Bhutan: An Enchanted Kingdom
Bhutan or the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ may have shed centuries of self imposed isolation but it keeps reinventing itself as a unique nation with an identity of its own. Today, we are the world’s youngest democracy, gifted to the people by our beloved Fourth King himself. Our guiding development philosophy is Gross National Happiness.
Tradition, culture and the environment are zealously guarded and religion is a way of life. Bhutan ranks among the world’s top travel destinations but very few visitors make the journey. It has to do with the Kingdom’s ‘high value, low volume’ tourism policy, designed to preserve the nation’s rich cultural heritage.Those who visit might discover a land and a people set in a rare balance of modernity and tradition, beauty and harmony.
Bhutan in a nutshell
Area : 38,394 sq. km.
Population : 634,982
Capital : Thimphu
Local time : GMT+6
Religion : Mahayana Buddhism
National tree : Cypress (cupresses corneyana)
National flower : Blue poppy (mecanopsis grandis)
National animal : Takin (budorcas taxicolor)
National bird : Raven (corvus corax tibetanus)
National sport : Archery
National day : 17 December
National language : Dzongkha
The Royal Government of Bhutan since the inception of tourism in 1974, has adopted a very cautious approach to tourism growth and development. The Bhutanese tourism industry is based on sustainability. The Principle being – ‘Tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly; socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable’.
As per the Kingdom’s policy – all tours in the country are in the form of an ‘all inclusive package tour’. Independent travel is not permitted and tours need to be booked through a tour operator. The ‘all inclusive package tour’ includes – accommodation in tourist standard hotels and lodges; meals; transportation, guides and museum fees. There are no restrictions on the number of persons traveling to Bhutan.Even individual travelers are welcome.
International airport is located in Paro, western Bhutan. Bhutan’s National airline Drukair operates regular flights from New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Bagdora, Bodgaya (seasonal), Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok and Singapore. Domestic flights are available for Bumthang, Trashigang and Gelephu. They are operated by Tashi Air and Drukair.
You can enter Bhutan through 3 points – Phuentsholing and Gelephu in the South and Samdrup Jongkhar in the southeast. Bagdogra airport, in the state of West Bengal ( India ) is the nearest airport about five hours drive from Phuentsholing. Also Bagdogra ( and its main town Siliguri ) is a convenient point for visiting the West Bengal region of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the state of Sikkim.