The Kingdom of Bhutan is a country located in South Asia. The human history of Bhutan dates back to around 2000 BC, with archaeological evidence of the indigenous people of the region. Buddhism is closely tied to Bhutan's history and politics as the nation was shaped over time. Buddhism reached Bhutan around the 7th century, with the conversion of the king of Tibet, Songtsan Gampo, who ruled from 627 to 649. Songtsan Gampo converted to Buddhism and soon established temples in Bhutan. The tradition was continued by the following rulers.
Up through the 16th century, the region was unorganized and divided into small fiefdoms. The region was unified once Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal emerged as a leader, forming a centralized Bhutan and fortifying it against the Tibetans. In the early 1700s, Bhutan fought conflicts with the Mughal Empire and then the Tibetans, and the southern kingdom of Cooch Behar. The latter involved the British East India Company in the conflicts, resulting in a period of war with British India, ending with the Treaty of Sinchulu in 1865. Then followed civil wars in the 1870s and 1880s, until Ugyen Wangchuck became monarch, and formed an alliance with Britain, making Bhutan a princely state of India. Upon India's independence, Bhutan signed a new alliance directly with India, who remained responsible for Bhutan's foreign relations.
Bhutan shares borders with China and India, and is separated from Nepal and Bangladesh by a short distance, with India in between.
- Thimphu (capital)
- Samdrup Jongkar
Bhutan is situated in the eastern Himalayas, and features many high peaks with elevations around 7,000 meters (23,000 feet), as well as valleys with rivers flowing through their deep trenches. Many of the highest mountains in Bhutan are glaciated and have cold, harsh conditions. The nation is entirely landlocked, but its rivers are fed by the glaciers, with major systems including Mo Chhu, Drangme Chhu, Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, and Manas. Forests cover much of the lower mountains, and the Duars in the south are covered in foothills and grassy plains.
Points of Interest
Bhutan features many scenic destinations, including its villages and cities, which are home to Buddhist sites of religious and historical importance. One of these such sites is the Taktsang Monastery. The Buddhist style fortress, known as a dzong, can still be found in several cities in Bhutan, including the country's largest one in Trongsa.
In terms of natural sites, a few national parks top the list for places to visit. Jigme Dorji National Park, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Royal Manas National Park, and Thrumshingla National Park are good places to experience the natural beauty of Bhutan, including scenic landscapes and native plant and animal species, like the Himalayan black bear and red panda. For more experiences with local wildlife, there are several wildlife reserves around the country, including Bomdeling and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Most travelers from outside of Bhutan arrive via Paro Airport, which is the only international airport in the country. Transportation within the country is limited, as there are limited options for domestic airports, though another option is to fly into Bagdogra Airport in the neighboring state of India. Since there is no railway system in Bhutan, tourists can travel by car (with special permits) or by bus, which is one of the best options. Taxis are also available in some areas and even hitchhiking is a frequent occurrence.
Last Updated : February 25, 2020