Bhutan is a country of simple but extraordinary dimensions and a haven of Buddhist peace, far from the noise and bustle of the great cities. Believed to be watched over by the Raven which is the guardian deity of Bhutan, it is the embodiment of the last Shangri-la, a final refuge for the mystical wisdom of Buddhism and paragon of spiritual happiness. This history bears testimony to the case that a small nation state of less than a million can be successful in every sense of the word and can evolve from theocracy to absolute monarchy to democracy without any form of turmoil or anarchy. This is a country where the rare institution of monarchy, surrounded by its aura of exclusiveness and the unmistakable stamp of the grace and dignity of the sovereigns of the Wangchuck dynasty are very much alive.
Nature in all its grandeur and unspoiled virginity is still extant in Bhutan. The landscape is almost comparable to that of Switzerland though as far as economy is concerned Bhutan is a rather poor country. But this is hardly a concern for the Bhutanese people as they consider seeking a harmony between man and nature to be of greater importance, an approach which permeates their whole existence.
This is the kingdom of the Thunder Dragon, a dragon which does not spit fire but symbolizes the peaceful aspect of the country and its people instead. This is a kingdom where hidden spiritual treasures are discovered, rivers and forests are the abode of various spirits, people strongly believe in reincarnation, the dead are cremated, tigers have nests and everything ranging from black-necked cranes to tigresses are believed to fly.
All are bound to be mesmerized by the grand vistas and the fresh waft of clean, mountain air that greet them upon arrival in Paro (the only operational airport as of now) after having been through the rickety landing which the Druk-Air is so famous for. Bhutan is a combination of kindly people with no dearth of smiles showcasing their doma stained teeth, unique customs and traditions which have survived the onslaught of modernization and the yet under-recognized development concept of Gross National Happiness – a concept which seeks to balance materialism with spirituality to teach people to be happy and content with what they have. It is a codified concept which dictates that development in Bhutan does not consist of demographic expansion alone. Travellers who are privileged to visit this fascinating country will find that it is in many ways unique in today’s world.