At a glance
Bhutan (Druk yul) Population: 7,00,000 (1996)
Capital : Thimpu
Location : Bhutan lies between 890 and 920 E and 270 and 280 N
Time : 30 minutes ahead of Indian Standard Time. 6 hours ahead of GMT
Language : Dzongkha
People : There are two main population groups in Bhutan: the Drukpa (67% of Tibetan and Monpa origin) and
Lhotsampa (30% of Nepalese origin).
The rest 3% comprise of indigenous tribal groups
Such as Toktop, Doya and Lepcha of SW Bhutan
Wearing a veil for centuries in the misty serenity of the great Himalayas, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, or Bhutan, as now known to the rest of the world, developed its own distinct civilization. This deeply spiritual land is home to a unique identity, derived essentially from a fertile religious and cultural heritage. Bhutan brims with myth and legend. As a befitting testimony, a great Buddhist heritage of over 2000 monasteries and 10,000 monuments dot its peaceful open space and regal mountains. An ambience of near sacred tranquility permeates the land, fostering an environment of spiritual affluence that has shaped the foundation of that rarity that we know as Bhutanese life. The Bhutanese have deliberately and zealously safeguarded and preserved their rich culture and traditions, its ancient way of life, in all its aspects. And it is perhaps one of the world’s last strongholds of unspoiled wilderness. It is a part of the earth that represents a fabled realm.
First off there are the early Buddhist sites in the cultural heartland of Bumthang Dzongkhag and the undisturbed traditional Tibetan-style culture that sets Bhutan aside as the last remaining great Himalayan kingdom. Then there are the textiles, outrageous trekking as well as the stunning flora and fauna of Phobjika Valley. Trashigang is an interesting town and also useful for launching into a trip in Eastern Bhutan.
Bhutan is a land where the past and the contemporary co-exist in harmony, a recipe that makes a journey undeniably amazing. A trip through Bhutan, in many ways, is still a journey into the past. In this small tract of land, one of the most rugged terrains in the world frames one of the world’s richest vegetations. It is a land of about 700,000 people who believe that Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product. Bhutan is a country with a different face. And a different story to tell.
It is also a country of surprises. This is not just a nation of saintly, other-worldly hermits. Bhutan is straddling the ancient and modern world and these days you’ll find monks transcribing ancient Buddhist texts into computers as traditionally dressed noblemen chat on their mobile phones.
If you do visit Bhutan, you will become one of the few who have experienced the charm and magic of one of the world’s most enigmatic countries – the ‘last Shangri La’ – and you’ll be playing your part in this medieval kingdom’s efforts to join the modern world, while steadfastly maintaining its distinct and amazing cultural identity. So why spend all your money to come here? Because most of all, Bhutan offers an opportunity to glimpse another way of living, an alternative vision of what is truly important in life.
Bhutan’s climate is as varied as its altitudes and, like most of Asia, is affected by monsoons. Western Bhutan is particularly affected by monsoons that bring between 60 and 90 percent of the region’s rainfall. The climate is humid and subtropical in the southern plains and foothills, temperate in the inner Himalayan valleys of the southern and central regions, and cold in the north, with year-round snow on the main Himalayan summits.
Temperatures vary according to elevation. Temperatures in Thimphu, located at 2,200 meters above sea level in west-central Bhutan, range from approximately 15Â° C to 26Â° C during the monsoon season of June through September but drop to between about -4Â° C and 16Â° C in January. Most of the central portion of the country experiences a cool, temperate climate year-round. In the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15Â° C and 30Â° C year-round, although temperatures sometimes reach 40Â° C in the valleys during the summer.
Annual precipitation ranges widely in various parts of the country. In the severe climate of the north, there is only about forty millimeters of annual precipitation–primarily snow. In the temperate central regions, a yearly average of around 1,000 millimeters is more common, and 7,800 millimeters per year has been registered at some locations in the humid, subtropical south, ensuring the thick tropical forest, or savanna. Thimphu experiences dry winter months (December through February) and almost no precipitation until March, when rainfall averages 20 millimeters a month and increases steadily thereafter to a high of 220 millimeters in August for a total annual rainfall of nearly 650 millimeters.
The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate at the highest elevations. Most peaks in the north are over 7,000 m above sea level; the highest point is the Kula Kangri, at 7,553 m, and Gangkhar Puensum, at 7,541 m, has the distinction of being the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. Watered by snow-fed rivers, alpine valleys in this region provide pasture for livestock, tended by a sparse population of migratory shepherds. The Black Mountains in central Bhutan form a watershed between two major river systems: the Puna Tshang Chhu and the Drangme Chhu. Peaks in the Black Mountains range between 1,500 m and 2,700 m above sea level, and fast-flowing rivers have carved out deep gorges in the lower mountain areas. Woodlands of the central region provide most of Bhutan’s forest production. The Kuri Chu, Mangdi Chu, Drangme Chu, Puna Tsang Chu and Amo Chu are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region. Most of the population lives in the central highlands.
In the south, the Southern foot Hills are covered with dense, deciduous forests, alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to around 1,500 m above sea level. The foothills descend into the subtropical Duars plain. Most of the Duars is located in India, although a 10â€“15 km wide strip extends into Bhutan. The Bhutan Duars is divided into two parts: the northern and the southern Duars. The northern Duars, which abuts the Himalayan foothills, has rugged, sloping terrain and dry, porous soil with dense vegetation and abundant wildlife. The southern Duars has moderately fertile soil, heavy savannah grass, dense, mixed jungle, and freshwater springs. Mountain rivers, fed by either the melting snow or the monsoon rains, empty into the Brahmaputra river in India. Over 70% of Bhutan is forested. The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters.