Bhutan famous for

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 07/05/2024

Bhutan, also called the "Kingdom of Bhutan," is nestled at the eastern end of the Himalayas. China borders it to the north and India to the east, west and south. Bhutan provides a refreshing escape with its peaceful capital, Thimphu, making it an ideal spot for a calming and rejuvenating getaway.

Bhutan is famous for its vibrant and colourful celebrations, especially the traditional Tshechu festivals. These historic events showcase Bhutan's deep-rooted Buddhist culture.

They pay tribute to Guru Rimpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the eighth century. The mesmerising dances and rituals during Tshechu festivities offer visitors a glimpse into Bhutan's rich spiritual heritage.

Beyond its cultural celebrations, Bhutan is famous among those seeking tranquillity and natural beauty. With its pristine landscapes, rich biodiversity and commitment to sustainable living, Bhutan offers a truly blissful experience for travellers searching for peace and rejuvenation.

Bhutan is also known for its clean and fresh air, a result of being the first country in the world to ban the sale of tobacco. This commitment to environmental health enhances the overall experience when visiting the country.

Here is a list of popular things to do and famous places in Bhutan that you can consider including in your itinerary.

What is Bhutan famous for?

Festivals

Tshechu is a yearly religious festival held in monasteries, dzongs and temples across Bhutan. It occurs on the tenth of the lunar calendar's tenth month, marking Guru Rimpoche's birthday.

The exact timing of Tshechu differs based on the location. Communities gather to receive blessings, watch sacred mask dances, and socialise. You can also enjoy colourful Bhutanese dance forms and other entertainment alongside mask dances.

Experiencing a Tshechu and witnessing the mask dances is believed to bring blessings and cleanse sins. Each mask dance tells a unique story, often based on events from Guru Padmasambhava's life in the 8th century.

Monks perform mask performances in monasteries, while monks and local men participate in small towns. The Thimphu and Paro Tshechus, two prominent Bhutan tourist attractions, are among the most popular in the country due to their participation and large audiences.

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Paro

Taktsang Palphung Monastery, also popularly called 'Tiger's Nest,' is one of Bhutan's most renowned tourist spots. Nestled at 3,120 metres, it clings to a ridge in the elevated part of the Paro Valley. It offers stunning vistas of the valley and surrounding mountains. To reach this breathtaking monastery, you embark on a hike from Paro.

Once there, you will be captivated by its classic Buddhist architecture, showcasing white buildings with golden roofs. The monastery features a golden dome and small lights lighting golden Buddha statues.

For a spiritual experience, explore the four interconnected temples, each accessible via staircases etched from the mountain rock.

Bhutanese Cuisine

Bhutanese cuisine is diverse and offers a unique range of flavours. At the heart of this culinary experience is ema datshi, the national dish made with chillies and cheese.

Known for its spiciness, it is a must-try dish that the locals take great pride in.

Another staple Bhutan famous food is Bhutanese red rice, similar to brown rice but with a nutty flavour. It is the only type of rice that grows at high altitudes.

Buckwheat and maize are staples, while popular snacks include momo, khabzey (dried fritter cakes made with flour, water, and sugar), and shakam eezay.

Don't miss out on trying shabalay, juma (Bhutanese sausages marinated in spices), and various noodle dishes.

Bhutanese Culture

Bhutanese culture is greatly intertwined with its Buddhist heritage. Visiting Bhutan you can witness this combination reflecting in the various aspects of everyday life. The traditional dress, known as Kho for men and Kira for women, showcases the country's rich history. It is commonly worn during festivals and special occasions. The official language, Dzongkha, also highlights the nation's unique cultural identity.

Bhutan cultural events often feature masked dances and dance dramas accompanied by traditional music. Such cultural activities give visitors an immersive experience of the nation's history and culture. One of the most notable aspects of Bhutanese culture is its national sport, archery, which is more than just a sport; it's a social and ceremonial event that brings communities together.

Another distinctive element of Bhutanese tradition is its matrilineal inheritance system, where property is passed down through the female line. Daughters inherit their parents' home, while men are expected to establish their place in the world. Traditionally, husbands are invited to move into their wives' homes, reflecting the importance of female leadership and family in Bhutanese society.

Buddha Dordenma, Thimphu

The Great Buddha Dordenma is a massive golden statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that stands proudly on a cliff in Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park.

This iconic statue is one of the top Bhutan places to visit, drawing hundreds of devotees daily. These devotees meditate in the spacious meditation hall adorned with 125,000 miniature Buddhas.

The site offers breathtaking views of Thimphu Valley and the surrounding snow-capped mountains. Arriving in the evening allows you to experience a stunning sunset and witness the illuminated statue that glows beautifully against the night sky.

This majestic sight adds to the overall experience and showcases why it is a must-see attraction in Bhutan.

Meditation Essentials

Bhutan's peace and happiness are rooted in meditation, inspired by its culture. The people of Bhutan strongly believe in meditation and promote it widely, offering an array of meditation products across local markets and high-end showrooms.

While shopping in Bhutan, you can discover a range of meditation items such as prayer flags, incense sticks, resin statues, and prayer beads, among other unique offerings. Purchasing these products is an excellent way to bring a piece of Bhutan back home with you.

The weekend market in Thimphu, which typically runs from Thursday to Sunday, is a great place to find meditation products. You can shop for various items at affordable prices, from jewellery to prayer bells. Remember, bargaining is key to getting the best deals.

In Paro, Lama Tshering Dorji General Shop, a monk's store, offers everything you need for your meditation routine, including amulets, lamps, and incense sticks. This shop is a treasure trove for anyone seeking spiritual items and a deep connection to spirituality.

Dochula Pass, Thimphu

Bhutan's beautiful mountains include the stunning Dochula Pass. This mountain pass stands on the route from Thimphu to Punakha and is located 30 km from Thimphu at an elevation of 3,100 metres.

One of the main attractions of the pass is the 108 commemorating stupas built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These stupas are a peaceful sight for both locals and tourists.

Dochula Pass also has a monastery that honours the fourth leader of Bhutan and is the place for the annual Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival. Many people visit Dochula Pass to enjoy views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

It is a popular place to see in Bhutan and should be on your list of Bhutan things to do. The best times to visit are from March to May or September to November when the weather is clear.

Thangkas or Local Paintings

The Thangka is a local Bhutanese artwork considered sacred by the locals. The locals cherish these scroll paintings for their spiritual and cultural significance.

The word "Thangka" means rolled up, and the paintings are drawn on cloth or silk applique using various background colours.

Typically, the artwork is block-printed or embroidered. When visiting Bhutan, a Thangka makes a great memory to take home.

You can purchase one from the School of Arts and Crafts in major cities. Prices for an authentic, high-quality Thangka range from BTN 12,000 to BTN 50,000 (USD 170 to USD 700), while an original Thangka may cost you around BTN 5,000 (USD 72).

Haa Valley

A visit to Bhutan is not complete without exploring the stunning Haa Valley. This remote region boasts a rich diversity of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers. For outdoor enthusiasts, Haa Valley offers incredible opportunities for hiking and biking on its scenic trails.

The relatively low population ensures the area is less crowded, giving visitors a peaceful and intimate experience with nature.

One of the best aspects of Haa Valley is its off-the-beaten-path location, providing an unparalleled view of Chomolhari along the journey to the valley. Haa Valley is located in Western Bhutan, near the border with Sikkim, India.

This picturesque destination is a must-visit for those who want to experience Bhutan's natural beauty.

Royal Manas National Park

You might be mistaken if you believe Bhutan is merely known for its Buddhist monasteries. Royal Manas National Park, the oldest wildlife park in Bhutan, is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and spans an area of 1,057 square kilometres.

This national park is home to many endangered species, such as the Royal Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino, Gangetic dolphin, clouded leopard, and Himalayan black bear.

If lucky, you can also spot the rare golden langur here, making it a unique experience altogether.

Visiting Royal Manas National Park offers a chance to experience Bhutan's wilderness. Activities like hiking and elephant safaris provide exciting opportunities to explore the park's diverse flora and fauna.

The park's southern border is connected to India's Manas Tiger Reserve. For the best experience, plan your visit between November and March. Though the park is in Thimphu, it is a must-see for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Bhutan's natural beauty.

Chele La, Paro

Chele La is one of the most stunning destinations to visit in Bhutan. Located nearly 4,000 metres above sea level, it is 36 kilometres from Paro Town.

A two-hour journey from Paro Valley will take you to Chele La Pass. The drive to Chele La is an exciting experience. It passes through thick spruce and larch forests, roadside springs, and waterfalls.

Once you reach Chele La, you are treated to breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks dividing Paro Valley and Haa Valley.

Enjoy panoramic views of the majestic Himalayas from Chele La, including Bhutan's sacred peak, Mt. Jhomolari, the Tsherimgang mountains and Jichu Drake. This location provides a perfect vantage point to soak Bhutan's natural beauty and grandeur.

Simtokha Dzong, Thimphu

Dzongs in Bhutan are a major tourist attraction and play a significant role in the country's tourism industry. These "temple fortresses" are culturally and historically important, one notable example being Simtokha Dzong.

Simtokha Dzong is located in Thimphu, Bhutan, and was built in 1629, making it the country's first building of its kind. This small but significant dzong was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan.

Today, Simtokha Dzong serves as a museum and a leading learning centre for Dzongkha, the local language. Its historical importance and unique architecture make it a must-visit spot for those exploring Bhutan's rich heritage.

Conclusion

When planning a trip to Bhutan, a country known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, it is essential to prioritise your safety and peace of mind. Securing a comprehensive travel insurance policy is crucial to your trip.

Travel insurance plans can protect against unexpected events such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and luggage loss.

For instance, Tata AIG offers various travel insurance plans tailored to different needs, including flight ticket insurance and overseas travel insurance. These policies cover medical expenses, trip interruptions, and other uncertain events.

Having travel insurance is especially important when travelling abroad to destinations like Bhutan. It ensures you are covered in unforeseen challenges. Before your trip, take the time to explore different travel insurance options and select a plan that suits your specific travel plans and budget.

FAQS

Do I need a Visa to visit Bhutan from India?

No, Indian travellers do not require a Visa to travel to Bhutan.

What is the best time to visit Bhutan?

The ideal time to visit Bhutan falls between September to November and March to May.

Can I use Indian currency in Bhutan?

Yes, you can use Indian rupees in Bhutan.

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