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Bhutan
2:36 PM
Thimphu21°C
Friday, August 18, 2017

Bhutan

Simple living and high thinking is the mantra for the Bhutanese people. A nation that assigns statistical peg to its happiness (Gross National Happiness) and is delightfully cut off from Western influences, Bhutan is an otherworldly experience. It’s hilltop monasteries, vibrant local life, festivals and rich bio diversity makes it one of the most coveted destinations for the offbeat traveller. It is a fascinating place, which still holds its King in reverence. All in all Bhutan is all about heartwarming charismatic simplicity.

Trip to Bhutan can be planned throughout the year, but most suitable travel periods lie between March to May and September to November. The winter months from mid November to mid March are cold and the monsoons usually arrives in mid-June, with light rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings. Bhutan’s topography has a vast span from near tropical plains near India to snow capped mountains bordering Tibet. Temperatures vary in large degrees between nights and day. Travellers are recommended to dress appropriately in layers to be able to enjoy the scenic vistas and local life, despite the swing in temperature.

Major Cities / Tourist Places

major-city

The delightful ambience and the happy occupants of all the towns of Bhutan are what makes the country, the happiest nation in the world. Thimphu and Paro, the most popular of all are the expected ones on the itineraries. But apart from these, Punakha, Bumthang, Gangtey and many more offer a peek into local life and history. Tread towards the obvious and some of the offbeat to get a true sense of Bhutan.

Iconic Places

tiger-nest

Apart from the capital, Thimphu, towns like Paro and Punakha figure high on the list for travellers. In Paro, sights like Paro Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong, the National museum and the bazaar are the top highlights. In Punakha Valley, one is likely to get regaled by the stunning views. The Dochula pass between Thimphu and Punakha offers brilliant views of the towering peaks. Trongsa and Bumthang are the other places that one must not miss.

Experiences

experience

Of the many adventure and culture filled experiences, climbing the Tiger Nest Monastery (Taktsang Palphug Monastery) is on the list of essential experiences in Bhutan. Others include visits to the many monasteries and the Buddhist festivals that are held regularly through the year. These are called ‘tshechu’ in local language and are a good place to see masked dancers and whole towns draped in vibrant colours. The Bumthang valley is great for mild and tough treks. Bhutan has a wholesome offering of experiences for different moods and tastes.

Festivals

festiva

A festival or ‘tshechu’ is the most vibrant time in Bhutan. Most of the festivals are held in monasteries where masked dancers and local musicians take to the stage, as locals sit in rapt attention. Travelling to Bhutan during these festivals is sure to add a great dimension to your travels. Many of Bhutan’s festivals are spiritual in nature, commemorating the great Buddhist teachers of the land. Monasteries and villages around them are the best places to see the full scope of the reverence that people still feel. The most unique festival is the Black Necked Crane Festival held in November at the Gangtey Gonpa in Phobjikha.

Festivals Calendar 2016

Jan
10th
Traditional Day of Offerings
Feb
08th
Public Holiday
Feb
09th
Losar (New Year)
Apr
16th
Shabdrung Kuchoe
May
21st
Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana
Sep
22nd
Blessed Rainy Day
Oct
07th
Thimphu Tshechu
Nov
20th
Day of Lord Buddha
Dec
17th
National Day

Top Stays

stay

It is unlikely to find many starred accommodations in Bhutan, but one can be assured of the quality and comfort, given that the better stays are accredited by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Traditional Bhutanese aesthetics are a given in most of the accommodations. But that is not to say that one will not find modern comforts.  A mix of local and International cuisines is available in most of them. The one thing that is likely to be common to all of Bhutan’s accommodations is the scenic views from the windows. You will also find a smattering of high-end holistic healing focussed properties.