The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas, bordered by China ( Tibet) to the north and northwest, and by the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Sikkim on the east, south and west respectively. With an area of 46,500 square kms Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland both in its size and topography. It was the mighty Himalayas which protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left the Kingdom blissfully untouched. The Drukpa Kagyupa school of Mahayana Buddhism provided the essence of a rich culture and a fascinating history. The Bhutanese people protected this sacred heritage and unique identity for centuries by choosing to remain shrouded in a jealously guarded isolation.
The Kingdom is peopled sparsely by a population of 0.6 million. Three main ethnic groups constitute Bhutan’s population; the Sharchopas, who are held to be indigenous inhabitants, the Ngalogpas whose descendent is traced to neighboring Tibet and the Lhotshampas, recent immigrants of Nepalese origin. The inhabitants of Bhutan are gracious gentle and very hospitable, they are peace loving and possess lively sense of humor.
For much of the 20th century, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan was all but forgotten by the world; indeed, in a country where television has only been allowed since 1999, the modern age passed much of Bhutan by. A land of deep valleys and dzong (fortresses) perched on precarious peaks, it is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world. Its continued isolation is no longer an accident: Bhutan’s traditional culture is strictly protected and visitors carefully regulated. In the only country in the world where tobacco sales are banned and the capital has no traffic lights, the opportunity to experience a place time forgot isn’t a vacation, it’s a privilege.