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Bhutan

 Bhutan is a small Buddhist country located in the eastern Himalayas surrounded by Tibet to the north and India to the east, west and south. Increasingly renowned as one of the Earth’s last precious unspoiled spots this magical place with a vibrant Buddhist culture is integrated into every aspect of daily life. Spectacular mountain scenery provides a backdrop to pristine forests and picturesque valleys. The breathtaking landscape is dotted with fluttering prayer flags, colourful farmhouses amidst the terraced fields, and impressive monasteries clinging to impossible cliffs.

The inhabitants themselves call this “Druk Yul”, the land of the peaceful dragon. The Kingdom’s low population and its wise and farsighted leadership have propelled Bhutan into the 21st Century with much of its natural and cultural heritage unique and intact.
(Bhutan Gayul)
 
A BRIEF HISTORY
Bhutan’s early history is steeped in the Buddhist tradition and mythology. Mystery surrounds Bhutan’s distant past, because books and papers were lost in consecutive fires at the national printing works and at Punakha Dzong in 1828 and 1832. Then a massive earthquake in 1896 and a fire in Paro Dzong destroyed all but a few of the records that outlasted the first disasters. Despite the loss of these records, we know that Bhutan’s history parallels the following of Buddhism in the Himalayas. To properly understand Bhutan’s history, one also needs to understand its religion, because Buddhism has occupied a predominant role in shaping the social, political, economic and cultural evolution of the country.

Although Bhutan was not unified under a central authority until the 17th century, the religious presence in the country had been acting as a spiritual cohesion for many years. In 747 A.D the Buddhist sage, Padmasambhava, popularly revered in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche or the precious Master, visited the country and introduced Buddhism. Since then, in the century that followed, Lamas or Buddhist teachers and local nobility established their own separate domains through out the country.

In 1616, another saint called the “Shabdrung,” meaning, “at whose feet one submits,” came from Tibet and unified Bhutan under a central authority. He is responsible for building all the Dzongs (fortresses) in the kingdom and also set up a dual system of government that intertwines the religious and secular authorities. To the present day, these Dzongs serve as a center for religious and civil authority.

The country’s recent history begins with the establishment of a hereditary monarchy in 1907. However, it was only during the reign of the third king (1952-1972), His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck also known as the Father of modern Bhutan that the nation emerged from its medieval past of serfdom and reclusion. Until the 1960s the country had no national currency, no telephones, schools, hospitals, postal services or tourists. Development efforts have now produced all these plus a national assembly, airport, roads, and a national system of health care. Despite the speed of modernization, Bhutan has maintained a policy of careful, controlled growth in an effort to preserve its national identity. Under the visionary leadership of the 4th King (1972-2007), His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck has promoted the development philosophy of ‘Gross National Happiness’. Further under his reign Bhutan withnessed the biggest political transformation when His Majesty abdicated the throne for his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and declared democracy as a form of government for Bhutan.
 
ITINERARIES CAN BE TAILORED FOR SMALL GROUPS & PRIVATE TOURS 
SELECT YOUR DATE & TOUR DURATION

BHUTAN - the land of happiness - small group and private tours

BHUTAN TOURIST MAP

BHUTAN CULTURAL & NATURAL HISTORY TOURS

 Our cultural and natural history tours are the most recommended of our trips. We can operate any of these tours with 2 or more friends travelling together or you can join one of our scheduled departures. In addition we can also add a few days of trekking if you so wish. During these tours you will see, study, and photograph wildflowers, bird life, and scenery. You will walk in open meadows and old growth forests of pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, juniper, cypress and oak. You will walk past charming mountain villages and monasteries. A two-week program is an ideal duration for a program of this kind, but this can either be extended or shortened depending upon your time available.  Contact Guidepost Bhutan Tours (Gpt-Gayul)

BHUTAN CULTURAL TOURS - Set date itineraries

These are set date itineraries. Bhutan's traditional arts, age-old ceremonies, festivals, social conduct, and historical structures are not remnants of a bygone age. Traditional arts and crafts are still practiced as they were done hundreds of years ago. Bhutan’s traditional culture is alive in its performing arts, such as dance, songs and traditional instrumental music. Bhutan’s textile tradition has, in recent years, gone international. The distinct technique, color, and style of indigenous Bhutanese weaving is being increasingly appreciated. Join us with a group of your friends on a private Bhutan tour tailored to your special interest. Contact Guidepost Tours (Gpt-Gayul)

TREKKING IN BHUTAN

 As Robert Frost says ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’ - that difference is what trekking in Bhutan offers - experiencing the trails less travelled. The trek routes are basically trails used by yak herders and, local communities - making your trek more special within this cultural mosaic. You will have a group of professional and experienced crew to handle your food, tents, guiding and you will be accompanied by a caravan of horses and pack animals. Trekking in Bhutan is an extraordinary experience. There is much to see-mountains, forests, alpine meadows, lakes, flowers, wildlife and - local communities and all, within the peaceful, tranquil and captivating landscape. Contact Guidepost Tours (Gpt-Gayul)

FESTIVALS IN BHUTAN

Bhutan is a country of festivals. The most important are the religious dance festivals, known as Tshechus, which are held in different districts, at specific times during the year. The Tshechus are celebrated for three to five days. These festivals, which are held in honor of Guru Rimpoche, commemorate his great deeds. Dances with deep religious significance, especially in the tantric context, are performed. Guidepost will assist you to tailor your tour. Contact Guidepost Tours and ask to speak to our Bhutan specialist.  (Gpt-Gayul)


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Bhutan