"The first country to adopt happiness as an official goal of public policy is the tiny little country of Bhutan in Asia near China and India." Author: Derek Bok
It close to four hundred years since the fourth king of Bhutan came up with the concept of gross national happiness. Bhutan is also called as “Land Of The Thunder Dragon”, is located in South Asia, and is landlocked between India, Tibet, China, and Nepal. Instead of measuring the country’s GDP, the government measures it on a metric called as Gross National Happiness Index focusing on good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation.
Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is an amply modern country yet medieval with one foot still rooted in its past. The government’s ‘high value-low volume’ tourism policy is therefore a good example of its efforts to keep foreign influences at bay while nurturing Bhutanese values at home. The charms of this isolated Himalayan Kingdom are knitted strong within its cultural realms.
Wildlife in Bhutan
Valley of the Black-necked Crane, is an amazing place to visit for those interested in bird-watching and nature. Not only is this place unique for its endless flat fields of bamboo shrubs and inspiring mountains, but because it is home to the Black-necked Crane, one of the rarest species of crane in the world.
It’s not hard to spot them, their bright white bodies contrasting with their black heads and tails, sticking out against the light green and yellow grasses. The birds strut and glide gracefully, and are truly mesmerizing to watch. Interestingly they’re known as “birds of heaven” and are said to be attracted to holy places.
Preservation Of Cultural Heritage
The four pillars of the Gross National Happiness Index is the preservation of heritage, which you’ll experience over and over again on your trip. Even in Thimphu, the capital and largest city in Bhutan, places like the Folk Heritage Museum to explore a traditional 19th-century house, the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre to see local women weaving garments using a backstrap loom, and the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory to see the traditional art of paper making.
It is a country where everywhere your sight can reach, all you see is lush green mountains. It is also the last great Himalayan kingdom, engulfed in traditional Buddhist culture. Taking up prime positions in this wallpaper-like landscape are the majestic fortress-like dzongs and monasteries. There is this amazing Himalayan landscape, where snow-capped peaks rise above narrow gorges cloaked in coniferous forests.
Other tourist attractions
Thimpu has one of the largest statues of Buddha made of bronze and gilded in gold towering over Thimpu in Bhutan and the National Memorial Chorten nearby, where Buddhists circle clockwise while reciting prayers and whirling prayer wheels. The there is the Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang), which is a beautiful monastery located in the cliff-side of the upper Paro valley, in Bhutan. Punakha Dzong, Zuri Dzong Hike, Gangtey Valley and Bumthang Valley are some other breathtaking destinations in Bhutan.
Love for Chillies
This is a country where the rice is red and the chillies aren't just for seasoning but the main dish. Chilies are not only a big part of Bhutanese cuisine; they are also a big part of Bhutanese culture, tradition, and life. Bhutanese for sure have pride for their dish called Ema datshi, a spicy curry made with large, green chilies in a cheesy sauce, which is a must try for everyone visiting this country. Their national dish, Ema Datshi, is a fiery blend of green chillies smothered in cheese.
Buddhism in Bhutan is not a religion; it’s a way of life. The reason why Bhutan is as peaceful as it is maybe because Buddhism is deeply engrained in the society mentality.
Interesting Trivia: The locals don’t know their birthdays. Everyone celebrates their birthday on January 1 “Because it’s easier for census forms.”