Tucked away in the Himalayas.
Landlocked between India, Tibet, China, and Nepal.
Situated at 2700 ft above sea level.
Surrounded by piercing mountains.
Whence oftentimes violent and large thunderstorms whip down through its valleys, and wherein few pilots are qualified to fly through its valley to its airport, here indeed is one place that is resplendent in physical splendour and rich heritage.
Known as "Druk Yul" - Land of the Thunder Dragon, its people have been known to be among the happiest in the world!
This tiny kingdom is Bhutan.
Is it Bhutanese cuisine that makes happy?
Well, sort of. But not quite the big picture.
Bhutanese are happy when their food is spicy and aren't generally pleased if their national dish, ema datshi, isn't present at every meal.
What is this "having but not needing more" that contributes to Bhutanese's happiness?
According to Ms Kezang Chuki, who oversees Jamtsho Bhutan Tours, Bhutanese inhabits a celebratory attitude that is innate in their culture.
Where elsewhere, festivals are being increasingly celebrated for their commercial appeal, in Bhutan you witness to the true spirit of celebration at festivals.
This celebratory attitude is infectious and pervades into their daily life.
It is not uncommon to witness to Bhutanese dancing by themselves in public. This is, by no means, the only activity they express happiness.
Wherever they are, whatever they do, happiness abounds!
According to Pema, a guide to many dignitaries and visitors, he attributes Bhutan's infectious happiness to the mystic vibes of ancient past that pervade the land and bless its people.
This pristine purity of the Kingdom seems to rub on many foreigners as well.
The moment you set foot in the kingdom, you will begin to feel an unmistakable sense of well-being and love of self.
People are kind, compassionate and full of laughters.
Mountain ranges and valleys are truly a sight to behold.
Dzongs (monastic fortresses) and monasteries carry a distinctive character and aura that envelope you.
In short, Bhutan inspires a sense of awe.
Bhutan is one of the few remaining unspoiled country that protects its rich biodiversity.
A sight to behold!
Of beautiful mountains and valleys.
A birder's paradise.
Over 60% of the kingdom is forested and remains originally intact.
Can you not be happy when you are close to untouched natural beauty, and when eyes see afar into the horizon unblocked by walls?
Can you not feel delighted having animals grace your presence?
One could infer this is the originating place from which the seed of happiness had been sown in Bhutan.
Historically, It's where the "second buddha" is said to have meditated in the 7th century AD. He spread a way of life rather than a religion that is Buddhism.
Also known as Paro Taktsang, it is a small monastery hung far up on a cliff overlooking a spectacular valley.
It is not uncommon to hear visitors experience a sudden epiphany here.
Another one of Bhutan's famous sites.
Offering stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range.
Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu, perched at an altitude of 10,200 feet.
Many tourists experience romantically stunning experience of an epiphany here too! The Dochula Pass, Memorial Chortens and Punakha Dzong combined could have been catalytic to their moment of epiphany.
I won't go into their history but for a sense of the aesthetic, the Dzongs (fortresses) are a sight to behold Bhutanese architecture.
These buildings are built on stones instead of clay without a single nail!
Whitewashed walls contrast with painted woodwork and tapered roofs accentuate a sense of the aesthetic.
The use of Dzongs today are not unlike buildings of State Administration but with one unique distinction. They also house monastic order or monks.
Used for both administrative and religious purposes, it's dual functions are instrumental to sustaining happiness among its people.
If you are staying in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, an evening visit at Thimphu Tashichho Dzong ought to be your first sight or site initiation into the enchantment of Bhutan.
This Dzong has a commanding view of the Thimpu valley. Manicured gardens and lawns complement this building.
Where the external facade beholds an impressive view, wait till you see the inside. It's even better!
No. Your next stop is not an invitation to pluck cherries and tango oranges.
For day hikes and trails around Thimphu, a 30-minute drive from Thimphu remains among the top of every visitor's itinerary.
I am referring to the trip Cheri Monastery and Tango Monastery - a 60- minute hike up two hills. There's something endearing about the vibes here: peace and serenity.
First, take the time to soaked in panoramic view of Thimphu city. When you have enough of visual delight, it's time to calm the senses.
Spend some time inside Cheri Monastery. Sit in quiet and meditate for 15 mins. You will feel invigorated.
Get to know the monks there. Their spiritual presence will rub on you.
This bronze statue can be seen from just about anywhere in Thimphu.
So why go to Buddha View Point then?
Blessing wise - nothing compares standing next to a seated Buddha!
Hidden esoteric teachings known as ancient terma of the Adept Padmasambhva recorded during the eight century, and rediscovered some 800 years later, prophesied that a large statue of the Buddha would be build here to bestow blessings, peace and happiness.
Seated at 169 ft on a hill above Thimphu town, you get a perfect place to enjoy stunning, panoramic views of Thimphu City.
And for nature lovers, you have Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park.
This nature park comprising 943.4 areas of forest area, surrounds the Buddha Dordenma statue.
This kingdom is a model of beauty in simplicity; in having but not needing more.
Such as in its policy on tourism: Low volume; high impact.
Hence, to experience Bhutan, you need to book through a tour agent and you need a guide.
With most people, a tour guide takes you to places and events of attraction. However, Pema and Kezang see their roles a little quite differently.
Through the people, activities, events and places they introduce in Bhutan, they hope to facilitate a process that enables every visitor to effortlessly find the “jewels” resident in their heart and mind.
In short, they hope to help visitors rediscover happiness and a sacredness that is in them through the mirror reflection of Bhutan.
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