It is said that you have to come to Bhutan to know that the sky could be so blue. A country, which is as small as Belgium, has a heart big enough to accommodate all the joys of nature. While Bhutan takes happiness seriously, the rest of the world looks at it with admiration (and a tincture of envy). This 'Hidden Kingdom' never ceases to throw surprises at visitors with its nature's prowess and a distinct culture.
Here are some carefully curated facts about Bhutan that you may not have heard before.
#1. One of the Most Difficult Monasteries to Access
Paro Taktsang is easily one of the highest monasteries in the world as it proudly sits about 3,048 meter (10,000 ft.) above sea level. For locals, it's a pilgrimage to climb the steep trail. For travelers, it's a test of physical agility as the uphill and downhill trek take more than three hours to complete. The sight of this Tiger's Nest monastery hanging from the granite cliffs is beautiful.
#2. A National Flower That's Very Rare
No one would have known about the rarity of Blue Poppy had it not been declared the national flower of Bhutan. In fact, it was thought as a myth for several years because it was rarely spotted. Not only does the plant grow in very high altitudes (3,000 meter to 5,000 meter) but it also takes several years to bloom for a very short span of time before wilting. If luck smiles on you, you can spot them between the end of May and July.
#3. A National Animal That's Weird
Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, is not just rare but it's a very unusual cross between goat and cow.
Its face is a curious blend of these two animals and so is its height. You not only find them in Jigme Dorji National Park but also in other parts of Bhutan and northeast India.
#4. Penis Painted on Walls of Bhutanese Homes
If you are in Iceland, you can visit the museum that's entirely dedicated to penis, but when you are Bhutan, almost every third house you see has penis painted on its walls. In this Himalayan nation, an erect penis symbolizes the power to drive away the evil eye. The concept of decorating houses with phallic symbols has its origin between 15th and 16th century.
#5. Highest Unclimbed Mountain in the World
Yes, this bit of information comes as a real surprise for many. Gangkar Puensum, which stands at a height of 24,836 feet, is undoubtedly the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. However, that's no reason for climbers to get excited. As the areas above 18,00 ft have been declared sacred by the Bhutanese government, mountaineering is prohibited in that zone.
#6. Postal Stamps That Visitors Can Create
It's known to the world that some of the most intricately designed postal stamps are made in Bhutan. What many of you may not know is that even visitors can contribute to the tradition of creating new stamps with their photos on them. National Post Office in Thimphu is the place to get featured on the Bhutanese stamps.
#7. Festival Dedicated to Black-necked Cranes
Every winter, the residents of Phobjikha Valley rejoice at the arrival of the majestic Black-necked Cranes. Between November and January, hundreds of birds fly from Tibet to add splendor to this beautiful valley. The courtyard of Gangtey Monastery hosts different crane-themed performances to keep jollity alive.