Bhutan, known to its people as 'Drukyul', the Land of Thunder Dragon, is a tiny, land-locked kingdom in South Asia, located between India to the south and China to the north in the Eastern Himalayan Region. It is a mountainous country blessed with good environment system. The Kingdom has a total area of 38,394 sq. km and it lies between 88 ° 45' and longitude east and 26 ° 40' and 28 ° 15' north.
The Royal Government of Bhutan has adopted a very cautious approach to the development of tourism in the Kingdom in an effort to avoid the negative impact of tourism on the culture and the environment. Foreign visitors to Bhutan must either be guests of the government or tourists. All tourists - Groups or Individuals - must travel on a pre-planned, prepaid, guided package tour program. Independent travel is not permitted.
In Bhutan, the traditional arts are known as zorig chusum (zo = the ability to make; rig = science or craft; chusum = thirteen). These practices have been gradually developed through the centuries, often passed down through families with long-standing relations to a particular craft. These traditional crafts represent hundreds of years of knowledge and ability that has been passed down through generations.
The great 15th century terton, Pema Lingpa is traditionally credited with introducing the arts into Bhutan. In 1680, Ngawang Namgyal, the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, ordered the establishment of the school for instruction in the thirteen traditional arts. Although the skills existed much earlier, it is believed that the zorig chusum was first formally categorized during the rule of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye (1680-1694), the 4th Druk Desi (secular ruler).
Dezo: (Paper Making) Handmade paper made mainly from the Daphne plant and gum from a creeper root.
Dozo:(Stonework) Stone arts used in the construction of stone pools and the outer walls of dzongs, gompas, stupas and some other buildings.
Garzo:(Blacksmithing) The manufacture of iron goods, such as farm tools, knives, swords, and utensils.
Jinzo: (Clay arts) The making of religious statues and ritual objects, pottery and the construction of buildings using mortar, plaster, and rammed earth.
Lhazo:(Painting) From the images on thangkas, walls paintings, and statues to the decorations on furniture and window-frames.
Lugzo:(Bronze casting) Production of bronze roof-crests, statues, bells, and ritual instruments, in addition to jewelry and household items using sand casting and lost-wax casting. Larger statues are made by repousse.
Parzo: (Wood, slate, and stone carving) In wood, slate or stone, for making such items as printing blocks for religious texts, masks, furniture, altars, and the slate images adorning many shrines and altars.
Shagzo:(Woodturning) Making a variety of bowls, plates, cups, and other containers.
Shingzo: (Woodworking) Employed in the construction of dzongs and gompas
Thagzo: (Weaving) The production of some of the most intricately woven fabrics produced in Asia.
Trozo: (Silver- and gold-smithing) Working in gold, silver, and copper to make jewelry, ritual objects, and utilitarian household items.
Tshazo: (Cane and bamboo work) The production of such varied items as bows and arrows, baskets, drinks containers, utensils, musical instruments, fences, and mats.
Tshemzo: (Needlework) Working with needle and thread to make clothes, boots, or the most intricate of applique thangkas.
Bhutan is a land-locked country with mountainous terrain. The Bhutanese are divided into many ethnic groups such as the Ngalops - Western Region, Sharshops - Eastern Region, Brokpas & Layaps - Highlanders, Nepalese Origins - Southern Region each with their distinct language and dress. There are 14 main different different dialects are spoken even today. The Highlanders still live a nomadic life depend on their livestock. According to the latest census recorded in 2012 Bhutan has a population of 700,000. Thmphu is perhaps the smallest capital in the world with an estimated population of 100,000.
Most Bhutanese are linguist by nature speaking more of four major languages and additionally, English, Hindi and are spoken with flair. Traditionally, public and private communications, religious materials, and official documents were written in chhokey, the classical Tibetan script, and a Bhutanese adaptive cursive script was developed for correspondence. In modern times, as in the past, chhokey, which exists only in written form, was understood only by the well educated. Hindi is understood among Bhutanese educated in India and was the language of instruction in the schools from early 1930s. English became the medium of instruction in the "formal" education system from the beginning of the 1960s. The national language is called Dzongkha widely spoken in the western region.
The government's effort to preserve traditional culture and to strengthen the contemporary sense of national identity (driglam namzha-national customs and etiquette) has been its emphasis on Dzongkha-language study.
The four main dialects are Sharchopkha or Tsangla and Mon-kha language spoken in eastern region; Bumthangkha, including Khengkha spoken in central region; and Nepali or Lhotsamkha prominently spoken in the southern region. Along with Dzongkha and English, Nepali was once one of the three official languages used in Bhutan.
While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness are profound.
As such, strong emphasis is laid on the promotion and preservation of its unique culture. By protecting and nurturing Bhutan's living culture it is believed that it will help guard the sovereignty of the nation.
Food Habit: Rice, and increasingly maize, are the staple foods of the country. The diet in the hills also includes chickens, yaks meat, beef and Sheep mutton. Soups of meat, rice, and dried vegetables spiced with chillies and cheese are a favorite meal during the cold seasons. Dairy foods, particularly butter and cheese from yaks and cows are popular, and indeed almost all milk is turned to butter and cheese. Popular beverages include butter tea, sweet tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer. Bhutan is the only country in the world to have banned the sale of tobacco.
Sports: Bhutan's national sport is archery, and competitions are held regularly in most villages. It differs from Olympic standards not only in technical details such as the placement of the targets and atmosphere. There are two targets placed over 100 meters apart and teams shoot from one end of the field to the other. Each member of the team shoots two arrows per round. Traditional Bhutanese archery is a social event and competitions are organized between villages, towns, and amateur teams. There are usually plenty of food and drink complete with singing and dancing. Wives and supporters of the participating teams cheer. Attempts to distract an opponent include standing around the target and making fun of the shooter's ability.
Darts (Khuru) is an equally popular outdoor team sport, in which heavy wooden darts pointed with a 10 cm nail are thrown at a paperback-sized target ten to twenty metres away. Football is an increasingly popular sport. Golf is fast becoming a popular sport.
Music: Rigsar (Modern) is the new emergent style of popular music, played on a mix of traditional instruments and electronic keyboards, and dates back to the early 1990s; it shows the influence of Indian popular music, a hybrid form of traditional and Western popular influences. Traditional genres include the Zhungdra and Boedra.
Holidays: Bhutan has numerous public holidays, most of which centre around traditional seasonal, secular and religious festivals. They include the winter solstice, Lunar New Year, King's Birthday, Coronation Anniversary, National Day, the Official Start of Monsoon Season, and various Buddhist and Hindu celebrations. Even the secular holidays have religious overtones, including religious dances and prayers for blessing the day.
Festivals: Masked dances and dance dramas are common traditional features at festivals, usually accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colorful wooden or composition face masks and stylized costumes, depict heroes, demons, death heads, animals, gods, and caricatures of common people. The dancers enjoy royal patronage, and preserve ancient folk and religious customs and perpetuate the ancient lore and art of mask-making.
Marriage: Inheritance in Bhutan generally goes in the female rather than the male line. Daughters will inherit their parents' house. A man is expected to make his own way in the world and often moves to his wife's home. Love marriages are the norm. There is no tradition of arranged marriages and, though uncommon, polygamy and polyandry are accepted. This is often a device to keep property in a contained family unit rather than dispersing it. Former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is married to four sisters.
Bhutan considers itself to the mythical paradise on earth and therefore it is called - Shangri La. It means a Hidden Paradise. It is hidden because Bhutan remained cut-off from other parts of the world for many centuries. It is a paradise because no adverse natural calamities like - floods, storms, earthquake, landslides have ever occurred in Bhutan. Famous for its forest cover, the natural biodiversity is always a delight to any botanist or nature lover with the sheer variety of flora and shades of green.
Bhutan is climatically divided by four equal seasons and each season brings their own beauties making the country exotic destination to visit any season. However, the rush seasons for the International Tourists are Spring (March, April & May) & Autumn(September, October & November) as most of the local festivals take place during these two seasons for practical reasons.
The Winter Season month are December, January & February. Winter months are comparatively cold but not severe and fierce winters. While Bhutan has high mountains under perpetual snow cover, the snow fall in the river basins are rare where most settlements exist.
The Summer Season months are June, July & August. One of the most pleasant times to be in Bhutan is in summer. Rains fall during the summer season and it is considered wettest season, but the annual rainfalls are tolerable. Being a mountainous country, sometimes incessant rainfall over a week cause minor landslides but cause no major road blocks.