1GlimpseBhutan at Glimpse
|Land Area||38,394 square kilometres|
|Green Area||70% forest cover|
|Altitude||Between 180m. To 7,550m.above sea level|
|Local time||6hrs. ahead of GMT|
|Capital||Thimphu (named after the rock into which the guardian protector, Genyen, immersed himself)|
|Currency||Ngultrum at par with the Indian rupee.|
Hidden deep in the folds of the great Himalaya Mountain, lies a small Asian country called Bhutan. It is a small land- locked country with a population of about 700,000. It became constitutional democracy in 2008 with 47 constitutions. His Majesty, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the fifth hereditary king of Bhutan. People in Bhutan live in close harmony with nature, evolved a unique identity, and derived largely from a rich religious and cultural heritage. Today the world is seeing many exotic aspects of this kingdom Bhutan is becoming increasingly known for its pure practice of Mahayana Buddhism in the tantric form, its untouched culture, its pristine ecology and wildlife, and the unparallel scenic beauty of its majestic peaks and lush valleys, In the eighth century Guru Padmasambhava established several sacred religious sites which are important place of pilgrimage for the Buddhist world today. Over the years many other saints and religious figures helped shape Bhutan’s history and develop its religion. It raises from180m above sea level along its borders with India in the south to its 7,550m snow-clad Himalayan peak on its northern border with Tibet, China. The capital city of Bhutan is Thimphu. Bhutan is known for world’s youngest democracy. The national language is Dzongkha while English is spoken as an official language and medium of instruction in schools.
Bhutan is a country where GNH is valued more than GDP and ensures that all the people are happy. Bhutan opened its door to the world after becoming the member of United Nations Organization (UNO) in 1971. It started the exchange of tourists in 1974 with the opening tourism Industry in Bhutan. Taking pride in being one of the biological hot spot, Bhutan tries to maintain 70% forest cover. Bhutan is home for a wide range of flora and fauna with species of birds including the rare black-necked crane and the white bellied heron and species of mammals including the rare snow leopard, Golden Langor, tigers, Rhinoceros and Elephants.
The rectangular national flag is divided diagonally with a roaring white dragon unifying the two parts. The upper yellow half of the flag signifies secular power and authority of the king. The lower half of the flag is orange, representing the religion and power of Buddhism and spiritual essence. The dragon signifies the thunder dragon after which the country is named. Its white colour represents purity and the jewels it holds in its claws represents the country’s wealth. The snarling mouth of the dragon expresses the strength of the male and female deities that protect and safeguard the kingdom.
The national emblem of Bhutan is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, framed by two dragons, and crowned by a jewel. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between the secular and religious power and the two dragons (male and female) stands for the name of the country “Druk Yuel” or the land of thunder Dragon. The lotus symbolizes purity and the jewel symbolizes sovereign power.
The national anthem was first composed in 1953 and became official in 1966. In the Thunder Dragon Country adorned with sandalwood, The protector who guards the teachings of the dual system, He, the precious and glorious ruler, causes dominion to spread, While his unchanging person abides in constancy,?As the doctrine of the Lord Buddha flourishes,?May the sun and peace of happiness shine on the people.
6GNHGross National Happiness (GNH)
Bhutan is one of the countries which pursue happiness as the goal of development rather than limitless economic growth in a world with limited natural resources. Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the philosophy which is founded on 4 pillars of societal progress. It was coined by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo king Jigme Singye Wangchuk with the four pillars:
-   1) Sustainable and equitable social economic development.
-   2) Conservation of environment.
-   3) Preservation and promotion of cultural and tradition, and
-   4) Enhancement of good Governance.
Festival Tours are planned to coincide with the annual “Tsechus” or cultural activities. These are mainly celebrations of religious or historical events. They can also be occasions to revitalize or commemorate myths, legends and superstitions that still abound and influence life in this land where the real the supernatural abide in harmony. During the Tsechus, the Thankas are exhibited to the folks gathered.
Tsechus normally are held for duration of three days and are spectator oriented with monks and lay people taking turns to perform dances in flowing silken robes and brocades to the beat and tune of pulsating music. The dancers wear an endless array of masks representing real and mythical animals or gods and goddess as well as demons. The musical instruments include pipes, long horns of silver or copper, drums and cymbals of all sizes and sound. Folk dances are also performed by men and women without masks. Tsechus brings people from all walks of life together in a joyous and festive environment. People come dressed in their best attire to celebrate and to be reminded of the ultimate triumph of good over evil and the impermanence of life. What is particularly delightful is the evidence of the integrity of the extended family network that is to be seen in the multigenerational families who come and sit together and enjoy the day with deep affection, understanding, respect and care for each other. Tshechus are mainly to convey Buddhism to people which is believed to be helpful after death.
8IntoGetting into Bhutan
Entry by Air: Druk Air, Bhutan’s international airport is located in Paro at a height of 2,225m (7300ft) above sea level. Druk Air and Bhutan Air line are the two operating flights into and around the country. There are flights to and from Bangkok in Thailand, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bodh Gaya, Guwahati in India; Dhaka in Bangladesh; Kathmandu in Nepal; and Singapore. Druk Air also has regular domestic service to Bumthang (central region), Trashigang (eastern region) and Gelephu (southern region). Schedules vary between seasons with extra flights available during peak tourist periods. The flight details of both airlines may be accessed at their respective websites: Druk Air website. & Bhutan Airlines website.
Entry by Land: The land entry points into the kingdom are through Phuentsholing on the south-western border with India, and Samdrup Jongkhar, in the south-eastern border with India. Arrival/departure through the south-western border town of Phuentsholing, south- central border town of Gelephu and the south-eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. The nearest airport to the south-western border town of Phuntsholing is at Bagdogra, West Bengal, about 4 hours drive away. Phuentsholing is a convenient entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal along with Bhutan. The nearest airport to the south-central border town of Gelephu is at Bagdogra, West Bengal, about 7 hours drive away. Gelephu can also be used as entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and the North Eastern Indian States along with Bhutan. The nearest airport to the south-eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar is at Guwahati, capital of the Indian state of Assam, about 3 hours drive away. Samdrup Jongkhar is a convenient entry/exit point for travellers wishing to visit the Indian states of Assam and other North Eastern states of India along with Bhutan.
All visitors to Bhutan require a visa. Bangladeshis, Indians, and Maldivians will receive a 6-month visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport. 3 simple steps to obtaining visa to the Dragon Kingdom are: STEP 1: Provide the following information on the visa application form:
- -Your full name as it appears in your passport.
- -Your permanent address.
- -Passport number / Date of issue / Expiration date of passport.
- -Date & Place of birth.
STEP 3: Wire transfer your full tour payment, including a visa fee of USD $40 per person. Your visa clearance will be emailed or faxed to you. You will be issued your visa upon showing your visa clearance letter at your point of entry. Visas are granted for a 15-day period. Extensions can be obtained in Thimphu at a cost of $25. For travellers entering the country by land from India, through the southern border towns of Phuentsholing/Gelephu/Samdrup Jongkhar, the actual visa is stamped on arrival. Travellers without a visa clearance document will not be permitted to enter the country.
10ContentGeneral Programme Content
All programmes are tailored to suit the needs of our guests on the basis of the following content (mix of culture and eco tourism):
- 1) Visits to sacred and ancient temples, monasteries and dzongs that gaze down from their lofty seats on mountain tops. Dzongs are massive castles that serve as both monasteries and seats of government. They are also architectural wonders and repositories of religious and cultural treasures.
- 2) Treks/pony rides to cultural heritage sites not accessible by automobiles. This may entail camping in forests and meadows.
- 3) Visits to museums, school of traditional painting and the indigenous medicine hospital.
- 4) Observation of local artisans at work and their products or enjoy a Bhutanese movie.
- 5) Witnessing of the wonder of water prayer wheels, unique to Bhutan; circumambulation of sacred stupas and temples; lighting butter-lamps in temples as you contemplate the well being of all sentient life and world peace.
- 6) Being regaled with legends and myths about the sites and structures along travel routes.
- 7) Stringing and raising wind prayer flags at high mountain passes to promote world harmony and to improve your own Karma.
- 8) Attending cultural events as and when they occur.
- 9) Experiencing the hustle and bustle of the Centennial Farmer’s Market in the capital.
- 10) Passing through scenic sites to observe Bhutan’s astonishing bio-diversity which is especially valued by the WWF -walk on a carpet of rhododendron petals in the spring; chance the sighting of rare birds and animals.
- 11) Visiting a farm or village to observe seasonal activities -be invited to a cup of traditional butter tea flavoured with salt.
- 12) Witnessing of a colour-guard ceremony to raise or lower the national flag before the Office of the King at sunrise and sunset -where the military, the lay and the monks combine to create an evocative scene.
The tourism company in Bhutan is guided and closely monitored by the Tourism Council of Bhutan whose responsibility is to ensure the effective implementation of the policy of “high quality, low impact tourism”. Under this, a minimum daily tariff for an all inclusive tour package is imposed for tourists as listed below:
- 1) Individuals travelling in a group of 3 persons or more: USD $ 200 per person per night (double occupancy) for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December. USD $ 250 per person per night (double occupancy) for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November. These rates are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan. On the day of departure, the obligation of “local agents” is limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on usage basis.
- 2) Individuals travelling alone or as a couple: The Royal Government imposes the following surcharges over and above the minimum daily package rates: i) Single individual - US$ 40 per night. ii) Group of 2 persons only - US$ 30 per person per night.
- i) 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star accommodation may require an additional charge).
- ii) Three meals and afternoon tea with snacks.
- iii) A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay.
- iv) All internal transport (excluding internal flights).
- v) Museums and heritage site passes.
- vi) Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours.
Also included are: 1) All internal taxes and charges. 2) A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65 charged by the Royal Government. N.B. Airfares, airport taxes, visa fees, excess baggage, insurance, emergency evacuation, medical and personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, beverages, etc. are not included in the daily tariff.
12ProgramSpecial Programs arranged on request & payment of actual cost
- 1) Lectures on topics of particular interest from learned Buddhist teachers and engagement in a lively discussion on the purpose and meaning of life etc.
- 2) Introduction to meditation and Buddhist practice by masters for groups or individuals.
- 3) Participation in or hosting of religious/sacred ceremonies or prayer sessions in dzongs and temples.
- 4) Meditation/retreat in monasteries or temples up to a period of one week. (Longer durations and private meditation rooms can also be arranged).
- 5) Lecture or short courses on GNH and basic skills for wellbeing and Happiness.
- 6) An evening with folk musicians and dancers over dinner; a sip of Chhang/ara to mellow the evening; a walk in the moon light, shake a leg at a disco/ local bar.
- 7) Be a Bhutanese for an evening or a day - wear Bhutanese gho or kira and join in a folk dance or take dancing lessons.
- 8) A traditional soak bath containing aromatic and therapeutic herbs. Bath water is heated by white-hot river stones selected for their mineral contents.
- 9) Yoga classes/sessions.
- 1) CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years receive free services. Those between the ages of 6-12 years enjoy 50% discount on daily rates and 100% exemption of Royalty.
- 2) Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards receive a 25% discount on daily rates.
- 3) 100% discount will be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons while one person in a group of 11 to 15 people will receive a discount of 50% on daily rates.
- 1) 1 month in advance: 0% cancellation fee.
- 2) 7-14 days in advance: 50% cancellation fee.
- 3) 7 or fewer days in advance: 100% cancellation fee.
Government regulations require that tour payments be deposited in order to enable processing of visa. Money may be transferred to the Bhutan National Bank using the following details:
|Bank Address (Correspondent Bank):||Standard Chartered Bank Ltd., One Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010-3603|
|Beneficiary Bank Account:||358-202-171-9001 (USD A/C)|
|Beneficiary Bank:||Bhutan National Bank, P.O Box 439, GPO Building, Chang Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan|
|Ultimate Beneficiary:||Account No. 0100003920014 of BHUTAN Pelgyi Senge Dorjee Tours and Treks maintained with BNB, Thimphu, Bhutan|