About Bhutan (Druk)
Nestled in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan (also called as Druk – the Dragon Kingdom) is a small land locked country located between China and India and has successfully maintained its identity since long. Bhutan has been increasingly seen as tourist hotspots due to its rich spiritual and cultural heritage, supported by the development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
Further, Bhutan has an astounding biodiversity, and a dense forest cover of more than 70% with an extensive protected areas network, comprising more than 50% of the country. Infact Bhutan is also known as a carbon negative country.
Gross National Happiness
Gross National Happiness (GNH) was crafted by The fourth King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk in the late 1980s to define Bhutan’s development objective as improvement in the happiness and satisfaction of the people rather than growth of Gross National Product (GNP). GNH gained its place in the national planning as erstwhile Planning Commission was renamed as GNH Commission in 2008. GNH take hold of a sustainable balance between the economic, social, spiritual and cultural needs of the people.
Gross National Happiness has recently received international recognition and the UN has implemented a resolution on GNH. Basically GNH in Bhutan revolves around the four pillars of; i) Equitable and equal socio-economic development, ii) Conservation of environment, iii) Preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage and iv) Good governance.
Early history of Bhutan remains obscure. Some say that the name ‘Bhutan’ has been derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Bhot-ant’ meaning ‘end of Bhot’ or from ‘Bhu-uttan’ meaning ‘high land’. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, the Bhutanese themselves refer to their country as Druk Yul or the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Three important personalities have significance in shaping Bhutanese history.
The first figure being the great Indian Tantric Saint, Guru Padma Sambhava who came to Bhutan on the invitation of the then King of Bumthang, Sindhu Raja and also his journey to Paro Taktshang on a tigress in a wrathful form to spread Buddhism. He has blessed the country as “Baeyul”- a hidden land of treasures.
The second important figure is a Tibetan Re-incarnate Lama Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, who unified the country and established a dual system of governance in the 17th Century. Prior to his arrival history accounts that Bhutan was having several feudal chiefs ruling different regions in the country, often leading to constant conflicts.
People and culture
Bhutan has aptly been referred to as “The Last Shangri-la” due to its largely unspoilt natural environment and cultural heritage. Bhutanese tradition and culture is deeply rooted in Buddhist heritage.
Earliest settlers of Bhutan are “Monpa” who have been settled in pockets of Trongsa and Wangduephodrang district, speaking distinct dialect. Apart from Monpa there are different ethnic groups of people residing in various parts of Bhutan. For easy reference Bhutan has been broadly divided into three;– Sharchops, Ngalops and Lhotshampas – based on the regions settled.
Bhutan is located in Eastern Himalayas and is located between China towards the North and India from the remaining sides. Bhutan is approximately 300km long and 150km wide, with an overall size of 38,394 square kilometres. Most of the country is under forest cover (more that 70%) of the country is under forest cover. Its landscape consists of a succession of lofty and rugged mountain ranges separated by deep valleys. Northern part of Bhutan is bound by the snow capped mountains that reaches a height of over 7500 meters above sea level. The northern belt is inhabited by few nomads and yak herders who move to the warmer places in the winter and bring back their livestock for grazing in the summer.
Floral and Faunal diversity
Bhutan falls within the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity hotspots of the world and has over 70 % of its total land area under forest cover. The government has made a pledge to maintain a total forest cover of 60 % for all times to come. More than 50% of the country’s area is protected through National Parks and Biological Corridor.
The inventories have indicated that there are more than 5,500 species of vascular plants, more than 700 species of avifauna and more than 165 species of mammals, with many species being endemic to Bhutan. The various species of plants include 300 species of medicinal plants, 46 species of Rhododendron, 600 Orchid species.
Despite the diversity within the small country, Bhutan is united as a country and the following national symbol are recognized nationally and everybody knows regarding its significance.
The National flag is divided diagonally into two halves. The upper yellow half signifies the secular power and authority of the king while the lower saffron-orange symbolizes the practice of religion and power of Buddhism manifested in the tradition of Drukpa Kagyu. The dragon signifies the name, its white colour signifies the purity, while the jewels stand wealth and perfection of the country.