Bhutan - Tales from The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

16th Apr 2014

In the Himalayan country where the king said, will be happy if my subjects will be happy. And this must also begin this story about Bhutan. Why visit this small kingdom nestled in the Himalayas, which itself means entering a fairy tale. And so the king concentrated all his political action to make his subjects happy.

A trip to Bhutan is therefore above all a great opportunity to closely observe a way of life different from ours and one way of addressing the existence for us perhaps difficult to practice, but who knows how to be at serenity and peace and regret once back at home. There's more, though.

Bhutan is a beautiful country even from the landscape and cultural point of view amidst the Himalayan peaks, small towns, the villages, the dzong (fortress-citadels) and monasteries. Among the latter the most spectacular is definitely the Taktshang Goemba, the Lair of the Tiger.

Perched on a cliff 900 meters from the valley floor, we reach the top by walking for a few hours. According to legend, Guru Rimpoche came there riding on a tiger to subdue the demon of the area and anchored to the cliff with the hair of dakinis, female celestial entities. It’s really an extraordinary place that emanates both for the mysticism and position.

In addition to temples, we visit the Dzong, the most distinctive architectural feature of the Bhutanese landscape. They are currently administrative centres of various districts and monasteries together and in short, the focus of the secular and religious authorities. Paro’s is one of the most important and famous. Its massive walls dominate the town and are visible from anywhere in the valley.

Thimphu instead houses the throne room and the one in Punakha is perhaps the most beautiful of the country. The added value of these Dzong is that all the Bhutanese people to access them should wear the traditional costume, which is the gho for men and kira for women, which are tunics in bright colours tied at the waist with a belt.

We attend a Archery contest, the national sport of the country and is practiced wherever there is sufficient space. In the valleys are still used wooden arches. The women attend the sides of the field in traditional dress cheering their choices.

In Thimphu, we visit the Motithang Takin Preserve to watch closely the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, which is both due to its unique characteristics and for the role it played in the local mythology.

Then we visit the weekend market in Thimphu where they sell local food. Among the most popular are red rice, ferns and tons of chilli, which here is not a condiment, but a real spicy dish.

We were also lucky to see the Tsechu (festival) in the courtyards of the monasteries or dzong. They are social events, during which the solemnity accompanies the climate of the village festival. They draw pilgrims from all over the country because it is considered a good omen to participate. For us it is a way to get closer to Buddhism.

We watch the Cham, the ritual dances with masks, amidst people watching in their traditional dresses.

We hike in Phobjika Valley to experience the more rural atmosphere of Bhutan. In the midst of cultivated fields and pretty peasant houses, adorned with paintings of fouls, which is considered a lucky charm in the whole country, we walk the trails, an experience to be cherished forever.

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