Bhutan an primeval land between Tibet(china) to the north and India to the south is a country far cry from the modern world located in the heart of the mighty Himalayas, the country of not more than 700,000 people constitutes one of the most rugged surfaces of the earth. The country is still intact with its age old living culture and tradition that play an important part role in their daily lives. Bhutanese or locally called themselves as the Drukpas are mongoloid by race.
Area: 38,394sq kms
Time: 6hrts ahead of GMT
Government: constitutional democratic monarchy.
Bhutan Clover Holidays is a Destination Management Company (BCH) founded by the comprehensive experiences of Mr. jimmy, After spending extensive time knowing the country, selecting meticulously suppliers and proposals, they decided to get into the game by organizing travel itineraries for visitors from around the world . Whether they are Private tours, Groups, Incentives, MICE, their goals have never changed; to acquaint the best of Bhutanese excellence.
Year after year, Bhutan Clover Holidays has grown to become an important point of reference in the world for those who seek attention to valuable details, wanting inconspicuous service whilst having the presence of excellent service in every part of the journey, wanting flexibility in arrangements; we are always prompt to realize the customers desires.
Discovering Bhutan via the services provided by Bhutan Clover Holidays (BCH) is a journey through the excellence of traditions, history, art and landscape. It is like when enjoying a Bhutanese happiness, whether in a group, individual or MICE, you get to savour Bhutan, proposed by us, rendering an unique experience.
Bhutan is a Buddhist country and people often refer to it as the last stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. Buddhism was first introduced by the Indian Tantric master Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Until then the people practiced Bonism a religion that worshipped all forms of nature, remnants of which are still evident.
Until then the people practiced Bonism a religion that worshipped all forms of nature, remnants of which are still evident even today in some remote villages in the country.
With the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, Buddhism began to take firm roots within the country and this especially led to the propagation of the Nyingmapa (the ancient or the older) school of Buddhism.
Phajo Drugom Zhigp from Ralung in Tibet was instrumental in introducing yet another school of Buddhism the Drukpa Kagyu sect. In 1222 he came to Bhutan, an event of great historical significance and a major milestone for Buddhism in Bhutan, and established the DrukpaKagyi sect of Buddhism, the state religion. His sons and descendants were also instrumental in spreading it to many other regions of western Bhutan.
The Buddhism practiced in the country today is a vibrant religion that permeates nearly every facet of the Bhutanese life style. It is present in the Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels punctuate the Bhutanese landscape. The chime of ritual bells, sound of gongs, people circumambulating temples and stupas, fluttering prayer flags, red robed monks conducting rituals stand as testaments to the importance of Buddhism in Bhutanese life.
Bhutan is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries. According to the United Nations’ development program, 26.2% of Bhutanese population lives on less than 1.25 US dollar per day. Around 30% of the people live below poverty line. Several organizations have development aid programs to promote education and other projects in Bhutan. However, this development aid is restricted by the government in order to protect the countries traditional culture. Although it might be a financially poor country, it has rich cultural values and nature and the preservation of these is leading.
Bhutanese economy is mostly based on agriculture, which together with livestock keeping is the main source of livelihood for over 80% of the population. The country hardly knows real industry, except forestry and cottage building. Most of the consumer goods and essentials are imported and its major export goods are calcium carbides, cement, wood based products, minerals and horticulture products. Hydroelectric power is Bhutan’s largest export product. Bhutan’s major trading partner is India. The two countries have a free trade relationship agreement. Bhutan exports about 90% to India, which is the countries source for 70% imports. The kingdom also has a preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh. Besides hydroelectric power, tourism also brings a lot of money to the country. Bhutan’s tourism industry is based on the principle of environmentally friendly, economical viability and sustainability. Mass tourism is prevented by the policy of high value and low volume. Tourists have to pay about 200 US dollars per day, thereby keeping Bhutan an exclusive and expensive destination and ensuring the preservation of Bhutan’s culture and traditions.
The political system of Bhutan has evolved over time to embrace the country’s traditions and culture. It has developed from fragmented rule of the different regions by local chieftains, lords and clans into the parliamentary democracy in place today.
The first move towards a systematic scheme of governance came in 1616 with the arrival of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal from Tibet. He introduced the dual system of governance with the Je Khenpo as the spiritual head of the nation and the Desis, as the head of the temporal aspects.
But a major breakthrough came about in 1907 when the people unanimously enthroned Ugyen Wangchuck as the fist hereditary King of Bhutan. He was the man who had proven his mettle by banding together the different Dzongpons and Penlops (governors of fortress), ending centuries of strife and bringing much needed stability and peace to the country. Since then the country has been ruled by successive monarchs of the Wangchuck dynasty.
In a move to ensure a more democratic governance of the country, the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck instituted the National Assembly (Tshogdu) in 1953. Every gewog has an elected member representing it in the National assembly. It became a platform where the people’s representatives enacted laws and discussed issues of national importance.
The establishment of the Royal Advisory Council (Lodoe Tshogde) in 1963 as a link between the king, council of ministers and the people was another move towards democratization. It also advised the king and the council of ministers on important issues and ensured that projects were implemented successfully.
The institution of Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu (District Development Assembly) in 1981 and Gewog Yargay Tshogchung (County Development Assembly) in 1991 by the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was another move towards decentralization.
But the devolution of the power of the King in 1998 to the cabinet ministers was the highest form of decentralization. The King, thereafter, began to serve as the Head of the State while the government was managed by the Prime Minister.
In November 2001, on the advice of the Fourth king, a committee chaired by the Chief Justice of Bhutan, was formed to draft the constitution of Bhutan. The constitution was launched in 2008 and with it a parliamentary democracy was introduced. The progression from Hereditary Monarchy to that of a Parliamentary Democracy has been a carefully managed process that culminated in 2008 when Bhutan held its first elections country wide. At present in 3rd genral election,The Druk Namrub Tsogpa (DNT) was mandated by the people to head the new government with a major victory. Today with 30 elected members, Lyonchen doc. Lotay Tshering steers the government with 17 opposition members from the Druk puensum Tsogpa(DPT) Party.
The organs comprise of the Legislature, Judiciary and the Executive. The ruling political party, the opposition and the National Council now form the legislative body.
Flora & Fauna
Physically, Bhutan can be divided into three zones: Alpine Zone (4000m and above) with no forest cover; the Temperate Zone (2000 to 4000m) with conifer or broadleaf forests; and the Subtropical Zone (150m to 2000m) with Tropical or Subtropical vegetation. Because of its wide altitude and climatic range, the flora and fauna is diverse and rich.
Forest types in Bhutan are Fir Forests, Mixed Conifer Forest, Blue Pine Forest, Chirpine Forest, Broadleaf mixed with Conifer, Upland Hardwood Forest, Lowland Hardwood Forest, and Tropical Lowland Forests. Almost 60% of the plant species that is found in the eastern Himalayan region can be found in Bhutan as well.
Bhutan boasts of about 300 species of medicinal plants and about 46 species of rhododendrons. Some common sights for the visitors are the magnolias, junipers, orchids of varied hues, gentian, medicinal plants, daphne, giant rhubarb, the blue poppy which is the national flower and tropical trees such as pine and oaks.
A wide range of animal could also be found frequenting the jungles of Bhutan. Some high altitude species are the snow leopards, the Bengal tigers that are found at altitude ranging 3000 to 4000 meters, the red panda, the gorals and the langurs, the Himalayan black bear and sambars, the wild pigs and the barking deer, the blue sheep and the musk deer. In the tropical forests of Southern Bhutan one can come across the clouded leopards, the one horned rhinoceros, elephants, golden langur that is unique to Bhutan, the water buffaloes and the swamp deer.
Bhutan also has a great variety of bird species. It is recognized as an area of high biological diversity and is known as the East Himalayan as hot spot situated as it is at the hub of 221 global endemic bird areas. The recorded number of bird species is over 670 and there are chances that this number could still go up.
In addition, 57% of Bhutan’s globally threatened birds and 90% of the country’s restricted rare birds are dependent on forests. Bhutan has about 415 resident bird species. These inhabitant birds are altitudinal refugees, moving up and down the mountains depending upon the seasons and weather conditions. Of about 50 species of birds that migrate in winters are the buntings, waders and ducks, thrushes and the birds of prey. Some 40 species are partial migrants and they include species such as swifts, cuckoos, the bee-eaters, fly catchers and the warblers.
Bhutan is also home to about 16 bird species that are endangered worldwide. These include the White bellied heron, Pallas Fish eagle, Blytha’s King fisher to name a few. Phobjikha valley in Wangdue Phodrang and Bomdeling in Trashi Yangtse are also two important places in Bhutan that is visited by the endangered Black Necked Crane.
Culture & Tradition
Bhutanese culture and Buddhist influence go hand-in-hand. The influence of religion is highly visible in every day life and is a major reason for Bhutan’s spiritual and cultural legacy. The hundreds of sacred monasteries, stupas, religious institutions, prayer flags and prayer wheels make Buddhism a faith that nowadays still is very alive and probably always will be in the kingdom. Not only this makes Bhutan a very authentic country; it is also because of the traditional woven garments the people wear, the typical robust yet refined architecture and the splendid cultural festivals which are steeped in Buddhism. All of these combined make Bhutan into a unique cultural setting.
All religious ceremonies and rituals (and there are many!) are regularly performed, with reverence for all of life. All Bhutanese families go on a pilgrimage on auspicious days, offering prayers and butter lamps to the gods of the Himalayas. National and regional festivals coincide with the seasons, happening all year round.
Bhutan might globally be a small country, yet it holds a very strong identity and unity. The rich cultural heritage is strongly promoted by its government. Although modernization is slowly making its way, generating urban settlements and introducing computers, mobile phones and other Western modernities, most of Bhutan’s people still live quietly in small remote villages. The predominant way of life are small family farms and Bhutan’s number one occupation is being a farmer.
The National Emblem of Bhutan is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placed above the lotus. There is a jewel on all sides with two dragons on vertical sides. The thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power while the lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies the sovereign power while the dragons (male and female) stands for the name of the country Druk-yul or the Land of the Dragon.
The National flag is rectangle in shape that is divided into two parts diagonally. 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 and the purity of the country while the jewels in its claws stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.
The national flower is Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis). It is a delicate blue or purple tinged blossom with a white filament. It grows to a height of 1 meter, on the rocky mountain terrain found above the tree line of 3500-4500 meters. It was discovered in 1933 by a British Botanist, George Sherriff in a remote part of Sakteng in eastern Bhutan.
The national tree is cypress (Cupressus torolusa). Cypresses are found in abundance and one may notice big cypresses near temples and monasteries. Cypress is found in the temperate climate zone, between 1800 and 3500 meters. Its capacity to survive on rugged harsh terrain is compared to bravery and simplicity.
The national bird is the raven. It ornaments the royal crown. Raven represents the deity Gonpo Jarodongchen (raven headed Mahakala), one of the chief guardian deities of Bhutan.
The national animal is the Takin (burdorcas taxicolor) that is associated with religious history and mythology. It is a very rare mammal with a thick neck and short muscular legs. It lives in groups and is found in places above 4000 meters high on the north-western and far north eastern parts of the country. They feed on bamboos. The adult takin can weigh over 200 kgs.