Kingdom of Bhutan is the smallest, yet one of the principal countries in our list that compose the Great Himalayan Trail. It is truly a mountainous country, with over 80% of its territory consisting of hills and mountains, and more than 60% of its terrains covered in forests. Like Nepal, it is a landlocked nation bordered by China in the north, and India on its east, west and south.
Bhutan, being a highland country, mainly consists of sloppy terrain, in the form of hills and mountains. Making its way between the hills are numerous rivers containing mountain water. Deep gorges and valleys are also found in Bhutan in abundance. Gangkhar Puensum standing at 7570 m is the highest mountain in Bhutan. It is also considered as the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
The terrains in Bhutan are homes to spectacular landscapes that appear like a piece of painting on the canvas. The high white and grey mountains, green hills with sub alpine conifer and subtropical forests, and the crisscrossing white rivers are the elements that make the most amazing sceneries in Bhutan.
Bhutan is regarded as an example when it comes to environment conservation. They have prioritized the preservation of nature and wildlife over everything else. More than 60 % of the land area in Bhutan is covered with forests, which houses 10 National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. The major ones include Jigme Dorji National Park, Royal Manas National Park, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary and so on.
These areas are homes to around 5400 species of plants, 770 types of birds, and numerous kinds of animals like Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Bengal tiger, Clouded Leopard, Blue Sheep, Himalayan Musk Deer and so on. The rare White Winged Duck is also found in Bhutan. An endangered species, it is one of the largest species of duck.
Apart from nature, what makes this country awesome is its rich cultural heritage. Buddhism is the main religion in Bhutan, which was introduced here as early as 7th century AD by a Tibetan ruler named Tsong Sang Gampo. The very renowned architectures in the country takes inspiration from this religion, few of which include Drukgyel Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Tamzhing Monastery and Trongsa Dzong. The latter one is the biggest one of all in Bhutan.
The monasteries, temples and sacred sites in Bhutan are said to have connections with Guru Rinpoche, a legendary Indian Buddhist who is said have spread Buddhism and its teachings across Asia, and Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, a Tibetan Buddhist who had a significant role in the religious history of the country.
One of the best things about Bhutan is its government policy to compute Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead of GNP (Gross National Product) to determine the progress in the country. A survey calculates the number of people who are actually happy with their current situation. And if someone is unhappy, what’s the cause of their unhappiness, and accordingly, the changes are made to reverse the situation. The higher the number of happy people, the higher the GNH.
All these features definitely make Bhutan one of the countries that you need to visit before you die. Last year, Bhutan welcomed more than 140,000 tourists from around the world. Once they’re here, the tourists seek to witness this wonderful spectacle of nature. Their motive is to explore the landscapes by engaging in activities like mountaineering, trekking, hiking and so on that brings them close to earth.
The history and religion of the country is also something worth exploring. There are a number of monuments and sites that teach us about the rich heritage of Bhutan and its people. Bhutan has a shared history with the Chinese and Tibetan Rulers, the Moghul Kings and the British East India Company. All these have shaped Bhutan into what it is today
And the most crucial aspect of visiting the kingdom – its people. The warm, loving and welcoming people who will leave no stone unturned to serve you to satisfaction. Getting to know the people their culture and religion, and their lifestyle is an amazing and distinct experience altogether. Their food, their livelihood, and their style of living is something that’s sure to inspire you.