General Information

National Symbols Of Bhutan

National Language of Bhutan

National language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. Dzongkha was spoken by people who worked in the Dzongs that was the seat of temporal and spiritual power.

National dress of bhutan

National dress of Bhutan is Gho and Kira. The men wear Gho and women wears Kira. It was introduced during the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to give the Bhutanese a unique identity.

National Bird of Bhutan: Raven

Raven (corvus corax) is national bird of Bhutan. It represents the guardian deity of Bhutan- Yeshey Goenpa (mahakala). It is locally known as Jarogi.

National anthem of bhutan

The national anthem is Druk Tshenden Kepay Gyalkhab Na (In the land of the Dragon Kingdom, where cypress grows) and it was first composed in 1953 and became official in 1966. The music is composed by Aku Tongmi and words written by Dasho Gyaldun thinley.

National day of bhutan

17th December of is celebrated as National day of Bhutan every year. It commemorates the crowning ceremony of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary king of Bhutan, in Punakha Dzong on 17 December 1907.

National Tree of Bhutan: Cypress

The national tree of Bhutan is the Cypress (Cupressus torolusa). It is locally known as Tseden. It is found in abundance and one may notice it near temples and monasties. It is often associated with religious places. Cypress can grow in rugged harsh inhospitable terrains.

National emblem of bhutan

National Emblem of Bhutan is circle that is composed of a double diamond-thunderbolt (Dorje) placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The thunderbolts represent the harmony between secular and religious power while the lotus symbolizes purity. The jewel signifies the sovereign power while the dragons (male and female) stands for the name of the country Drukyul or the Land of the Dragon.

National Flag of Bhutan

The national flag was designed in 1947 by Mayum Choying Wangmo Dorji and later modified in 1956 to take its final shape. The upper yellow half signifies the secular power and authority of the king while the lower saffron-orange symbolizes the power of Buddhism. The dragon, white in colour, is a symbol of purity of the country, representing Bhutan while the jewels in its claws stands for the wealth and perfection of the country.

National Flower of Bhutan: Blue Poppy

The national flower of Bhutan is Blue poppy (Meconopsis grandis). It is found at high altitudes of the alpine meadows of Himalayas and grows at a height of 1 meter on the rocky mountain terrain. It has a delicate blue or purple tinged appearance with a white filament and blooms to its full beauty in spring.

National Animal of Bhutan: Takin

National animal of bhutan is Takin (burdorcas taxicolor). It is associated with religious history and mythology. Takin is rare and unique mammal that lives in the north-western and north-eastern part of Bhutan. It lives in a group and feeds on bamboos.

National Game of Bhutan: Archery

Archery is the most popular and the most played game in the country and it is the national game of Bhutan. It is played wearing tradional dresses between the two teams.

National Dish of Bhutan: Ema Datshi

Ema Datshi is among the most famous dishes in Bhutanese cuisine, recognized as a national dish of Bhutan. It is made from chili peppers and cheese; "ema" means "chili" and "datshi" means "cheese" in the Dzongkha language of Bhutan

Geography of bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia with a land area of 47,000 sq km. Like the neighbor Nepal, Bhutan shares its border with the two Asian giants China and India. Bhutan is in just eighty-eight-kilometer away from Nepal separated by Sikkim, and sixty kilometers from Bangladesh separated by the West Bengal State of India. The northern region of Bhutan consists of an arc of glaciated mountain peaks with an extremely cold climate. Bhutan?s border with China?s covers 470 km in the north and northeast, and approximately 605 kilometers in the south are shared with the Indian States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, and Sikkim.s

History of bhutan

The earliest settlement in Bhutan took place at least 2000 years before Christ, according to the recent archaeological studies. Buddhism is said to be introduced in the 2nd century and took hold in Bhutan after the visit by Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century. Bhutan used to be called Lhomon or Monyul around 600 B. Although Bhutan has been a Buddhist nation since the earliest of times, the pattern of religion and the ruling clans have changed considerably over the centuries.

The British Raj in India helped to create the Wangchuk Monarchy in 1907 in return of Bhutan?s ceding of the Sinchulu lands to the British. Like most other nations, the territory now covered by Bhutan use to consist of separate towns or principalities practicing different religions or different forms of the same religion. Around 1600, the internal turmoils in Tibet forced the the Drukpa clan to flee form Lhasa. Lama Ngawang Namgyal of the immigrant Drukpas in Bhutan untited the separate principalities into one nation, the government being the theocracy of the Drukpa Buddhism.

Around the mid-seventeenth century, Bhutan was invaded by the Mongols under their leader Gushi Khan?s army. The invasion persuaded the Bhutanese rulers to strengthen their position and unite the country further which came to be known as t Druk Yul. The country was divided into regions, which were administered by governors known as Penlops, with Dzongpons appointed below them to administer civil affairs locally. Although Bhutan attempted to increase its influence when the Moghul Empire was waning in the mid 19th century, the war with the British Empire and subsequent defeat forced Bhutan to remain inside its present geography.

The present ruling monarchy of Wangchuks was established in 1907, when Bhutan was declared a kingdom and Ugyen Wangchuk was enthroned as a Monarch. The British too recognized the new King of Bhutan, and Bhutan remained under British influence until the latter left India in 1947. After India gained independence, Bhutan has remained a sovereign nation under India?s military protectorate. Jigme Wangchuck, Ugyen's son, ruled from 1926 to 1952 and was followed by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who ruled from 1953 to 1972. The fourth druk gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck began his reign in 1972. Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne in favor of his son Kesar Namgyal Wangchuck declaring the country a democratic constitutional monarchy in 2008. Since the 1980s, the Bhutanese Government has also been criticized for practicing racist policies and programmes by evicting the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampa citizens from southern Bhutan whose ancestors were brought to the country during 1624 AD long long before the establishment of monarchy system in 1917 AD by the then Shabdung Nagwang Namgyel,who was ruling the country as both religious and temporal head.

Bhutan culture and religion

Bhutan is the smallest country in the south Asia with a population being less than one million. Until recently, the country used to be one of the most isolated places on earth for its hesitation in allowing outer influence on its culture and religion. The impact of Buddhism is incredible... everyone from far-flung villagers to the king consult the monks for auspicious occasions. Bhutan carefully monitors the impact of foreign influence to keep a balance between modernization and preservation of its traditions and culture. Bhutan follows the Tantric forms Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion.

Thus, Bhutan is world?s only officially Tantric Buddhist country. The Dzongs, monasteries, stupas, prayer flags, and prayer wheels are the most conspicuous symbols of Bhutanese life and landscape. The biggest festival of Bhutan is called Tsechus. The Tsechu celebration goes on for several days; sometimes the dancers confront make clownish remarks for the spectators? amusement. Most people in southern Bhutan follow the Nepalese form of Hinduism.

Most of the festivals are celebrated in the masked ritual dances in which the Buddhist dancers are clad in a rainbow of sparkling brocade silks and a mask depicting either the good or evil force. The festival show distinct characteristics of the pre-Buddhist era when the people in the Tibetan plateau practiced the shamanistic Bon religion. Some of the festivals are Ache Lhamo Dances, Bumthang, Hungla dances, Trashi Yangtse and the Bon festivals, Ha and Trashi Yangtse. Religion?s influence in Bhutanese way of life is so immense that although the country has only one cinema hall, and no any large shopping stores, Bhutan was ranked the happiest place in Asia and the 8th happiest in the world 2006 Global Survey!

The children are given the name in the Tibetan tradition: from the day they were born. The horoscope is made according to the Bhutanese calendar. All rituals and ceremonies are performed according to the horoscope. Even marriage, death and rebirth are predicted according to the horoscope. Bhutanese practice marriage among relatives, the cousins are traditionally the first choices. The bride and groom are presented gifts and scarves called Khada. Bhutanese observe a long ritual after the death of a person, and they erect prayer flags so that the deceased would have a good life in rebirth.

Bhutanese just love making their dishes hot with green chillies. The favourite menu local item is Ema Datsi - chili with cheese, Paa - pork and beef, and rice varieties. At home, people sit on the floor in circle and the mother serves the food. Food is generally eaten with hands at tome.

Political systems in bhutan

The establishment of monarchy in 1907 was the watershed event in the history of modern Bhutan. The country enjoyed peace and progress under successive reformist monarchs. The third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck reformed the old pseudo-feudal systems by abolishing serfdom, redistributing land, and reforming taxation. He also introduced many executive, legislative, and judiciary reforms. The fourth king, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, took decentralization to the people, and devolved all executive powers to a council of ministers elected by the people in 1998, besides introducing a system of voting no confidence in the king, which empowered the parliament to remove the monarch. The national Constitution Committee started drafting the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan in 2001. The Draft Constitution was distributed to the people in 2005, which was followed by public consultation initiated by the 4th and 5th Kings. Its implementation will establish parliamentary democracy in the country.

The people in different villages of the gewog in turn elect the chimis (people?s repressentatives). The king is now the head of the state. The government is elected by the parliament for a five-year term, with the head of the government or post of prime minister rotating amongst the ministers. At the district level, Dzongda functions as the chief executive officer and the gup (gewog head man) elected by the people is the chief executive officer at gewog level. Under the policy of greater decentralization and empowerment of the people, the Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu and the Geog Yargye Tshogchung have been given full administrative, policy making and financial powers in their respective Dzongkhags. Therefore, the success of development programmes will now be determined by the decisions taken by the people and the quality of their participation in implementing them.

People of bhutan

Bhutan is one of the most peaceful and blissful country in the world. Although still a developing country, Bhutan ranks among the Top Tens in terms of Gross National Happiness Index. The carefree and blissful lifestyle of the Bhutanese certainly puts a great question to the modern development of the Western world where happiness seems even more elusive than it was before. For the busy travelers from the West with so many stressful deadlines back home, things in Bhutan just seems to slow down so much that suddenly they have all the time in the world. The Bhutanese just don?t seem to follow the tyrannies of time and schedules in their personal life.

Roughly 70% of Bhutanese are believed to practice Buddhism, 25% Hinduism & 5% others. There are also some Christians, & practitioners of the ancient religion of the Tibetan region, the Bon. Ethnically and linguistically the people of Bhutan may be broadly categorized into three groups: the Tibetan origin Bjops, Ngalong, and Wangdue people in the northern, western, and central areas, the Sharchops in the eastern part, and the Nepali speaking Lhotshampas in the South. Most Bhutanese speak various variants of Dzongkha the national language of Bhutan.

Bhutanese national dress is called gho for men and kira for women, the national dress is compulsory in all public places and social functions. The imposition of dress code had culture has also been of dispute in the recent years resulting in the exodus of thousands of Nepali speaking Bhutanese nationals from the country. Rice is the staple food, and despite beings predominantly Buddhist, Bhutanese also eat meat in large amounts. An interesting food habit among the Bhutanese is the practice of chewing betel and nut preparation called Doma. Chewing Doma is popular among all sections of society and often the visitors are welcomed with a Doma pack.

Bhutan has adopted a very cautious modernization approach - still, Bhutanese people are generally friendly towards foreigners. Bhutan also has more than 10,000 Tibetan refugees who fled Tibet dissenting the Chinese control. Bhutan itself has been criticized for evicting its more than 100,000 Nepali speaking people from South Bhutan.

Bhutan festivals

The Bhutanese are great festival makers. Although some festival are seasonal, most are deeply rooted in the religious way of life. While Tibetan Buddhism based festivals are popular in the northern and central Bhutan, the southern part celebrates festivals influenced by Nepali and Indian form of Hinduism. Some festivals even belong to the pre-Buddhist era of the ancient Bon religion. The Bhutanese celebrate Tsechu in various Dongkas, but Paro Tsechu is a grand one so promoted as a representative of Bhutanese culture to the world. In this festival, monks perform masked dances telling stories based on Guru Rinpoche?s life. The 5th day is a special day when the grand thangka is put on exhibition and the devotees pay their respect. A large number of people from many Dzongkhas travel Paro to participate in the festival and get blessings from the monks.

Guru Rimpoche was the founder of Tantric Buddhism hence a most revered figure in Bhutanese religious life. Guru Rimpoche himself had meditated and spreaded the religion around the Paro valley and also built many temples and monasteries. Hence the Paro people worship him and take delight in reciting various legends connected with Guru Rimpoche. Besides, the celebrations also provide people opportunities for recreation and social contacts: wearing new clothes, eating delicious items, meeting friends and relatives, get-togethers, and dances.

The Tshechu Festivals are celebrated in various parts of the country. The sequence of dances performed during the Tshechu are based on the Tsam dances of Tibet. The exact date and days for celebration vary according to the region. According to the Bhutanese Calendar, all Tschechu Festivals fall on the tenth day of the month. The unfurling of the Thongdrol or the large embroidered Thangkas makes an important part of the Tshechu festivals. The unfurling of the Thangkas is believed to be symbolical representation of wiping away all bad karmas through the rituals.

The second largest festival of Bhutan is the Dromche. The Dromche is mostly celebrated in the Thimpu, Paro and Punakha regions. The Punakha Dromche is the grandest of all. Besides Dromche, Tsechus are also celebrated in the ancient capital Punakha.

Losar is another important festival of Bhutan celebrated around the February full moon day. The festival also marks the Bhutanese New Year. Losar has less religious characteristic than other festivals. The Archery competition and funfare are the main attraction of the festival.

The rural bhutan

It has been argued that rural development was neglected in the early development programs of Bhutan. Education was meant to provide skills for government services, not for improving traditional agricultural practices. Recent decentralization policies have acknowledged this shortfall, but Bhutan villages are still in short of qualified teachers, medical personnel, agriculture expertise, and water resource managers. More than 80 percent of Bhutanese live in the rural area which prevalently has subsistence based economy.

Rural Bhutan still retains the same antique way of life since the beginning of settlement untouched by modernity. In fact there was no TV or Internet until 1999. One just needs to visit the Buddhist Chapel in the neighborhood and well made images of Buddha, start or tread on the ancient dirt roads on horseback passing through cultivated fields and unspoiled forests consisting pines, oaks, maples, magnolias, large pendant leaves, creepers, and bauhinias.

The rural Bhutan remains isolated from the rest of the country. Rural Bhutan has 30.9 percent of its population below the poverty line compared to 1.7 in the urban areas. Many rural residents must walk for hours or even days just to reach the nearest road. The areas around Zhemgang, Samtse, Mongar, Lhuentse, and Samdrup Jongkhar and found to be more poverty stricken than others. Men are often known as ?Kep pho? which is a relatively honorary term, women are called with a rather derogatory term “moringmo”. Traditionally, a man marrying two or more women or a woman marrying two or more men was not uncommon until recently. Among the women, the traditional form of textile weaving is still one of the primary means of income in rural Bhutan.

Recently, Bhutan also has adopted the policy of developing the rural areas through tourism. The policy considers the prospects for the development of ecotourism. The idea is to attract tourists for ecotourism that could contribute to the goals of Gross National Happiness. The majority of tourists and tour operators are in favor of ecotourism activities that might benefit local rural communities.

Flora & fauna of bhutan

Since Bhutan?s geography ranges from a low altitudes 200 meters to the highest of Himalayas to as high as 7,500 metres, a wide variety of animal and plant species are found across the country. The hinterlands of Bhutan extend to Tibet in the north, and to Sikkim, Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh states of Indian in the west, south and east.

The geography of bhutan is divided into three parts:

    • The southern Tropical or Subtropical foothills from 200m to 2000m
    • The Temperate Zone from 2000 to 4000m
    • The Alpine Zone 4000m and above

    About 72.5 per cent of the country?s area is under forest cover. There are more than 5000 species of plants that include vast forests of pine, spruce, silver fir, junipers, conifers deodar, and Chirpine, maples, rhododendrons, alder, and birch, oaks, among others. The Blue Poppy is Bhutan?s national flower which grows in the highlands above the tree line up to 4,500 meters. Beyond 4000 elevation, the vegetation becomes sparse as the snowline gets nearer.

    The rare mammals like rhinoceroses, bison, and Elephants make their home in the lower tropical jungles, the foothills are inhabited by animals like red panda, brown bear, snow leopard, black bear, and monkey species, while mountains goats and yaks have adapted the high Himalayan areas. Moreover more than 770 species of bird and hundreds of butterfly species have also been recorded throughout the Kingdom.

    The Government of Bhutan has a official policy of keeping approximately 26% of country?s total land area for national parks, nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and conservation areas.

    The national parks and conservation reserves of bhutan are:

      • Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park
      • TrumshingLa National Park
      • Royal Manas National Park
      • Jigme Dorji National Park
      • Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary
      • Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary