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Bhutan History

Bhutan, also known as Drukyul (Land of the Thunder Dragon) is a small landlocked country in eastern Himalayas with an area of 38,394 square km (14,824 square miles). The geographical landscape of Bhutan makes a big sandwich; China in the north and India in the south, east and west. The isolation of the country has been opened to the world only in 1960s, with first road built from Phuntsholing to Thimphu and starting of tourism in 1974. With the period of time, the country has developed drastically with an emphasis of philosophy of Gross National Happiness which is considered to be more important than Gross Domestic Product.

Bhutan was inhibited since the 2000BC but not much information could be found about prehistoric evidence. Few monuments, Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro are the depictions of existence of Buddhism in the country. These two temples were built since the 7th century by Buddhist Tibetan King, Songtsen Gempo in a day to subdue an ogress who was preventing the King in spreading Buddhism in the Himalayan region. The 8th century is a remarkable period when Guru Rinpoche, also known as Precious Master came to Bhutan from Tibet and flourished Buddhism. He was credited for founding the great and famous site, Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest in Paro, where he meditated for few months. Thereafter, many religious saints and scholars from Tibet visited Bhutan. New historic era was started in the 17th century. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal came to Bhutan from Tibet in 1616AD and unified the country. He built many Dzong or fortresses in Bhutan, which still are standing throughout the country accommodating both spiritual and administrative offices.

Bhutan survived internal instability until the early 20th century. The year 1907 marked the dawn of modernized and stable era with coronation of the first king of Bhutan, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Since 1960s road network, telecommunication, education, tourism, hydro-electricity and many more were started. Bhutan also joined UNO and other international organizations, opening prolonged isolation. The key to development was Gross National Happiness unlike many other countries in the world. People’s happiness has become more important than materialism with preservation of cultural heritage and natural environment. The Fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck even steered the country to Democratic Constitution in 2008 with any revolution.

His Majesty the Fifth King also known as People’s King has a vision for Bhutan interprets as follows: “If every single day, every Bhutanese respects our culture and traditions, our environment, if we uphold the law, if we safeguard everything that is important to Bhutan and to our future generations, if we do our jobs to the best of our abilities, then we will always continue to build a strong nation, according to our aspirations, unique to our own way of life.” People of Bhutan live in blissful, in the warm wings of the great farsighted leaders.

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