24 April 2017, Monday
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About: Bhutan

Climate

Bhutan is at the same latitude as Miami and Cairo. The climate varies widely depending on the elevation. In the southern border areas it is tropical; at the other extreme, in the high Himalayan regions, there is perpetual snow. Bhutan primarily has four seasons and the climate varies depending on the altitude. March to May is spring and the weather is pleasant with flowers and trees blossoming. June to August is summer, also referred to as the monsoon season as we get plenty of rain. September to November is autumn and December to February is winter. Thimphu’s temperature ranges from 15 to 26 degree Celsius in summer and -4 to 16 degree Celsius in winter. Central Bhutan usually experiences cooler temperature in the summer and colder in winter. The climate in southern Bhutan is hot and humid ranging from 15 to 40 degree Celsius throughout the year. Rain varies in different parts of the country and in different seasons and years. Similarly with the snow, while central Bhutan usually enjoys snowfall every year, snowfall in the western region is not predictable. Climate, and therefore season, is certainly a consideration when planning your trip to Bhutan, especially if you are trekking. Bhutan’s altitude range, from subtropical valleys to alpine peaks, and its busy festival calendar means you can pretty much visit Bhutan at any time of the year to explore its attractions and witness colourful festivals. One can visit Bhutan any time of the year. There is no ‘appropriate season’ as such, which is to say that Bhutan’s warm and temperate climate, never-ending festivals and rich and abundant heritage sites provide visitors with a wide array of experiences throughout the year across the country.

Festivals

Festivals in the Land of the Thunder Dragon are rich and happy expressions of its ancient Buddhist culture. These festivals are held in all districts in honour of Guru Rinpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Tsechus are held on auspicious days and months in the Bhutanese calendar, and last up to four days in which a series of highly stylised masked dance rituals are performed. The festivals include Punakha Dromche, Punakha Tshechu, Takin Festival, Nomad Bumthang, Chhorten Kora, Trashi Yangtse, Gomphukora, Trashigang Paro Tshechu,Paro Chukha Tshechu, Chukha.T he most popular for tourists are those held in Thimphu & Paro and those seeking a more intimate Bhutan experience should consider avoiding these major festivals as they mark the busiest time of the year for the tourism industry.

Gastronomy

Bhutanese food is generally good. The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillis are an essential part of nearly every dish.Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. Vegetables commonly eaten include Spinach, pumpkins, radishes, tomatoes, onions and green beans. Grains such as rice, buckwheat and are also cultivated in various regions of the country depending on the local climate. Momos, Tibetan-style dumplings are stuffed with pork, beef or cabbages and cheese. Ema Datshi is the de facto National Dish of Bhutan. A spicy mix of chillis and the delicious local cheese known as Datshi. Phaksha Paa is pork cooked with spicy red chillis. This dish can also include Radishes or Spinach. A popular variation uses sun-dried (known as Sicaam). Jasha Maru is Spicy minced chicken, tomatoes and other ingredients that is usually served with rice. Goep which is also known as Tripe is like most other meat dishes, it is cooked with plenty of spicy chillis and chilli powder.

Geography

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a sovereign nation, located towards the eastern extreme of the Himalayas mountain range. It is sandwiched between, the People's Republic of China on the north and northwest. The second nation is the Republic of India on the south, southwest, and east; there are approximately 605 kilometers with the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, and Sikkim, in clockwise order from the kingdom. Bhutan is a very compact nation, but with just a small bit more length than width. The nation's territory totals an approximate 46,500 square kilometers. Because of its inland, landlocked status, it controls no territorial waters. It is popularly known as the ‘Switzerland of Asia’ since its shape, area, and mountainous location are comparable to that of Switzerland. Bhutan's total borders amount to 1,075 kilometers. The Kingdom of Nepal to the west, the People's Republic of Bangladesh to the south, and the Union of Myanmar to the southeast are other close neighbor’s; the former two are separated by only very small stretches of Indian Territory.

History

Bhutan was inhabited 4000 years ago; there were archeological evident indicating settlements in Bhutan dating back to 2000-1500 BC. Although its early history is vague, Bhutan seems to have existed as a political entity for many centuries. At the beginning of the 16th cent. it was ruled by a dual monarchy consisting of a Dharma Raja, or spiritual ruler, and a Deb Raja, or temporal ruler.Aboriginal Bhutanese, known as Monpa, are believed to have migrated from Tibet. The traditional name of the country has been Drukyul, Land of the Drokpa (Dragon People). For centuries, Bhutan was made up of feuding regions until it was unified under King Ugyen Wangchuck in 1907. The Britishers tried to curb over Bhutan's affairs, but never colonized it. Until the 1960s, Bhutan was largely isolated from the rest of the world, and its people carried on a tranquil, traditional way of life, farming and trading, which had remained intact for centuries. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was Bhutan's fourth hereditary ruler, voluntarily curtailed his monarchy, and in March 2005 released a draft constitution which stated that the country to shift to a two-party democracy. In Dec. 2006, his son, Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchukin became king. Prime Minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk resigned in July 2007 so he could join a political party in anticipation of the country's first elections, scheduled to be held in early 2008. Lyonpo Kinzang Dorji took over as the interim prime minister.

Population

Bhutan’s population is listed as 752,700 in the year 2003. The CIA Factbook in 2003 estimated the population at 2,327,849. Bhutanese primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. Southerners meaning “Lhotshampa” are group of most Nepali. It was claimed these people constituted 45% of the population in 1988 census. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops, the dominant group, who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism. In the early 1970s, intermarriage between the Lhotshampas and mainstream Bhutanese society was encouraged by the government, but after the late 1980s, the Bhutanese government forced about 108,000 Lhotshampas from their homes, seized their land, and expelled them to refugee camps.

Religion

Bhutan is one of the most religious countries in the Tibetan Buddhist world. And like in all Buddhist nations, festivals have a special place in the hearts of its residents. Most of the Bhutanese festivals commemorate the deeds of the Buddha, or those of the great masters of the past associated with one Buddhist tradition or another. Bhutan has two main religions Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism. The Bhutanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion and citizens and visitors are free to practice any form of worship so long as it does not impinge on the rights of others. Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are also present in the country.