Welcome to the land of happiness - the joy sure is infectious even to the passing traveller. This little nation is known for having fashioned a remarkable way to measure Gross National Happiness, an index equally, if not more prioritised on the government’s agenda than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
With rich culture, community and individual wellbeing and environmental conservation high on the country’s to-do list, it is no wonder Bhutan claims the spot of the world’s happiest country. And now, we uncover their secret - a unique blend of stunningly unruffled nature and fiercely preserved culture for a treasure trove of Bhutanese experiences to be had.
Peacefully sequestered from the outside world, Bhutan unveils an unparalleled richness of heritage.
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a famed religious site tracing back to 1692 when the most widely practised religion in Bhutan, Buddhism, was first introduced to the land.
Teetering on the edge of a towering cliff overlooking glorious greenery, the monastery is a national treasure for its peaceful beauty and religious significance. From a chapel of butter lamps to a cascading waterfall by the Snow Lion Cave, the atmosphere divulges quintessential Bhutanese culture.
Experience the Tsechu Festival, a masked dance celebration steeped in traditional significance. Honoring Guru Rinpoche, the teacher who brought Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan, the locals put on colourful displays involving Cham dances, Atsaras and monstrous thangkas.
For the Buddhist locals, participation is a mark of spiritual devotion - probably a key factor that fuels the carefree joy of the Bhutanese. Dressed in their finest, the whole of Bhutan gathers for the festivities.
Paro is a natural paradise that affords Bhutan much of its serene headspace in contrast to the fast-paced contemporary life the rest of the world hurries about.
The backdrop of the Eastern Himalayas makes for a wealth of sweepingly breathtaking scenery. An array of activities await the outdoorsy: from mountain biking and trekking to kayaking and rafting.
The Snowman trek in the Himalayas is also one of the toughest but most beautiful treks in the world, providing a tranquil isolation untouched by urban influences and made possible by Bhutan’s incomparably robust environmental conservation practices.
The Nabji Korphu Trek is a milder route for novice hikers to enjoy the biodiversity of Bhutan’s natural surroundings.
Amid colourful flora and fauna, keep an eye out for the Red Panda, Himalayan Black Bears, Rhesus Monkeys and Clouded Leopards. There is something magical about being alone in the sleepy jungle lulled by idyllic birdsong.
Out of over 5 million acres of protected areas, Bhutan’s Royal Manas National Park remains one of the most biologically diverse gems of preservation in the world. This hailed ‘Conservation Showpiece of the Kingdom’ boasts wildlife galore with 200 species of birds, 900 types of plants as well as the Bengal Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gangetic Dolphin and rare Golden Langur.
There is no potpourri of experiences from the cultural to the adventurous quite like that in Bhutan.