Bhutan | Climate of Bhutan | Capital of Bhutan

Bhutan is a small landlocked country located in South Asia. It covers an area of 38,394 square Kilometres. It is located in the part of the Eastern Himalayas. Therefore, it is also called the last great Himalayan kingdom. Bhutan is not an ordinary country. It has a rich and glorious history. Bhutan has never been colonized. Bhutan, officially known as, the kingdom of Bhutan, is bordered by Tibet in the north, Chumbi Valley (Tibet), Indian states Sikkim and West Bengal in the west, and Indian states Assam, West Bengal, and Arunachal Pradesh in the south and east.

The Bhutanese name for this mysterious country is “Druk Yul” which means “the Land of Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan is a tiny and remote kingdom.  Bhutan was in complete isolation until the 1970s. Bhutan was governed by the Wangchuck dynasty since 1907. Bhutan became a democratic nation since 2008. Currently, Bhutan has a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.

Etymological Meaning of Bhutan

There is no authentic detail about the etymology of “Bhutan”. However, many people believe that it is derived from the Tibetan word “Bod” for “Tibet”. Some people even agree that it is derived from the Sanskrit words “Bhota” and “Anta”. Where “Bhota” signifies for “Tibet” and “Anta” refers to  “End”. On that note, Bhutan means” the end of Tibet”. The definition is relevant to many extents because Bhutan is located in the southern extremity of the Tibetan Plateau.

Physical Features of Bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked country located between the two powerful nations; China and India. Broadly, the landform of Bhutan can be divided into three distinct geographical regions from north to south. They are Great Himalayas, Lesser Himalayas, and Duars. 

The northern part of Bhutan lies in the Great Himalayas. The elevation of the land dramatically increases up to 7,300 m above sea level. This Region of Bhutan is dominated by high mountain valleys and several alpine pastures. Towards the north of the Great Himalayas, there are several marginal mountains of the Tibetan plateau. This region generally experiences a cold and dry climate.

Lesser Himalayas, which is also known as the inner Himalayas lies towards the south of the Great Himalayas. This region experiences moderate rainfall and lush vegetation. This region has broad and flat valleys. Some of the parts of this region even receive abundant rainfall.  This region of Bhutan is fairly well populated and cultivated than other regions. Some of the popular valleys of the Lesser Himalayas are Paro, Punakha, Thimpu, Ha, etc.

Duars is another geographical region of Bhutan. This region lies to the south of Lesser Himalayas and extends up to the southern border of Bhutan. This is the most fertile part of Bhutan. This narrow valley just starts from the foot of the lopes of the hills. This region of Bhutan receives heavy rainfall and experiences a hot and humid climate.

Climate of Bhutan

Bhutan experiences a wide range of climates irrespective of its small territory. You would find such an incredible climatic diversity nowhere on the planet. One major reason behind such climatic variation is its altitude. The altitude of Bhutan rises unsteadily.

The climate of Bhutan ranges from subtropical climate to high alpine mountain/tundra climate. Southern Bhutan (Duars Plains) experiences a hot and humid (Subtropical) climate. This region experiences the same climate almost throughout the year. The central part of the country (Lesser Himalayas) experiences a moderate climate. This region is dominated by temperate and deciduous forests. Lesser Himalayas experience warm summer and cool and dry winters. The northern part of Bhutan experiences Alpine/tundra climate.

This region experiences cold and dry winter and the short summers are a little warmer. 

Interesting Facts about Bhutan

  • Bhutan has the most dangerous roads in the world.
  • You can’t smoke or buy cigarettes in Bhutan.
  • Plastic bags are banned in Bhutan.
  • Bhutanese prefer happiness over wealth. Only Denmark is ahead in Gross National Happiness than Bhutan.
  • It is mandatory to wear the national dress in Bhutan.
  • The country was isolated from the outside world until the 1970s.
  • Bhutan is a mountainous country but mountaineering is not allowed here.
  • Bhutan has never been conquered.
  • There are no traffic lights in Bhutan.
  • Internet and TV arrived in Bhutan only in 1999/2001.
  • No animals are killed in Bhutan. Being the Buddhist Kingdom, no animals are slaughtered there. However, they consume a lot of meat.

Major Attractions of Bhutan

Himalayan kingdom Bhutan holds many surprises. The country is so rewarding, so natural, so spiritual. Bhutanese love nature against their economy. They are never ready to damage nature for their economic benefits. Besides that, old traditions and customs are carefully preserved here. Because of the pristine nature and harmonious society, Bhutan has become a bustling hub for tourism. Being a unique country, both environmentally and culturally, Bhutan offers many places to visit.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Tiger Nest Monastery at Paro
Tiger Nest Monastery at Paro

Tiger’s Nest Monastery hangs on a cliff. It is located in the upper Paro Valley. It is one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage in the country. It has become one of the dominant symbols of Bhutan as well. It is 900 off of the vertical cliff. It is famous for its stunning location and beauty. It is believed that Guru Rimpoche meditated here. It is the center of the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan.

Punakha Dzong

It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. It is also the administrative center of the Punakha district. It is famous for its grand and majestic structure. Punakha Dzong was the seat of the Government until 1961 when Thimpu was declared a new capital of the country. Many people consider Punakha Dzong as the Palace of complete bliss and happiness.

Cheli La Pass

It is the highest mountain pass in Bhutan. It connects Paro and Haa valleys. This pass has an altitude of 3,780 m. This pass is famous for the stunning panoramas. It is the only motorable pass which is also famous for the one who wants to enjoy driving off the winding roads above the hill.

Dochula Pass

Bhutan Sightseeing Tour | Thimpu National Museum Chhorten.

It is very famous among the tourists for the magnificent panoramas of the Himalayas. It is also famous for 108 Chortens. This pass brings one between Thimpu and Punakha. It offers 360-degree panoramas. Besides that, the pass is famous for the spiritual richness of Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Temple.

Jigme Dorge National Park

This is very beautiful as well as the famous destination to witness undisturbed wilderness. This park was established in 1974. It covers an area of 4300 square kilometers. It preserves 37 endangered species including the clouded leopard, snow leopard, takin, Bengal tiger, Himalayan Blue sheep, Himalayan black Beer, black musk deer, red panda, etc. This national park is also famous for cultural sites.

Rinpung Dzong

Rinpung Dzong is a very famous Buddhist monastery and fortress of Bhutan. It is also known as Paro Dzong. It is famous for Bhutanese Architecture. It is a complex of the courtyards, temples, and offices along with an accommodation area. This Dzong is the finest example of Buddhist architecture in Bhutan and has been listed as the top attraction of Bhutan.

Phobjikha Valley

Phobjika Valley is a U shaped glacial valley located in Central Bhutan. The valley houses the impressive ancient Buddhist monasteries. Moreover, it is the heaven of the bird watchers. This valley borders the Jigme Syngye Wangchuk National Park. The major attraction of the valley is the black-necked cranes. In addition to the cranes, there are barking deers, wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, leopards, and red foxes. The valley is picturesque as well as peaceful.the valley is also popular among the travelers for Gangtey Monastery.

Haa Valley

Haa Valley is a beautiful village that provides a total glimpse of Bhutan. It is an amazing place to witness the real beauty of Bhutan. The valley also preserves some ancient temples and fortresses. Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo, popularly known as White and Black Temple are located here. Similarly, Shekhar Dark- a unique temple, Tagchu Goemba- a 100 years old temple, and Dobji Dzong-a five-storeyed fortress are the major attractions of the valley.

Hidden Valleys of Bumthang

Bumthang Valley is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. It is full of the most ancient and precious Buddhist sites. It is located at an altitude of 2,600 meters. Bumthang Valley is the religious hub of Bhutan which houses some of the oldest Buddhist temples. Besides, Jakar is the main town in Bumthang Valley and its undulating terrain, which is filled with apple trees and numerous temples, is a tourist’s delight.







Bhutan People 

Himalayan Kingdom Bhutan is the second least populated country in South Asia. For your kind information, let me tell you the Maldives is the least populated country in the region. The population of Bhutan comprises the unique blend of ethnic varieties. There are many ethnic groups. The people of Bhutan are broadly divided into four main ethnic groups. “Ngalop” is the politically and culturally dominant ethnic group. This ethnic group of people dominantly reside around the western and northern parts of the country. “Sharchop” is another dominant ethnic group of Bhutan especially concentrated over the eastern region. In addition to this, the southern region of Bhutan is the popular region of “Lhotshampa” ethnic group. The small villages all over the country are occupied by the Bhutanese tribal and aboriginal people. Similarly, many Tibetan refugees are also residing in Bhuta. Nevertheless, none of the ethnic group constitutes the majority of the total population of Bhutan.

Himalayan Kingdom Bhutan

Ngalop:

Ngalop is the people of Tibetan origin who migrated to Bhutan as early as the ninth century. According to the folklore and etymology, Ngalop means” early risen”. They are referred to as “Bhote”, the people of Bhot/Tibet. They were the first to introduce Tibetan culture and Buddhism in Bhutan. They are culturally and politically dominant people. Their language “Dzongkha” is also the national language of Bhutan.

Sharchop:

Sharchop is also known as the easterners. They are the mixed blood of Tibetan, South Asian, and Southeast Asian Descents. Sharchop is one of the biggest ethnic groups in Bhutan and in many ways they have been assimilated with the Tibetan Ngalop culture. Most of these people speak “Tshangla”, a Tibetan Burman language. Some people even speak Assamese or Hindi because of their proximity to the Indian state Assam.

Lhotshampa:

This ethnic group of people is generally classified as Hindus. However, many groups under this ethnic group like Tamangs and Gurungs are broadly Buddhist and Rai and Limbu are the followers of Kirant. Traditionally, they are involved in agriculture. They celebrate “Dashain” and “Tihar”.

Indigenous and Tribal groups:

There are many small indigenous and tribal groups living in the small and scattered villages all over the country. They are culturally and linguistically the people of Assam and West Bengal, India. The majority of these people include Brokpa, Lepcha, Doya tribes as well as the descendants of the Tibetan slaves who were brought from the same region. They practice Hinduism. Their subsistence is largely based on agriculture. Togetherly, the Nagalop, the Sharchop, and Tribal group constitute almost 75% of the total population of Bhutan.

Bhutan Religion

Bhutan is rich in culture and cultural practices. About three-fourths of Bhutan’s population follows Buddhism. The Buddhism practiced by the Bhutanese is primarily of the Tibetan variety. It was the official state religion until a few years back. The Constitution of Bhutan -2008 describes Buddhism as the “spiritual heritage” of the country. People of Bhutan practice the four branches of “Tibetan Buddhism”, “Nyingma” and “Kagyu”. Nyingma is the older of the two sects, and it has existed in both Bhutan and Tibet since about the 8th century. The Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, founded in the 11th century, has many sub-sects, of which Drukpa Kagyu is the strongest in Bhutan. Since its establishment in the early 17th century, the Drukpa subsect has become increasingly prominent in Bhutan’s political and religious life, and most Bhutanese are now adherents of it. Although the Nyingma and Kagyu groups have maintained their separate sectarian identities, historical relations between the two traditions have been close, stemming largely from commonalities in doctrine and lineage of leadership.

Aside from Buddhism, Hinduism commands a significant following in Bhutan, particularly within the Nepalese community. Hindus constitute nearly one-fourth of the population. There also is a tiny Christian population.

Bhutan Culture

The Himalayan Kingdom Bhutan is an unusual country in the world. It has some unusual cultures and traditions. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom. Buddhism is the predominant religion of Bhutan. Buddhism is a peaceful, colorful, and divine religion. It is so natural and genuine. Bhutan is a country that best preserves the ancient Buddhism in its original form even today. Bhutan is known for the spirituality of the people and places.

The government of Bhutan has enforced the single dress code and culture throughout the country. And the people of Bhutan are also happy with their local culture and dress. Travelers are expected to wear a shirt with a collar in Bhutan. If you wear long-sleeved shirts, it is even better. You should take off your hats while entering the religious places. You are not allowed to wear shorts or half pants inside temples, monasteries, and Dzongs. You are also forbidden to enter into religious places after consuming alcohol. You can walk safely on the right side of the road.

Bhutan Language 

Bhutan is a land of mystery and magic. It is one of the most picturesque sites in South Asia. Some people believe Bhutan to be the Asian Paradise in the ecological sense. The perpetual beauty of the country is enhanced by its wonderful natural vistas and superb cultural and religious gems. Bhutan is rich in culture and traditions.

Bhutan has more than two dozens languages. The majority of people in Bhutan speak the Dzongkha language. It is also the official language of Bhutan. Besides that Bhutanese speak East Bodish languages, other Tibeto- Burman Languages, Indo- Aryan languages, Border languages, and more. The major Tibetan languages spoken in Bhutan are the Chocangaca language, Lakha, Brokkat, Brokpa, Laya dialects, etc.

Ngalop people speak Dzongkha widely in the western and northern parts of the country. It is also spoken in the capital city, Thimpu. Dzongkha is very to speak and understand. The Sharchop ethnic group speak Tshangla, a Tibetan Burman Language in the eastern part of the country. People to the border area of Bhutan and Assam, an Indian Territory, speak Assamese and Hindi as well.

It is said that one-third of Bhutanese speak Nepali. The Lhotshampa people residing in the southern part of the country especially speak the Nepali language. Moreover, everyone related to tourism speaks good English.

Capital of Bhutan 

Bhutan is not an ordinary country. Bhutan abounds of Buddhist Monasteries and Hindu temples. It is a country that has a glorious history. Many people wonder where the capital of Bhutan is. The administrative capital of Bhutan is Thimpu. Thimpu is a beautiful city situated in the west-central part of the country. The city is in the Himalaya Mountains on the Raidak River at an altitude of about 7000 feet above the sea level. The location itself is fascinating.

Thimpu was declared the capital city of the kingdom of Bhutan in 1961. The city extends north-south at the west bank of Raidak River. Thimpu is the fifth-highest capital in the world by altitude. The altitude of the city ranges between 2248 m to 2648 m.

Thimpu is the political and economical center of Bhutan. Thimpu is quite suitable for agriculture and animal husbandry and these two bases largely contribute to the total GNP of Bhutan. Tourism is another important mainstay of the Bhutanese economy.

Thimphu contains most of the important political buildings in Bhutan, including the National assembly of the newly-formed parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King. The palace is located in the north of the city. Thimphu is coordinated by the “Thimphu Structure Plan”, an Urban Development Plan which evolved in 1998 intending to protect the fragile ecology of the valley.

Thimpu preserves the mind-blowing cultures of Bhutan. The cultures and traditions of Bhutan are depicted in the art, literature, religion, music, traditional folk dances, and local festivals.  All of these unusual customs and practices have made this small city an extraordinary capital city. It has now become one of the bustling hubs for tourists.

What to See in Thimpu?

Thimpu is one of the bustling hubs of tourists. The charm of the city is fascinating to people from all around the world. Thimpu preserves extraordinary cultures, traditions, and heritages. All of the important administrative buildings, palaces, monasteries, temples, Dzongs are located in a few minute’s distances in Thimpu. Here are short descriptions of some of the attractions of Thimpu, Bhutan.

Tashichhoe Dzong

It is one of the prominent Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of Thimpu. It is located on the western bank of Wang Chu. It is the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of the King of Bhutan. It was built in the 17th Century. This building is a very famous tourist attraction in Bhutan. It is a masterpiece of traditional Buddhist architecture. The monastery looks magnificent during the night upon the illumination. This monastery preserves the excellent mural (wall paintings) and fresco work inside it.

The Golf Course

The only Golf course of Bhutan is located next to the Tashichhoe Dzong. It is one of the most remote golf courses in the world. It is a 9- hole layout that was established in the early 1970s. It is a perfect place to visit to take a refreshing break from your sightseeing trip.

National Library

The national library of Bhutan is also located near the Dzong. The library has a rich and abundant collection of the cultural and literary heritage of Bhutan. It has the best collection of historical and religious literature in the Himalayas. Some part of the library collections has also been microfilmed. On the ground floor of the library, there is a book store that offers you a variety of books on Bhutan.

The Memorial Chorten

It is one of the sacred landmarks of the residents of Thimpu. It was erected by the mother of the third King of Bhutan on the memory of her son in 1974. It is famous for its traditional architecture. Many people visit the monument in the evening and express their tribute.

Dechencholing Palace

Dachencholing is the Royal Palace. The members of the Royal family reside here except the King. The three-story building is entirely traditional in both architecture and furnishing. It is accompanied by a lawn, pond, and willow trees. Nearby the Palace is Tangu Cherry, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan.

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