Why bhutan


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Why bhutan

  1. 1. Why Bhutan?What is the ultimate aspiration of all human beings? Are you happy about today’sworld; where peace is endangered and Nature’s bounty – symbolized in variousforms, such as the pristine rivers, lush green forests, snow clad mountains – hasbeen exploited beyond repair?Do you wish that you could turn the clock back and experience how the world was,before the pursuit of materialism changed the world’s face?Your wish can be fulfilled, for there is a country which has retained most of whatwe lost; where you can see and hear the melody of the birds, the songs of theflowing river and the virgin forests and mountains. And you can experience all thisover a cup of Cappuccino and as you communicate with your folks back home,using the latest technological gadget that you have.Welcome to Bhutan – the country where medievalism and modernity co-exists; where Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the yardstick for measuringdevelopment; and a country where the Monarch drafted the Constitution,voluntarily stepped down and instituted democracy.Across Bhutan will take you across the country, make you experience the soul ofthe country and give you moments that will linger forever in your mind. And it willbe more than just a vacation, but an enlightening experience.About BhutanBhutan, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, was isolated and almost non-existent inthe annals of the twentieth century history.This has been a blessing in disguise; for the country learnt about the mistakes madeby other nations – especially the fact that development is a two edged sword- thatit can destroy and not just bring about progress. Isolated and never colonized, thekingdom took the middle path in pursuing development. That is why it stands outunique and special.Bhutans culture is a living organic evolution that has adapted to the changes ofthe world, but maintained its core norms. It is the only country in the world wherethe sale of tobacco is banned and the streets of the capital and other towns have notraffic lights.It’s a country where television debuted as recently as 1999; where the first motor
  2. 2. road was built as lately as 1964. It’s a country where the rice is red and chiliesaren’t just a flavor but the main dish. It’s also a deeply spiritual land, where menand women wear the traditional dress (Gho for men/Kira for women) and giantprotective phalluses adorn the walls of traditional houses. It’s also the birthplaceof “Gross National Happiness” (GNH), a development philosophy that placesGNH above “Gross National Product”.Introducing the world’s newest democracy:In 2008, Bhutan became the youngest democracy when an overwhelming 83% ofthe total population went to the polls (53% were women and 30% were below theage of thirty). It was also the centenary year of the Wangchuck dynasty with HisMajesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck officially crowned the fifth king ofthe kingdom. A figure as beloved as his father, at 29, he became “The Peoples’King” and the youngest monarch in the world.It’s indeed, the last Shangri-La, an enchanted land long forgotten now awakeningthe world.More on BhutanBhutan: The nameThe ancient names of Bhutan provide insights into how it was perceived bythe outside world. It was known as Lho Mon (Southern Land of Darkness) andLhoJong Menjong (Southern Land of Medicinal Herbs).After the 17th century, Bhutan was known as Druk Yul- the land of the ThunderDragon, a name derived from the Drukpa Kagyu sect of Buddhism. From theSanskrit word, Bhu – Uttan, which means the high lands/head of India (whenlooked from the Indian plains). Accordingly, another Sanskrit word Bhotsant,which means the “tail” or end of Tibet is also attributed as a reason for the NameBhutan.HistoryNatural calamities like fire and massive earthquakes in the past have destroyedevidences speaking about Bhutan’s past. But from the Namthars (life stories ofgreat people/hagiography), and artefacts from ancient monasteries, prehistoricBhutan can be traced back to 500/600 AD.Early inhabitants of Bhutan practiced Bonism/Bon, an animastic tradition, whichremained before Buddhism came into the country with the visit of the Indian saint
  3. 3. Guru Padma Sambhava, popularly known as Guru Rimpoche or the PreciousTeacher visited Bhutan in 747 AD, at the request of Sindhu Raja, the King ofmodern day Bumthang.Guru Padmasambhava is regarded as the Second Buddha and the patron saintof Tantric Buddhism. It should be noted that religion and Bhutan cannot beseparated as religion has always played a very important role in shaping thecountry’s political, social and cultural life.Bhutan’s history can be broadly separated into the medieval era; the age ofShabdrung Ngawang Namgyal/Unification of Bhutan; Pre-Modern Bhutan andModern Bhutan.A brief outline of the salient features of all the periods can be summarized asfollows.Medieval EraA religious turmoil in Tibet in 836 to 842 AD made many religious teachers fleeTibet and settle in western Bhutan. A prominent one was Gyalwa Lhanampa, thefounder of the Lhapa Kagyu sect of Buddhism, who was in-fact the first one whostarted building dzongs (fortresses).In1220, Lama Phajo Drugom Zhigpa, came to Bhutan and defeated Lhanampa.The Lhapa Kagyu sect was replaced by the Drukpa Kagyu, propagated by PhajoDrugom Zhigpo.Phajo’s lineage led to the firm establishment of the Drukpa Kagyu school ofVajyarana Buddhism, especially in Western Bhutan. By the 16th century, theDrukpa Kagyu sect had become all powerful, which set the stage for the coming ofShabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, credited to have unified Bhutan.Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s eraIn the early years of the 17th century, there was religious turmoil in Bhutan too,with five different sects of Bhutan fighting against each other. Bhutanese historyrefers to it as the fight between the five Lamas, who had their own schools ofthoughts.It was in the midst of this that Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, whose life was atstake in Tibet, left his seat at Ralung, Tibet and fled to Bhutan in 1616. It is saidthat a Raven guided him to Bhutan and that he had several dreams telling him that
  4. 4. his future was in Bhutan.Upon arrival in Bhutan, he subdued the influences of the other five lamas andconsolidated his power by establishing relations with the neighboring Kings ofNepal, Cooch Bihar and Ladakh.However, it was the great victory over the Tibetians in 1639 that made NgawangNamgyal the undisputed leader of Druk Yul. He assumed the title of Shabdrung– which means at whose feet one submits, or the Supreme Religious Power. Hebecame the temporal as well as spiritual leader of Druk Yul.Apart from unifying the country, the Shabdrung instituted the Desi (civil ruler)and the Je Khenpo (the Chief Abbot or Spiritual leader), setting the dual system ofgovernment, which exists even today.In what is referred to as decentralization today, Shabdrung divided the countryinto regions and appointed Chila Namsum, (who were later called as Penlops) andDzongpons (Provincial rulers), who were given the mandates to administer at thelocal levels. Judicial and revenue/taxes administration were also established.However, the constructions of Dzongs (fortresses) were his main contributions,which have stood the test of time and can be seen all over the country. The dzongswere used as the administrative seats and established in strategic places as he hadto fight several wars with the Tibetians.In the 35 years of governance, he contended with aggressions from Tibet in 1639and the joint forces of Tibet and the Mongols in 1647. Tibetian attacks in 1648and 49 were also repelled.In 1651 Shabdrung went to a sacred retreat. It is because of this that Bhutan’shistory has no record of when the Shabdrung expired. In his absence the Desisruled the country and Bhutan was torn by civil wars between Penlops of differentregions fighting for power. 22 Desis were assassinated or deposed.Pre modern Bhutan – the rise of the Wangchuck dynastyBhutan had a strong presence in the duars (meaning the doors to Bhutan) in theSouthern foothills, after the invasion of Cooch Bihar in 1772 by Bhutanese forces.At that time, the East India Company, had not brought Cooch Bihar under itsdomain.
  5. 5. However, Bhutan’s invasion in 1772 made Khagendra Narayan, a pretender to theThrone of Cooch Bihar seek British help. In the war that followed, Cooch Biharwas taken over by the British.At this period, the 17th Desi, Tsenlop Kuenga Rinchen sought help from thePanchhen Lama of Tibet, who mediated between the Desi and Warren Hastings,the Governor General of British India. The outcome was the Anglo-Bhutan Treatysigned in April 25, 1774, whereby the Bhutanese agreed to return to the boundariesbefore the invasion of Cooch Bihar.The Duar warsThe duars were the areas between the plains of river Brahmaputra (in present dayAssam, India) and the southern foothills of Bhutan. By 1826, Bhutan had gainedcontrol of all 18 duars – 11 in Bengal and 8 in Assam. This was an issue for BritishIndia, who annexed the Asam Duars in 1841. It was after this that Bhutan andBritish India fought incessantly for about 20 years.The Ashley Eden Mission in 1864 failed to resolve the duar issue and in November1864, the British attacked Bhutan, By March1865, the British had taken over theduars.It was during this period that Jigme Namgyal, the Trongsa Penlop and father ofBhutan’s first King, rose to power. He led most of the duar wars and also signedthe treaty of Sinchula on November 11, 1865, which was the beginning of Anglo-Bhutan relations. The duars were taken over by the British and trade opened.The institution of the MonarchyTrongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal became an undisputed leader and influencedBhutanese politics even after his resignation from the Desi’s post in 1873. Thoughexternal aggression stopped, internal feuds increased.It was then that Ugyen Wangchuck, the Trongsa Penlop and son of Jigmi Namgyalbegan to unify Bhutan. Rebellions were crushed between 1882-1885, and themost decisive battle was the battle of Changlingmithang in 1885, where UgyenWangchuck defeated his final foes.
  6. 6. Having established his powers, on December 17, 1907 Ugyen Wangchuck wasunanimously crowned as the first hereditary Monarch of Bhutan, which was alsorecognized by the British in India.The Wangchuck dynastyLooking at the different milestones achieved by each Monarch, Bhutan’s Kingsand the era under them have different titles.The first King’s era (1907-1926) is known as the era of unification, for it wasduring this period that the entire country came under the banner of the first King.The second King, Jigmi Wangchuck’s who ruled from 1926 to 1952 is known forhaving consolidated Bhutan. The era is called the era of Consolidation.The third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck’s era is called as the era ofModernization, for it was during his period that Bhutan shred the policy ofisolation and began planned development. He is also known as the father ofmodern Bhutan and ruled from 1952-1972.The era of the fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the father of GrossNational Happiness (GNH), who ruled from 1972-2006, before abdicating theThrone and setting up democratic Bhutan could rightfully be called as the era ofdemocratization.
  7. 7. The current era is the beginning or the dawn of a new era. The King, Jigme KhesarNamgyel Wangchuck, popularly known as the “People’s King” is the head ofState.Form of GovernmentOn December 17, 2005, the Fourth King shook the nation as he said that he willbe abdicating the Throne for his son and that Bhutan is ready for Democracy, withgeneral elections to be held in 2008.The King said that in 1907, the Bhutanese gave the Wangchuck family theresponsibility to rule Bhutan and that 100 years have passed and the Bhutaneseshould be able to govern themselves.Bhutan adopted its first Constitution on July 18, 2008. The Constitution, whichwas drafted by a group of experts, was taken all over the nation, by the fourthKing. It was discussed with the people and the final draft drawn.Today, Bhutan has a two party democratic system. While the King remains as thehead of State, the three arms of the government, the Judiciary, Executive and theLegislative are independent institutions.In the first general elections, there were two parties, the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) and the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) who contested against each other.The DPT won with a landslide in the first elections held on March 24, 2008, with
  8. 8. the PDP winning only two seats from the 47 constituencies.The President of the DPT, Jigmi Y Thinley is Bhutan’s first democratically electedgovernment.The head of the PDP, is the Opposition leaderThe Parliament also has the National Council, which is the upper house. A membereach from Bhutan’s 20 districts and five appointed by His majesty the King formsthe National Council. As in other countries, the NC is the house of review, wherebills originating from the National Assembly are reviewed. The members areapolitical.Moreover, all the 20 districts are divided into gewogs (county), which are furtherdivided into chiwogs (a group of villages). Bhutan has 205 gewogs.In what is a perfect example of decentralization, all plans originate from thegewogs, which are discussed in the districts and then passed to the centralgovernment. In other words, development is a bottom-up system.The Judiciary is independent and the Supreme Court is the interpreter of theConstitution. While all the 20 districts have courts, the capital houses the HighCourt and the Supreme Court.Additionally, constitutional bodies such as the Election Commission of Bhutan,the Anti Corruption Commission. The Royal Audit Authority and the RoyalCivil Service Commission exists. These bodies have been framed to ensure goodgovernance.The Monastic bodyThe dual system of government framed by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal existseven today.Bhutan’s clergy or the Central Monk Body is headed by the Je-Khenpo (ChiefAbbot), who is supported by the Five Masters, called as the Lopen Ngap in thelocal dialect.The current chief abbot is Bhutan’s 71st abbot.Bhutan’s geographyBhutan can be divided into four regions- the West, Central, East, and South.Western BhutanSeven districts form the region and the Black Mountains (4,200m) have alwaysbeen the dividing line between the West and Central Bhutan.
  9. 9. Chukha at an altitude of 2240 meters is the economic region of Bhutan.Hydrpower projects, which are Bhutan’s main generator of income are located inthe region. Moreover, Phuentsholing, the commercial hub of Bhutan is located inthe district.Thimphu at an altitude of 2,320 m is the capital of Bhutan. It is also an attractivecenter for tourists and houses the following places of interest.Tashichhodzong- or the fortress of the glorious religion houses the Throne roomof His Majesty the King and the Je Khenpo. The National Assembly Hall standsopposite to the Dzong.Thimphu also has the National Textile Museum, the Folk Heritage Museum, theinstitute of traditional medicine services, the Takin preserve, the national instituteof traditional arts, the national library and the national memorial chorten. Apartfrom this, there are several lhakhangs (temples) and goenpas that can be visited.Paro at an altitude of 2,280 meters has the country’s only airport. One of the mostdeveloped districts in the country, Paro houses a total of 176 Lhakhangs and 427choetens. It is place to Taktsang monastery- called as the Tiger’s nest. Paro valleyis also called as the rice bowl of the country.Punakha at an altitude of 1,220 meters was the winter capital of Bhutan until1955. However, it is still the winter residence of the Chief Abbot.Punakha Dzong, which literally means the Palace of Happiness, is built at thejunction of two rivers. It was in Punakha that Bhutan’s first hereditary King wascrowned.WangduePhodrang at an altitude of 1,240 meters is home to the the BlackNecked Cranes, which fly in winter from Tibet to Phobjikha, in WangduePhodrang.Haa at an altitude of 2,700 meters is literally known as the Hidden Land RiceValley. Situated at the border with China, the district is mostly covered by forests.Gasa at an altitude of 2770 m is known for its hotsprings. It is home to peopleleading pastoral lives. Yaks and cordyceps are the specialties of the district.Central BhutanTrongsa at an altitude of 2,000 m is the central most districts in Bhutan. It was
  10. 10. from here that the Wangchuck family spread its wings of power. The dzong thereis known as the “fortress on tip of a conch” and is the longest dzong in Bhutan.Trongsa also houses Ta Dzong, the watch tower.Bumthang, at an altitude 2,700 m Bhutan’s spiritual heartland. The tales of GuruPadma Sambhava and his reincarnates, especially the great treasure discoverers areembodiments of Bumthang.Farther east is Lhuntse, at an altitude of 1,460m. It holds a very historic place at itis the ancestral home of the Wangchuck dynasty.Zhemgang, at an altitude of 1,900m is one of the most inaccessible districts. It isthe place from where all bamboo products originate.Eastern BhutanMongar and Trashigang at 1,620m are the main districts. Traditional weaving isthe hallmark of the two regions.The next in line is TrashiYangtse at an altitude of 1,830 meters. It borders theIndian state of Arunachal Pradesh and is also a place blessed by Guru PadmaSambhava. The district is renowed for its traditional products made from wood likebowls and cups.Pemagatshel at an altitude of 1,560 meters, which literally means the “Blissfulland of the lotus” is known for its production of cultural and religious items, suchas gyalings (similar to reed), dungs etc.The final eastern district is Samdrup Jongkhar bordering with the Indian state ofAssam. It is the commercial hub of Eastern Bhutan.Southern BhutanMade up of the districts of Dagana (1,520m), Samtse (420m), Sarpang (325m) andTsirang (1,560m) are located at the foothills. Most of the people living there areLhotsampas, who speak Nepali and follow the Hindu religion.Due to its proximity to India, the region consists of manufacturing industries,such as processed fruit juices. Mandarin and cardamom are also produce of thesedistricts.Our offersAcross Bhutan can take and give you whatever you desire, based on yourinterest. Are you interested in Culture; Trekking; Camping; Birdwatching;
  11. 11. Studying…..Name it and We will ensure that you get what you want.CultureBhutan has at its disposal a rich variety of cultures, lifestyles, languages andbeliefs. But most of the Bhutan’s culture is manifested in its architectural wonderscalled Dzongs and Tsechus – religious festivals.People and LanguageThe two are core aspects of culture. And though Bhutan is a small country thereare three major ethnic groups; the Sharchops-people of eastern Bhutan; theNgalops (people of western Bhutan) and the Lhotsampas (people of SouthernBhutan).However, other groups such as Bumtaps(people of Bumthang), Khengpas(peopleliving in the district of Zhemgang), Layaps and Brokpas (the two communities thatmigrate) are prominent.There are about 20 different dialects spoken by the people.However, dzongkha – the language of the people of western Bhutan is the officiallanguage.DressBhutanese men wear Gho – a knee length robe tied at the waist by a belt known asKera.Women wear Kira- an ankle length dress, which is also tied at the waist by a Kera.Komas- brooches fasten the Kira on their shoulder. A long sleeved blouse knownas a wonjo is worn inside the Kira and a Tego (like a jacket) is worn outside.A traditional boot called the Tsolam is also worn on special occasions.Additionally, scarfs called kabney for men and rachu for women is worn duringformal occasions and in offices. There are different colors of a Kabney, whichrepresent the hierarchy in society, including the post that a man/woman holds.The yellow scarf is for the King and the Head abbot. The Orange are for ministers,the red for Dashos (a title equivalent to Knighthood); blue for members of theParliament; green for the Justices and white for common man.A Patang (sword) is also tied to the belt and is the prerogative of those that areordained with the red, blue, green, orange and the yellow scarfs. However, the
  12. 12. King can ordain a patang for those with white scarfs.FoodThis is also an essence of culture and the Bhutanese diet is mainly composed ofrice with curry. At higher lands wheat and buckwheat are the staple food.Bhutanese love spicy food and emadatsi (chilly with cheese) is one of the mostfavored dishes. Apart from that Bhutanese diet also include pork, beef, chicken andvegetables. However, with development the food pattern has also changed, with alltypes of dishes served in hotels and restaurants.ArchitectureDzongs are the symbols of Bhutanese architecture, which have been constructedwithout the use of nails. Lhakhangs (temples), goenpas (monasteries) , Choetens(Stupas) are other illustrations of Bhutanese architecture.Arts and craftsBhutan’s spiritual and intellectual life is reflected in its art and crafts. Art isnot based on the concept of beauty but on interpretations of values. Most artsepitomize the conflict between good and evil and have religious significance.Bhutan has 13 traditional arts and crafts- called as Zorigchusum. Here arts madefrom stone, wood, clay, bronze, wood, slate and stone carvings, paintings, leatherwork’ blacksmith, gold and silver smith, bamboo and cane crafts, weaving andtailoring are the 13 forms.Music and dancePerforming arts such as music and dance are popular aspects of the country’sculture.Bhutanese music have traditional genres like Zhungdra (classical song), Boedra(folk song) and Rigsar (modern music). The dances are performed at all importantcelebrations and festivals.Bhutan can be called the country of festivals. Dromchees and Tsechus- religiousfestivals are held in different parts of the country. It is believed that by attendingthe Tsechus, one gain merits.Mask dances are the most popular form of religious dances. There are many typesof dances and all have spiritual bearings. Monks as well as villagers perform thedances. The Tsechus are held to commemorate events in the life of Guru PadmaSambhava.Sports
  13. 13. Archery is the national game, while other traditional games are degor(similar todiscuss), Pungdo (shotput)Khuru (dart), Soksum (Javelin) and Keshi (wrestling).Unlike Olympic style, Bhutanese archery is played in a 140 meter ground with atarget each in the two opposite areas. Teams compete against each other and everyplayer is given a pair of arrows. It is considered as an art showcasing muscularstrength, mental spirit and the highest spirit of competition.While traditionally, bows were made of bamboo, the advent of Compound bows,(hunting bows) have taken over traditional bows.However, modern games like soccer, basketball, taekwondo, volleyball, cricket,tennis etc are also played.EnvironmentBhutan is part of the ten global hotspots in the world. It is home to 221 endemicbirds and the ecosystem is home to and harbors most of the world’s exotic speciesof flora and fauna.The Constitution of the country mandates that at all times the forest cover shouldbe 60%. Because of this most of the forested areas have been converted toprotected parks.Bhutan’s wealth of flora include 5,400 vascular plants, 360 species of orchids, 46species of rhododendron, junipers, magnolia, blue poppy, primulas and over 500species of medicinal plants.Moreover, Bhutan is a haven for animals, especially along the southern foothills.Elephants, tigers, guar, wild water buffalo, golden langur, hog deer, cloudedleopard are found in the Subtropics.In the mountains are yaks, takins, blue sheep, musk deer, snow leopard. Wolf andMarmots.The Temperate ranges houses Tigers, Leopars, Gorads, Himalayan black beer,Sambar, Red Panda, Barking Deer and the wild pig.Recently, the discovery of Tigers above 4,000 meters by a team of experts from theBBC broke the myth that Tigers do not live in very high grounds.There are about 770 species of birds that include Himalayan Griffon, ibisbill,Hornbill, Sunbirds, Cuckoos, Fulvettas, Barbets, and varieties of Wren Babblers.More than 28 internationally endangered birds such as the Pallas Fish Eagle,
  14. 14. White-bellied Herons, Satyr Tragopan, Great Parrotbill, Dark- rumped Swift etc.Additionally, Bhutan is the wintering ground for the endangered Black NeckedCranes.About Tourism- the Bhutanese styleTourism in Bhutan is also unique. Visitors famously have to pay a minimum ofUS$200 per day, making it one of the world’s most expensive destinations. Buthang on, listen- the fee is an all-inclusive package; whether you want to travel in agroup or as a “Free Individual Traveler”, your itinerary can be arranged accordingto your needs, likes and dislikes. The all-inclusive package is freedom to tailoryour travel style, food, accommodation, guide and enough hospitality to make youcome back again and again.What is not allowed is the backpacker-style independent travel.About us.Dear Guests,Warmest greetings from Across Bhutan Tours & Treks.Allow us to introduce ourselves to you - your new travel partner, committed to providing you thebest of services.A registered tour company under the Tourism Council of Bhutan and a member of theAssociation of Bhutan Tour Operators (ABTO), Across Bhutan was established by a team ofcommitted tour professionals, all of whom have extensive hands-on experience in the tourismsector for over a decade. Our highly experienced team has travelled the length and breadth ofBhutan, and their intimate knowledge of the country enables them to bring you the best that thisland of happiness has to offer.Travel More, Worry Less!!! We understand how much your trip means to you and so we offeryou the widest range of tour options to the most exotic destinations in Bhutan. All our tourpackages are backed by a professional touch and value for money. We ensure that our guests experience the highest standard of travel services and we aim toexceed your expectations. We, at Across Bhutan know that you look upon us to obtain the valuefor your money and hence, we are dedicated to showing you Bhutan at its finest.Welcome to the land of Thunder Dragon and thank you for choosing us.Management, Across Bhutan Tours & TreksWhy Across Bhutan?Because we care about what we have inherited and want to show and share thislittle gem with you; personally because we’re good at it. We know the ins and outsof every destination we recommend and unabashedly, we can bring an insight andcreate the perfect trip that few can match.We are also dedicated to constantly finding new ways and means to enrich yourexperience. There are parts of Bhutan that were closed to tourists, which have beenopened up recently. These are exciting times and the east of Bhutan allows us tooffer you more of the Bhutanese experience. Across Bhutan is always pushing
  15. 15. the envelope to take you out of the “tourist zone” and into real locale environs-to create experiences that impregnate the imagination. We believe that a vacationshould be more than just a vacation. The journey is the destination and we believethat in coming to Bhutan, the destination is also the journey.Our services aim at providing just that. Our experiences range from scouting newvalleys and regions just recently opened up to upgrading the bird’s eye view ofplains, hills and valleys already in sight (we give you the inner info) and how bestto reconnect, rediscover and enjoy them. Again, these agendas are all fluid, so youcan have them tailored- nothing like a perfect fit and a little snug.We Care:Together with our inner info comes a great deal of outer care. Bhutan is a friendlycountry and its inhabitants are stern about hospitality- it’s an honorable duty..Basically, we are here to make sure you lack nothing and find a helping hand witheverything.So what does taking a trip with Across Bhutan mean? It means we start by plantingthe seeds for the beginning of a great adventure- and all great adventures germinatein a thought that grows louder and louder yearning for a listener. Hence the reasonwhy we are here- we believe in listening to all your queries; without labeling themsmart or stupid. To us, that’s an expression of interest and anyone that wants toknow, design a trip and see our little Himalayan hamlet is an honored guest.Even as this website is here to inspire you to find out more about our company,it’s really the country we are promoting that we want you to discover. Shouldthis website arouse a little curiosity and make you ponder the name “Bhutan”,we believe that a tiny seed of curiosity has been planted, which someday willmature enough to make you book a trip to Bhutan. Should you contact us for thatbooking, we’ll have met at the crossroads where the next port of call spells thename, “Bhutan”. From there on we’ll be in touch to find out just what suits youbest.Getting In Touch:Just give us a call, an email or send a fax. Hospitality is what we are all about andour small staff of dedicated professionals would love to weave together the bestway for you (on and off the road less traveled).Getting Ready For Departures:Once that tailored suit with all your personal measurements is ready to be delivered
  16. 16. and worn, the Across Bhutan -Bhutan experience is ready, steady and set to go.The experience warms up as you get closer to your destination. Before you lock thehouse or board the plane, we will have everything sorted out for you; visas, date ofdepartures, port of entry, visa fees, what to bring and most importantly, what not tobring (our humble observation tells us that 90% of travelers coming to Bhutan tendto go excess baggage). If you are going to go back to Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi,Kolkata, Baghdora or Bodh Gaya- it’s easier to leave the bulk of your luggagethere.The Touchdown:Druk Air, your Royal Bhutan Airlines, is the only carrier flying in and out ofBhutan. It operates flights from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Baghdora, Bodh Gayaand Kathmandu. It’s also your first visual experience with Bhutan. The planeis a mini-Bhutan on air. Immediately you will notice the infectious Bhutanesehospitality (bordering on the general Bhutanese concept of “no such thing asprivacy”) smiling and looking at you. This is normal and a gesture of politeness.Bhutanese are by nature chilled out, laid back and relaxed. The planes’ normallyvery spacious (on account of low local passengers), which should give you roomand windows enough to savor the sights, especially if your route is Kathmandu-Bhutan (behold the mighty Himalayas to your left).The touchdown can be a pat nervous to the uninitiated but there is no cause forworry. The two BAe-146 aircrafts are specialized high altitude planes piloted bythorough professionals with some twenty-odd years of experience. The airport isin Paro, a picturesque and sacred valley. The countdown to the touchdown has thepilots maneuvering the craft through mountains and hills to an invisible airport!Probably the smallest airport in the world, the Paro Terminal is at once quiet,lazy and tranquil. Our guide will be awaiting your arrival with a Japanese-makeautomobile and its designate driver.The Guide:The guide can be as supportive or as hands off as you want. He will though sharewith you thoughts on what to do and where to go, which is essentially gettingunder the skin of the destination when you are there albeit after you have recoveredfrom the strangest flight you have ever had with a good nap at the designated hotel.If you would like us to go a step further and make bookings when you are thereand organize an additional activity then that’s not a problem either. The long andshort of it is that if you ever change your mind or want some new ideas whilstaway, the guide is just an ear and a phone call away. This is to ensure that your tripcontinues to be the perfect travel experience that we have promised and planned.
  17. 17. The Beginning of Something Beautiful:So the trip starts and now it’s time to let the senses take in the whole thing. Youwill encounter a variety of enigmas wherever you go but remember to keep it allopen. Your reality back home is now an illusion and the environment you are in,very real. Leave behind the reality of the office back home and indulge yourself ina wonderful experience often too much to stomach. As part of the Across Bhutanexperience, we want to help you avoid whatever is bothersome and get on anexperience we know you will cherish when you get back here after a whirlwindtour of the kingdom’s many fortresses, monasteries, valleys, gorges, hills andhamlets.We like to think we have all aspects of the travel covered and importantly realizethat both the ‘arrival’ and ‘back to the real world’ aspects of your trip are keenlybalanced. Your journey with us begins as soon as you pick up the phone and weare constantly looking for more ways to bring in the magic and the mantra as wellas your family members, relatives, friends and colleagues.In conclusion, a journey unto the unknown is about the sense of discovery- ofthings new and strange, which then becomes a familiar collection of memorieswonderful and unforgettable to store away and re-visit for the rest of your life.When you depart, we want you to feel a connection with this truly remarkable landand its inhabitants and an attachment similar to your excitement when you decidedto do this trip with us.Our offersCultural tours, Festivals, Photography, bird-watching, Botanical Tours, Fishing,Trekking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Hiking, Golfing, Kayaking etc areservices that you can choose from.Cultural ToursThrough this you will get to see Bhutanese life and culture. Your guide will takeyou to the dzongs, religious festivals, pilgrimage sites, museums and excursionsinto villages. And as you watch the festivals- mask dances, you will know moreabout Buddhism; about what every move means, every dance means.PhotographyBhutan is a paradise for photographers. You will get the opportunity to click andtake home what you have perhaps seen in dreams only.The beautiful landscape, rough rushing rivers, snow clad mountains, flora and
  18. 18. fauna, architecture….everything is a picture you will not want to miss.Bird WatchingYou need not be an ornithologist. The sight of the birds will make you one. Getyour cameras ready, everytime for you do not know what may come – you maymiss.Botanical ToursYou may perhaps need more than a year to know all about the plants, herbs andshrubs. The best of the country’s flora can be seen at the beginning of monsoon.But Spring is the time to see the rhododendrons sprouting and the magnoliassmiling.FishingFishing is not common among Bhutanese but you could experience fishing in thecrystal clear waters. Fishing spots can range from rivers to spring fed streams.Snow and brown trouts are what you may catch.Mountain BikingThe West- East lateral highway is a dream route for those who love mountainbiking. The challenge is there – a new pass over 3000 m every day. You can bikealong the longest downhill stretch in the world- a 70km stretch.HikingDay hiking possibilities are everywhere; short one or two hours hike or a day long.It is the best way to explore beauty.Rafting and KayakingThough at a nascent stage, you can experience it, especially in the waters ofwestern Bhutan.GolfingThe Royal Thimphu Golf Course is one of the highest in the world. So experiencegolfing at the top of the world.TrekkingThis involves treading through passes as high as 5,500 meters, where you willget to see the breathtaking landscapes. There are treks ranging from low altitudeshort three day treks to high altitude treks covering about 400 kms and passing thecountry’s three highest passes.
  19. 19. Across Bhutan SpecialBut there is something that only Across Bhutan can give you.If you are a scholar doing a study on Gross National Happiness (GNH) but do notknow how to begin- we are there. Just contact us and we will make everythingready; you can sit with the experts on GNH and speak for hours. You will not becharged- it is an Across Bhutan Special.Similarly, if you want to know about Buddhism, talk to a Buddhist scholar, it isvery easy. Just contact us.And you do not have to worry about communication; French, Japanese, or Chinese.We will do the talking.Travel Tips I. Bhutan standard time is 6 hours ahead of GMT. There is only one time zone in the country; it is 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time. II. The currency is Ngultrum, which is equivalent to the Indian rupee III. VISA and MASTER Cards are accepted, But it would be best to carry American travellers cheques. IV. Communications is no problem and neither are internet services. V. No vaccinations are needed for travelling to Bhutan. However, if you are coming from a yellow fever affected country, get vaccinated. VI. Bhutanese dishes are spicy and rich. But hotels serve Indian, Chinese, Continental, Thai and Italian dishes. VII. The roads are winding and narrow, But you need not fear, for our drivers are experts. VIII. It is advisable to bring clothes that match with the season. IX. The maximum altitude you can reach by road is 3150 meters in the West and 3750 meters in the East. X. Smoking in public places is banned in Bhutan.