A treasure house of Buddhist Art: mountains, monasteries, trekking and magic.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a sovereign state landlocked in the Eastern Himalayas, with China to the north and India to the south as neightbors. With Thimphu as a capital and Phuntsholing as financial centre. Bhutan enjoyed strong cultural links with Tibet and was earier located on the Silk Road. In the early 20th century, Bhutan established relations with the British Empire, and signed a friendship treaty with newly independent India in 1949. To became in 2008 a constitutional monarchy and held its first general election. On December 9th, 2006 the throne passed to Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck after his father abdicated in his favour. He is then the fifth and reigning “Dragon King” of the Kingdom of Bhutan. 2008, the auspicious year that marked the 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan. Bhutan has diplomatic relations with 52 countries and the European Union, a close strategic partnership with India, and is member of the United Nations among others.
The economy of the country depends mainly on hydropower exports, but developed tourism since 1974 in an effort to raise revenue and to promote the country’s unique culture and traditions to the outside world. But meanwhile the level of tourist activity has been restricted due to the environmental impact on unspoiled landscape and culture. Higher quality tourism is then privileged. Today over 75 licensed tourist companies operate in the country, the travel program and the arrangements must be made through an officially approved tour operator, either directly or through an overseas agent. Visas to Bhutan are obtained through its embassies or consulates in one’s home country. The most important centres for tourism are the capital, and the western city of Paro near India’s border. Taktshang a cliff side monastery (called the “Tiger’s Nest”) is overlooking the Paro Valley and one of the country’s attractions. A temple which is incredibly sacred to Buddhists.
We heard for the first time of Bhutan in Western countries thanks to a civil servant from the British Indies, John Claude White, who made five trips over there. He took a lot of pictures there and even photographed the coronation of the first King of the Wangchuck dynasty in 1907, wrote a book in 1909, some extracts of which appeared in the National Geographic of April 1914. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the fifth”Dragon King” or Druk Gyalpo, the current reigning King of Bhutan married Mrs Jetsun Pema on October 13th, 2011. The youngest monarch in the world is been a happy father since last February. The Wangchuck dynasty will therefore continue, with the birth of a first child who is a son. And the King added: “Since he will guide our future, the prince will also be a son for all Bhutanese.”
Bhutan, a country between modernity, tradition and its sacred sides.