Posted by: odzer | August 26, 2008

Bhutan – Druk Yul

The Bhutanese are a very proud nation. They have every right to be proud. They have survived inspite of Tibet, UK, China and India. Unlike their neighbour Tibet, which was gobbled up by China and Sikkim that was gobbled up by India. I have always had really magical experiences in the good old Druk Yul or Dragon Land. When I first had visited Bhutan way back in 2000, it was not on the itinerary’s of many Indian travelers. I had this idea that Bhutan was a country that was shut to the rest of the world and it was not that wrong. It was a very protected country and in 2000 they were just beginning to open their doors. Like other countries in South Asia, Bhutan faces some challenges as well. There were some ethnic issues with Nepali residents/subjects of the kingdom and many such people were forced to take refuge in Nepal. Other than that there was the matter of a closed border with Tibet due to the presence of China and Indian army was present in the kingdom and still is present to “defend” it.

However that being said and done I have found that perhaps the Bhutanese are the most friendly nation that India has among its neighbours. The reason may be partially that the Bhutanese are at peace with themselves and they do not really see Indians as any type of threat. Another reason may be the relative prosperity of Bhutan’s subjects when compared with Indians generally. I am not sure but perhaps Maldives may be in a similar position. Its just an idea that I have. In terms of infrastructure perhaps Bhutan lacks a lot but what strikes you is the shape in which you find private residences in both the cities and the countryside, not only is the Bhutanese architecture amazing the buildings are all neat and clean. The streets are neat and orderly. People seem to have some respect for law and order and most of all they tend to be open to new ideas. It is interesting to see what you can find in downtown Thimphu in terms of products everything from the best that India and South East Asia have to offer! I even remember eating Nori flavoured Lays there!

I had plans to be there this year but due to some reasons I could not make it, so I guess all I can do is to blog about Bhutan but I am hoping that I will be able to go to Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh soon. I am particularly now interested in the Tawang area of Arunachal. Lets see where the wind takes me next.


  1. Hi Odzer. Nice blog, great visuals and write ups.

    I have fond memories of Bhutan, Druk Yul, Land of the Peaceful Dragon

    Whenever you do go there, don’t miss the Taksang Gompa, perched above Paro on a vertical mountain face. But you will need strong legs and an entire day to go and get back!

  2. Any idea have they made it easier for non-Indians to visit yet? The whole $200 a day thing has been discouraging me in the past but I’d love to go visit Bhutan one day…

  3. Vinod look at the picture of “Tigers Nest” its a photo of Taktsang Monastery. Its indeed a nice place and the amazing part is you always see something new on the face of the mountain above which the monastery rests. Nice to have you on my blog Vinod, Welcome!

  4. No they have still not changed their tourist policies yet. In fact I just read yesterday all mountaineering activity has been banned in Bhutan perhaps to preserve the environment. The world’s highest unclimbed mountain is in Bhutan. They may make it more flexible gradually that is how Bhutan works as far as I know.

  5. The Dzongkha script in one of my favorite ones, only behind Tamil. I will be interested in knowing how Bhutan compares with Arunachal and Sikkim.

  6. Vikram Dzongkha uses the same script as Tibetan and Ladakhi. This particular script you see on the board is Uchan, the other two scripts that they usually use are Umay and Khyugik. My Tibetan unfortunately is quite terrible though I can read and speak quite a bit I assume, I read better than I speak. I have been to Sikkim and I can tell you Sikkim is ruined culturally but it is still a beautiful state and worth the visit. Yet to see Arunachal.

  7. Bhutan has one of the highest “Gross National Happiness” index. It means that in a study of a lot of countries, people of Bhutan feel they are happier. And the kingdom has always been focussing on an overall development interms of happiness, nature, conservation along with monetary growth. I don’t know how they have fared with the last one but on the other three, they have fared rather well. Education and health care facilities are available to all in Bhutan, I heard – is it ture?

  8. Destination Infinity, thank you for your comment. I have heard the same. I have observed generally that the living conditions both in the towns and the countryside are very good compared with the rest of South Asia that I have seen. As for health care two of my friends there have had serious health care issues in Bhutan and they needed to go to India or Thailand for treatment. I think within Bhutan health care needs improvement but for minor conditions I think the country has adequate infrastructure.

  9. ‘Sikkim is ruined culturally’, is this because of migrants from the rest of India or tourists ?

  10. Sikkim and its unique culture were ethinically wiped out because of the way Sikkim was merged in to India. Sikkim has a very checkered history and at various times it has been claimed by Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, China and finally the modern Republic Of India. I would suggest reading the book So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas  by Barbara Corsette . You should also read some more about Hope Cooke the last American-Sikkimese queen and wife of the last Chogyal of Sikkim. It is said that Indira Gandhi had a great Jealousy with her and that is why India invaded Sikkim. I am not entirely sure if this was behind the Indian machinations but surely what happened in Sikkim is being repeated in Georgia today. A big state bullying a smaller one.

  11. So when you say ‘ethnically wiped out’, do you mean by Bengali settlers or commerical tourism ?

    Was the referendum (for accession) rigged ?

  12. I say they were wiped out by the Nepalese speaking people who were moved there. I also think the referendum was not entirely “accurate or fair”. To my knowledge at least it was not internationally monitored.

  13. Were they moved there by the British or did they just migrate ?

  14. Was it the British I doubt it. The Nepalese held most of North India before the Anglo-Gorkha war. Right from Nepal of Today till Srinagar in Kashmir. A lot of modern Uttranchal, UP and Himachal Pradesh were Nepal.Sikkim changed hands a couple of times as well.

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