Bhutan

Bhutan is perhaps the most mysterious and diverse of all the Himalayan kingdoms, where for centuries a traditional Buddhist culture has thrived in isolation from the rest of the world. It is a land of contrast – with lush forested valleys, fortified monasteries, sacred mountains, art and architecture unique to the region.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country located in the eastern Himalayas between Tibet in the north and India in the south. Bhutan has a rugged and mountainous landscape with snowcapped peaks and glacier covered terrain in the north, spurs of the Himalayan peaks in the center and heavily forested foothills and subtropical plains in the south.

Bhutan has long maintained a policy of strict isolationism, both culturally and economically and as a result the Bhutanese culture is one of the oldest (dating back to the mid 17th century) and well preserved cultures in the world. In fact it has only been in the recent decades of the 20th century that foreigners have been allowed to visit the country, and only in limited numbers. Bhutan has an estimated population of 600,000 which is sparsely distributed throughout the country. There are three main ethnic groups in Bhutan; the Ngalungs (often called Drukpas) live in the north-western region and their ancestors migrated from Tibet, the Sharchops who inhabit the eastern and central region and derive from northern Burma and northeast India and lastly the Lhotshampas are the third ethnic group who live in the southern foothill districts and are of Nepali origin. The Bhutanese revere the tantric guru Padmasambhava the founder of Himalayan Buddhism in the 8th century.

Raj Bala Treks and Expeditions extensive range of touring and trekking holidays in Bhutan have been developed to offer unlimited opportunities to enjoy the warmth of the Bhutanese people, the unique cultural heritage of Bhutan as well as the stunning mountain vistas and untouched wilderness regions of Bhutan.

The fifty minutes flight from Kathmandu to Paro can truly be described as a flight into fantasy. During the flight, a first hand close up view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous peaks become a reality. Biweekly flights between these two kingdoms have made travel easier to the long isolated Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan.
It can also be accessed by air from air from Delhi, Kolkata, Dhaka and Bangkok.

FACTS ABOUT BHUTAN:
  • Area of Bhutan: 47000 Sq/Km

  • Altitude: Varying from 180m to 7,550m above sea level

  • Capital: Thimphu

  • Local time: six hours ahead of GMT and ½ hour ahead of IST (Indian standard time)

  • Forest Cover: - 72%.

  • Agricultural: - 7.8%

  • National animal: Takin – Bodorcas Taxi Color

  • National Flower: Blue Poppy, Meconopis granis

  • National Tree: Tseden, Himalyalca cypress.

  • National Bird: Raven, Coruas Coraxs

  • National Sanctuaries: 26%

  • Royal Manas Park.
  • Thimshingla National Park..
  • Phibsoo wild Life Sanctuary..
  • Bomdling wild Life Sanctuary. .
  • Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve.
  • Khaling wild Life Sanctuary.
  • Sakten wild Life sanctuary.
  • Jigme Dorji National park.
  • Black Mountain National Park (Jigme Singye).
  • The National Bird - THE RAVEN(Corvus Corax Tibetanus )

    raven11

    Local name: Jarog

    Size: 71cm (28inches ) long

    Distinctive Characters: Sexes alike. Jet blue-black color. Feathers on throat and breast are long, shiny and pointed. Massive bill, half the maxilla (upper beak) covered with bristles. Tail round.

    Habitat: Resident bird found in alpine areas and trans- himalayan regions, usually upland habitation. In severe winter, they come down to 2300 m. They feed on eerie form of vegetable or animal matter, dead or alive

    Distribution: Found in the high altitudes of Tibet, Sikkim, Ladakh and Bhutan. In Bhutan it habitats in places like: In the west (Damthang, Cherithang, Jagothang, Lingshi, chebesa), Centre (Bumthang, Dur, Pegula) East (Singye Dzong and surrounding areas.

    General Habits: Usually met in pairs, sometimes in dozens. Wild, wary and suspicious but can be bold. Carrion like vultures, feast on carcasses. Acrobatic stuns in high winds like twisting, turning, sides slipping, looping the loop, nose-diving. Clearly enjoying flying.

    Breeding: The female build the nest (often as early as February) from twigs. Moss and hair brought by the male. Generally the same nest is used for years after making necessary renovations.

    Eggs: Eggs (5-6) are incubated by the hen mostly, but occasionally relieved by the male. The young hatch after 19 – 23 days and remain in the nest for 40 – 42 days, fed by food being brought in the special throat sac of the adults. They have been observed to attack even large predators in the vicinity of their nest.

    How to differentiate between a crow and the raven: The raven can be easily confused with the large billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos), which is commonly found in Bhutan. However there are certain distinct characteristics that could help you to identify our National Bird. The raven is much larger than a crow. It has very prominent hackles (pointed feathers) on its throat and has bristles on upper beak. The tail is distinctly wedge shaped.

    The National Animal - THE TAKIN(budorcas Taxicolor)

    national-animal-takin

    Local Name: Dong Gyem Tsey (D)

    Size: Height at the shoulder 3.5 ft (110 cm)

    Distinctive Characters: Clumsy heavy animal resembling gnu and musk ox. Most striking feature is immense ‘face” heavy mouth and tremendously thick neck. Muzzle covered with Yak-like hair helps feeding in snow. Short thick legs with raised withers and narrow back arches. Variety of colours from brown to golden yellow, calves all black, females greyer with no yellow tinge. Horns grow outwards then downwards.

    Distribution: The Mishmi hills and in the mountains of the Salween –Irrawady divide. In Bhutan, Gasa (near khonine), Pemala (Pemaling) in tyrashi Yangtse District.

    Habitat: Lives in the steepest and most thickly wooded declivities of native mountains. Usually found in dense bamboo/rhododendron groves at elevations between 7000 and 10000 ft (2135 – 3050 m) In summer, they form large herds (up to 300 at a time). Goes into cover at midday and comes out late afternoon.

    The National Flower- -THE BLUE POPPY(Mecanopsis grandis)

    national-flower

    Local Name: Euitpel metog heom

    Colour: Blue or tinged purple

    Distinctive characters: Gregarious polycarpic plant, with flowers borne either from axis of uppermost leaves of erect stem to 1.5 m or on long stalks directly from basal leaves. Leaves oblanceolate to oblong – elliptic, coarsely toothed, red – bristly, leaf stalks sheating at basa. Uppermost leaves forming a false whorl from which the large blue or purple flowers arise. Petals usually 4 (sometimes to 9, rounded, to 7 cm.

    Distribution: On rocky mountain terrain above the tree line (3500 – 4000 m ) In Bhutan – Orkha la ( Trashigang), yelela ( Thimphu ) and Mela ( Trashi yangtse )

    Flowering season: Late May to july.

    Uses: Seeds yield drying oil.

    The National Tree - THE WEEPING HIMALAYAN CYPRESS
    ( Cupresses corneyana )

    national-tree

    Local name: Tseden (D)

    Size: Can grow as high as 45 m.

    Distinctive Characters: Slightly conical with a broad base and tapering top. When old, it is a tall impressive tree. It has green leaves all the year round. Compared to other trees, its leaves do not resemble needles. Its leaves are narrow, thick and leathery. Drooping leaves make tree look graceful. Trunk erect and ridge with grayish brown bark which flake of in short, thin strips. Life span of centuries.

    Distribution: It grows naturally in Bhutan between 2500 – 3000 m but it is also planted at lower altitudes. It grows well on steep limestone areas and is occasionally found in our forests ( Pho - Chu valley north east of Punakha and on the west sloprs of Pelela ) Plantations of Cyprus can also be seen between Dochula and wendeygang and at Taba.

    Uses: The timber is good for construction and is preferred for temples. Wood and braches are burnt as incense. According to legend, the tree at Kurjey, Bumthang, is believed to have grown from Guru Padmasambhava’s walking stick.