May & October to December
Unit of Currency Ngultrum

Travel in Bhutan
Bhutan often reversed as the 'Land of the peaceful Dragon' is still regarded as one of the last "Shangri-La" in the Himalayan region because of its remoteness, it's spectacular mountain terrain, varied flora and fauna and it's unique ancient Buddhist monasteries. It is relatively unexplored pockets of Asia, which allows only limited number of discerning travelers to enter the country with special travel visa permits.

Hidden in the Eastern Himalaya between India and Tibet, this tiny kingdom with a population of less than one million occupies an area about the size of Switzerland. Its boundaries describe a lozenge shape and enclose magnificent mountains, thick forest, crystal-clear streams, imposing monasteries perched on high cliffs and inhabited by happy sturdy people who still seem to live in the 16th century. Most of the people are engaged in agriculture and one sees terraces of green fields, beautiful wooden houses with intricately decorated windows, gaily dressed men herding yaks, women tending to paddy, and red-robed monks wandering round the monasteries.

The lasting impression is one of religious tradition, monasteries, antiquities and national dress. Having never been colonized, the Bhutanese are fiercely independent, proud and know how to respect and save their culture and traditions. They do not mimic the West and imbibe only those ideas which they think are necessary and not contrary to their culture traditions.

History of Bhutan

Bhutan has never been colonized and although recorded history mentions the country in the 7th century, its independence was recognized even before that. In the 8th century, the great Tantrik mystic, Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche came to Bhutan from Swat, in present-day Pakistan, and spread the Buddhist faith. The next defining event in Bhutan's history was the arrival of Ngawang Namgyal, the "Shabdrung" (literally, at whose feet one submits) in 1616. The most recent watershed in Bhutan's history was the coming to power of Ugyen Wangchuk, the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan. Ugyen Wangchuk pacified the feuding Regional Governors who had plunged Bhutan into a state of almost perpetual civil war.

Having consolidated his authority across the entire country by 1885, he played the key mediator role between the British and the Chinese. Finally, on December 17, 1907, Ugyen Wangchuk was unanimously elected by all Regional Governors and the Central Monastic Body, at the Punakha Dzong and crowned "Druk Gyalpo" (literally, precious ruler of the dragon people). The present king, the fourth hereditary monarch, is Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuk, upon whose coronation in 1974 Bhutan opened its doors to tourists.

Climate of Bhutan

The monsoon starts in mid June and lasts untill end of September. The climate within the mountain varies greatly according to precipitations and wind conditions. In the Duars Plain and upto 1500m. The climate is sub-tropical with high humidity and heavy rain fall. The climate of mid- mountain belt varies, such that low- lying parts of Punakha, Mongar, Tashigang, and Lhuntse have cool winter and hot summer, where as the higher valleys of Ha, Paro, Thimpu, Tongsa and Bhumthang ranging from 3,000 - 4,000m endure a temperate climate with cold snowy winter and some - what cooler summers.

Geographical Features of Bhutan

Regionally the country can be divided into Eastern, Central and Western sectors.  Western is the most important region where the capital Thimphu, Paro airport, ancient forts and important monasteries are located.  It has five valleys: Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, and Wangdi Phodrang. Black mountain ridge, bisecting the country N-S and coming down from Puensum Peak (7239m) on the Tibet border, divides Western and Central Bhutan. The main road from Thimphu to the eastern region of Tashigang crosses this ridge by the Pele La (3350m). The national language of Bhutan is called Dzongpa, a name with an affinity to the description of a region of forts.

How to Reach Bhutan

You can access Bhutan by air or road. From the airport at Paro, you can take a flight on the National carrier, Druk Air, to Paro from Delhi or Kolkata. There are no domestic airlines or trains in Bhutan. However the main roads are well maintained. The main two lane highways run from west to east connecting all the major towns and villages. The mountainous terrain and winding roads restrict the average speed of vehicles to less than 40 km. hr. For visitors wishing to enter Bhutan by road, the only land entry point is though the southern boarder town of Phuentsholing, boardering West Bengal India.

Visas

Bhutan is the neighboring country of India and near the border of Sikkim Darjeeling, which is easily can be see on the Map of India.  Tourists need a visa; it should be applied at least 15 days in advance and a traveler will not be allowed on board the plane unless visa clearance has been received from Thimphu. A handling agent will arrange for visas and other such matters.

Customs

Strict regulations are in force forbidding tourist leaving with antiques and artifacts. It is safe to purchase handicrafts and thankas (religious painted scrolls) from the handicraft emporium. With any purchase from a shop, keep the fully documented receipt which may be required at the time of departure. Do not buy anything directly from villagers.

Money - Currency

Ngultrum, called Nu, is the Bhutanese unit of currency and has the same value as the Indian Rupee. US Dollars, Sterling and German Mark, etc. can be exchanged at the Bank of Bhutan in Thimphu or at main hotels.

Telecommunications

The phone system in Bhutan is being modernized and it is now possible to make a call to the major cities of Europe, India, Japan, etc. Calls from Thimphu are placed through an operator.  Bhutan also has limited fax facilities.
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Tour Packages Bhutan / Hotels in Bhutan

Bhutan Wonderland
   
Duration : 14 Days
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Culture of Bhutan
   
Duration :  08 Days
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Secret of Bhutan Darjeeling Sikkim Wonderland
   
Duration : 13 Nights / 14 Days
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