The tiny kingdom of Bhutan nestles in the foothills of the Himalayas, a short 1 hour 40 minute flight from Delhi in India. In a country roughly the size of Switzerland, some 700,000 people live in peace and tranquillity, measuring the success of their country not in Gross National Product as most of us do, but in Gross National Happiness.
The feeling of happiness is everywhere, showing in the contented faces of everyone you pass, the friendly welcome everywhere you go and the overall feeling that one is visiting and witnessing something really, really special.
The country has virtually no naturally flat spaces, but consists of high mountains and deep valleys. The well maintained road system clings to the valley sides and twists and turns as nature has dictated. In total contrast to India, no horns sound – there is no need! The capital city Thimphu is the only capital city in the world to have no traffic lights at all and the pretty traditionally built houses and buildings cover the valley floor – there is not a single skyscraper to be seen. Looking out over the city is a 50m tall Buddha keeping a weather eye on his subjects. He was built as a celebration and although not quite complete, still makes a compelling visit in this remarkable city.
Bhutan welcomes it’s visitors, but has cleverly devised a visa scheme that ensures that just enough visitors arrive – this is not a destination for a backpacker, although many would love to come. It is a destination for a carefully planned visit highlighting the very best of this tiny mountain kingdom.
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