Want to visit Bhutan?
Bhutan is an exotic Eastern kingdom that only opened to tourists in 1972. Bhutan is famous for its contrasts. Banana plantations flourish in the valleys of mountain rivers, forests and highland meadows stretch across the central part of the country, and the snow-capped Himalayas are in the north.
Since 2004, Bhutan has had a total ban on the sale and use of tobacco. A fine of € 175 has been introduced for smoking. The ban does not apply to foreign tourists, diplomats and employees of non-governmental organizations, but smoking in public places is prohibited. There are also severe penalties for foreigners who will sell tobacco to locals. Foreign tourists bringing tobacco for personal use must pay a 200% tax on the value of the product.
The nature of Bhutan, one of the most mysterious countries of the East, will amaze you with its untouched forests, which cover 70% of the total area of the country, as well as rich fauna. More than a quarter of the territory belongs to nature reserves. The tropical evergreen forests are home to magnolias, mimosas and mangoes, neighboring giant bamboos, lianas and chestnut trees. Alpine meadows are home to Himalayan meadow grasses and flowers, while temperate forests are home to over 46 varieties of rhododendron. Bhutan is home to 770 species of birds, for many of which the country is a wintering ground. The southern Himalayan borders are home to Asian elephants, gaur and smoky leopards, while closer to the northern slopes the forests are home to snow leopards, Bengal tigers, red Himalayan raccoons and pandas.
Bhutan's culture and traditions are strongly influenced by Buddhism, which is practiced by more than 75% of the population.
Which cities to visit in Bhutan?
The largest city and capital of Bhutan, attracting tourists with various attractions. The main one is the Fortress of Blessed Religion (Trashinchho Dzong), built in 1216 as a Buddhist monastery where 2000 monks lived. In the middle of the last century, the temple was rebuilt after a fire and turned into a government center that housed the king's office. Another amazing attraction is the Thimphu Chorten Memorial Stupa, which is an important religious site not only in the capital but also in the whole country. The chorten, built in traditional Tibetan style, has a classical shape with its altar. Believers circumambulate the stupa clockwise, spinning prayer wheels to fulfill all their wishes. The stupa was erected in 1974 in memory of the third king of Bhutan.
It is an old winter capital located in the valley of the Wangdu River. The city has a mild climate due to which subtropical plants such as bananas, oranges and cacti thrive here. The area is home to the winter residence of Je Kempo, the head of Buddhism in Bhutan. One of the main attractions of Punakha is Punakha Dzong, a monastery that is located at the confluence of two mountain rivers, the Mo Chu and Pho Chu. The way to the temple is via a footbridge over the Mo-Chu River. At Punakha Dzong you can see a large bodhi tree, a traditional Tibetan stupa, a library with 108 volumes of Kanjur (Tibetan canon written in gold letters) and the mausoleum of the founder of the kingdom of Bhutan.
The only city in Bhutan with an international airport, it is considered one of the hardest to reach in the world. The city is a major religious and cultural center of the kingdom. It is home to Bhutan's main Buddhist shrine, the Tigress Nest Monastery. It is located on a steep slope at an altitude of 3000 meters and consists of seven temples and monks' huts. To reach it, you have to go halfway on foot or on horseback and then climb up on your own. Tigress Nest was destroyed by fire in 1998 and was not rebuilt until 2005. This monastery is one of the few that can be visited in Bhutan.
Another major religious center located in the territory of Tibet. It houses an ancient temple built in the 7th century, the Jambay Lhakhang. According to legend, King Songtsen Gampo ordered 108 monasteries to be built in one day to nail to the ground all the body parts of a demoness who was covering Tibet and the Himalayas, thus preventing the spread of Buddhism. Jakara is also home to the Kurjey Lhakhang Monastery, which preserves the body imprint of the famous guru Padmasambhava. This complex consists of three small royal monasteries and a large chorten, so it is a must visit when traveling to this region.
What to see in Bhutan?
Manas National Park
Manas National Park is a unique place where you can observe rare species of animals, including Himalayan bears, rhinos, Bengal tigers and leopards, in a natural setting. Thanks to government protection, all these species have been preserved and ensured to live in natural conditions. Within the park, tourists can move from alpine meadows to the real tropics, see real glaciers and other various ecosystems.
It is a mountain range that has been around for many years and has a rich history of legends and mystical stories. Everest is located here, as well as eight other mountains that are the highest on Earth. Also, three major river systems start in this area. A lot of mountaineers dream of climbing one of the peaks of this mountain range, but it is not possible for everyone. The Himalayas attract both lovers of stunning views and those seeking spiritual enlightenment. Regardless of the season, it is always beautiful and interesting, and the local cultural traditions add to the interest of the Himalayas.
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