About Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is wedged between India and China along the lofty mountains of the eastern Himalayas, between longitude 88°45' and 92 degree10' east and latitude 26 degree40' and 28degree15'. With an area of approximately 46,500 sq. kilometers, Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland in both size and topography, being largely mountainous. The country with these borders form a giant staircase, from a narrow strip of land in the south at an altitude of 10,000 feet, up to some of the unclimbed Himalayan peaks on Earth.

For centuries, the people and the rulers have vehemently protected their independence and Bhutan is one of the few countries that escaped the yoke of colonization. The independent state of Bhutan today is one of the last bastions of Mahayana Buddhism. Thus, Bhutan today remains one of the most sought after destinations in the world of tourism and Travel.

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Religion

Bhutan's official religion is Drukpa Kagyu, a school of Tantric Mahayana Buddhism, similar to the Buddhism of Tibet. Tantric form of religion emerged as the last phase in the long evolution of Buddhism. The word 'Trantism' comes from Tantras, the name of a body of esoteric texts which appeared roughly between the third and the tenth century. These are divided into four groups: tantras of action, tantras of behaviour, tantras of yoga, and finally tantras without any superiors. If we place Bhutan's religion in the full context of Buddhism, it is necessary to go back nearly 2500 years and trace the points at which the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and its antecedents diverged from other schools of Buddhism.

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Arts and Crafts

The Himalayan Mountains are a fragile environment the actions of wind, water, earthquakes and fire have made serious changes in the topography. The intervention of people on this environment has, to date, been without major effect. However, that influence is changing and, unless checked, could be disastrous to the Himalayan states and their neighbours.

The Himalayas posses an unforgettable aura and magnetism, a personality at once diverse and distant but also familiar and friendly; there are high mountain peaks, rushing streams and delicate waterfalls, narrow fertile valleys and mountain slopes carpeted with rich colours of autumn leaves or spring rhododendrons, of tall pine forests, green and glistening in the monsoon rains, or ghostly and reflective in winter.

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Custom

The traditional dress of Bhutan is one of the most distinctive and visible aspects of Bhutan. It is compulsory for all Bhutanese to wear national dress in schools, government offices and formal occasions. Every inhabitant of the country wears the distinctive national dress that is finely hand-woven from multicolored, vibrant hued wool, cotton or silk. Men's attire is called "gho", which is knee length traditional hand-woven robe. Women wear a longer; ankle length robe called "kira" and this is also made from fine, hand woven fabric, with the pattern usually being distinctive to a particular valley of area. The form of dress is common to all strata of society. For formal occasions, including a visit to the Dzong requires a scarf called "Kabney" that identifies a person's rank. In dzongs and on formal occasions, a Dasho or someone in authority carries a long sword called a Patang.

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Architecture

The traditional architecture of the kingdom of Bhutan is associated with a number of clear-cut architectural concepts and building types that are deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism: majestic and strategically positioned fortress monasteries [dzong], dramatically located temples [lhakhang] and monasteries [gompa], picturesque clusters of village farm houses [gung chim], and various types of religious and votive structures such as Buddhists stupas [chorten], prayer walls [mani], different types of spirit houses [lukhang and Tsenkang] and the technical genius of its cantilever and chain bridges [zam].

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Events and Festivals of Bhutan

There are many festivals held at different locations at different times of the year. The best known of the festivals are "Tshechus" which are celebrated in honour of Guru Padmasambhava commemorating his great deeds. Popularly known as "Guru Rimpoche". Rhis Indian saint contributed enormously to the diffusion of Tantric Buddhism in the Himalayan region of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan around 800 AD.

Guru Padmasambhava is founder of the Nyingmapa, the old school of Lamaism, which still has numerous followers. The biography of Guru is highlighted by 12 episodes on the model of Buddha Shakyamuni's life.

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