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Capital: Thimphu
Official Language: Dzongkha
Religion: Mahayana Buddhism.
Population: 750000
Location: Located in the eastern Himalayas; Bhutan is bordered Tibet in the north and the Indian states of Assam and west Bengal in the east west and south.
Altitude: Varying from 180mmetres to 7550 meters above the sea level.
Local Time: Six hours ahead of GMT and half an hour ahead of Indian Standard Time.
National Sport: Archery.
National Dress: Gho (Men) & Kira (Women).
National Tree: Cypress.
National Flower: Blue Poppy.
National Bird: Raven.
National Animal: Takin.

History of Bhutan

Bhutan’s early history stepped in Buddhist folklore and mythology; it features tremendous deeds and begins with supernatural powers. It is said that a saint who had the ability to appear in eight different forms, one of them being Guru Rinpoche, visited Bhutan on a flying tiger and left the imprint of his body and his hat on rocks.

Many of the important events in the country early history involved saints and religious leaders and were therefore arranged only in scriptures. Most of these original documents were destroyed in fires in the printing works of Sonagatshel in 1828 and in Punakha Dzong in 1832. Much of what was left in the old capital of Punakha was also lost in an earthquake in 1897 and more record was lost when Paro Dzong burned in 1907. Therefore much of the early history of Bhutan relies on reports from British explorers, on legend and folklore, and the manuscripts that escaped these disasters.

Archaeological evidence suggests that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 1500-2000BC by nomadic herders who lived in low-lying valleys in winter and moved their animals to high pasture in summer. Many Bhutanese still lived in low-lying valleys in winter and moved their animals to high pastures in summer. Many Bhutanese still live this way today. The valleys of Bhutan provided relatively easy access across the Himalaya, and it is believed that the Manas River valley used as a migration route from India to Tibet.

Some of the early inhabitants of Bhutan were followers of Bon (Known as Ben Cho in Bhutan), the animistic tradition that was the main religion throughout the Himalayan region before the advent of Buddhism. It is believed that the Bon religion was introduced in Bhutan in the 6th century AD.

Buddhism was probably first introduced to parts of Bhutan as early as the 2nd century, although most historians agree that the first Buddhist temples were built in the 7th century AD.

The kingdom of Cooch Behar, in what is now West Bengal, influenced Bhutan from the early days. The rulers of Cooch Behar established themselves in Bhutan, but their influence faded in the 7th century AD as the influence of Tibet grew along with the introduction of Buddhism.

13 Traditional arts & crafts of Bhutan

craft woman in bhutanIn the land of Drukyul, all the series of traditional skills and crafts is basically defined as zorigchusum. (ZO stands for the ability to make, rig means the science or craft, and chusum is thirteen). Zorigchusum refers to those practices that came to picture as a result of its steady development through the centuries, often passed down from generations to generations with its long-standing relations to a particular craft. Even though theses skills were existed from our grant grandparents time all over the country, Bhutanese believed that the Zorigchusum was first formally categorized during the rule of the 4th Desi Tenzin Rabgye(1680-94). The following guidelines provide a glimpse of the thirteen traditional crafts:

  1. Dezo-Paper Art

The traditional Bhutanese paper commonly called as deysho are made mainly from a plant called Daphne and gum from a root of creeper.

  1. Dozo- Masonary

Stone arts are widely used for the construction purposes. It is used in constructing stone pools and the outer walls of Dzongs, monasteries and some other building.

  1. Garzo-Blacksmithing

This art stresses on the manufacture of iron goods like swords, farm tools, knives and other utensils.

  1. Jinzo-Sculpture

The basic function of this piece of art is to make objects used at the time of performing rituals and religious statues, pottery and is also essential in the construction of buildings using mortar, plaster and rammed earth.

  1. Lhazo-Painting

This is one peculiar type of arts where is deals with the images on religious wall hangings (Thangkas), statues and walls painitings and finally, to the decorations on window-frames and furniture.

  1. Lugzo- Casting

Lungzo functions with the production of bronze statues, ritual instruments and bells, in addition to household items using sand casting and jewelry.

  1. Parzo-Carving

The carving is depicted on stone, wood or slate which is used for making items such as printing blocks for religious texts, masks, furniture, altars, and the slate images containing many shrines and altars.

  1. Shagzo-Woodturning

This technique of arts applied in making diverse of bowls, plates, cups and other containers. An example can be dapa and za-phob.

  1. Shingzo-Woodwork

The vital application of this form of art is in the construction of dzongs, temples, houses and some other household goods.

  1. Thagzo-weaving and dying

The intrinsic pattern of our national dress is the fantastic outcome of this art. It includes all the process of weaving starting from the preparation of yarn, the dying and its final weaving to produce different patterns and designs of various forms.

  1. Troko-Ornament Making

This is basically dealt with shaping and processing ornaments. Its working requires gold, silver and copper to make jewelry and other essential items used for rituals and household purposes.

  1. Tshazo-Care and bamboo working

The production of unbelievable instruments of numerous styles and patterns like baskets, bows and arrows, utensils, drinks containers, traditional fences and mats and some of the musical instruments are the achievement of this art.

  1. Tshemzo-Embroidery and stitching

Among the different forms of arts Tshemzo works with needle and thread      to make and stitch various clothes, boots and thangkas.

Textiles of Bhutan

TextileThe Bhutanese textiles become more evident in the last century. As textile production moved beyond the confines of clothing to artistic expression of individuals and communities, patronage from the royal household was vital.

Although the founders of the Wangchuk dynasty are from Bumthang, their ancestral home is in Lhuentse district, which was historically recognized as the home of the most celebrated weavers in the country. The role and influence of royal women in sustaining and furthering the weaving tradition must be acknowledged. Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal built the Wangdichholing palace in 1857 the loom house (Thagchem) accommodating 30 to 40 weavers, were built around the same time near the palace and existed until the mid 1900s.

Bhutanese textiles are a unique art form inspired by nature made in the form of clothing, crafts and different types of pots in eye-catching blend of color texture, pattern and composition. Bhutan textile represents a rich and complex repository of a unique art form. They are recognized for their abundance of color, sophistication and variation of patterns, and the intricate dyeing and weaving techniques. The weavers are mostly women, must not be seen merely as creator of wealth but also as the innovators and owners of artistic skills developed and nurtured over centuries of time.

 

The National Emblem (The Royal Crest)

The National emblem, contained in circle, is composed of a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between secular and religious power; which results from the Buddhist religion in its varying form. The lotus symbolizes the purity; the jewel-sovereign power; and the two dragons, male and female stand for the name of the country-the thunder.

Bhutan Travel Guides on Paintings

School of traditional ArtsMost Bhutanese art, including ‘Painting in Bhutanese art’, known as lhazo, is invariably religion centric. These are made by artists without inscribing their on them. A Thangka, variously spelt as Tangka, Thanka or Tanka is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, or silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala.  Thagkas are traditionally kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, mounted on a textile backing somewhat in the style of Chinese scroll paintings, with a further silk cover on the front. So treated, Thangkas can last a long time, but because of their delicate nature, they have to be kept in dry places where moisture wills not affect the quality of the silk.

Most thankas are relatively small, comparable in size to a Western half-length portrait, but some are extremely large, several meters in each dimension; these were designed to be displayed, typically for very brief periods on a monastery wall, as part of religious festivals. Most thankas were intended for personal meditation or instruction of monastic students. They often have elaborate compositions including many very small figures. A central deity is often surrounded by other identified figures in a symmetrical composition.

Bhutan Travel Guides on Sculptures of Bhutan

Zorig ChusumBhutanese are famous for the quality and the intricacy of their clay sculpture, representing deities and religious figures. The basic material used for making the sculptures is clay, which is known as Jinzob. The most renowned craftsmen come from Heyphu monastery (Neyphu) in Paro valley and have worked the world over. The quality of the image also comes from the mixture of clay and other materials such as paper, used. The mixing ad beating of clay is done by hand and then the artist on a bamboo or light wood framework shapes the image. Pottery is most of the time included under sculpture although the daily utensils have a simple shape. Women often did pottery.

Bhutan Travel Guides Paper making in Bhutan

Handmade paper known as deysho is in popular usage in Bhutan and it is durable and insect resistant. The basic material used is the bark of the Daphne plant. This paper is used for printing religious texts; traditional books etc.

In 1990, the Ministry of trade and industry established the Jungshi handmade paper factory (Jungshi meaning natural) in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, to expand the old domestic skill for commercial purposes, and thus gave ancient art relevance in the modern world. Today, they export their products to US, Japan, Europe, India and Nepal. We were invited to get a closer look at all the steps involved in the manufacturing process, from raw material to finished product.

Bhutan Wood Carving

Wood carving known as Parzo is a specialized and ancient form of art, which is significantly blended with modern buildings in the resurgent Bhutan. Carving in Bhutan has been experimented with and perfected in a variety of materials like stone, wood and slate. Traditional Bhutanese designs carved on these materials are the most wonderful piece of artwork.

Since Bhutan has an abundant variety of wood, woodcarving is seen in many forms. Carved wooden masks of various shapes and sizes are used in religious dances, decorations are found engraved on houses, Dzongs, palaces, temples and monasteries. Wood carving was introduced in CTAS in the 2002-2003 academic years.

Bamboo Craft by Bhutanese

Bamboo Craft made with cane and bamboo is known as thazo. It is made in many rural communities in many regions of Bhutan. Few special items of this art form are the belo and the bangchung, popularly known as the Bhutanese “Tupperware” basket made in various sizes. Baskets of varying sizes are used in the homes and for travel on horseback, and as flasks for local drink called the Arra. People in central Bhutan often spend the quieter winter months-after harvest is over in making bamboo crafts for daily use. Bamboo baskets and cane containers (Bangchus) are used in every home as plates and containers. Traditional cane hats are popular while tea strainers, winnowing baskets, and bamboo mats are utilities. Bhutan’s cane craftwork is colored in natural dye like turmeric and lac.

Bhutan Travel Guides for weather and climate

The southern part of Bhutan is tropical, and in general, the east of Bhutan is warmer than the west of the country. The central valley of Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhuntse enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters, while Thimphu, Trongsa and Bumthang have a much harsher climate, with heavy monsoon rains in the summer and heavy snow fall in winter.

Winter in Bhutan starts from mid-November till mid-March, and at this time of the year the climate is dry with day time temperature of 16-18° C and night time temperature falling below zero. The monsoon usually arrives in mid-June, with the rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings. Autumn starts from September to November.Check daily weather

Place Jan/Feb Mar/Apr May/June July/Aug Sep/Oct Nov/Dec
Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min Max Min
Paro +13 +3 +15 +3 +23 +13 +25 +15 +22 +10 +12 +3
Thimphu +14 0 +16 +6 +22 +14 +27 +17 +20 +13 +16 +1
Punakha +18 +7 +24 +9 +22 +10 +26 +13 +25 +11 +22 +9
Wangduephodrang +17 +7 +24 +11 +28 +18 +29 +20 +26 +17 +22 +7
Trongsa +12 +1 +16 +2 +20 +14 +18 +14 +17 +13 +16 +9
Bumthang +10 +1 +16 +5 +18 +10 +21 +13 +19 +11 +15 +2
Mongar +23 +10 +27 +11 +30 +20 +35 +22 +30 +18 +25 +8
Trashigang +16 +4 +19 +7 +20 +13 +22 +14 +20 +11 +16 +9

Travel Distance & time between various places in Bhutan

Bhutan Travel Guide also give you the information on distance between each places and mode of transport within Bhutan.

However, motor roads are well maintained and link all parts of the country. The mountainous terrain and winding roads restrict the average driving speed of vehicle to less than 35 kilometers per hour.

From To Distance [in Km] Driving Time [approx]
Thimphu Paro 54 2 Hrs.
Thimphu Phuntsholing 172 6 Hrs.
Thimphu Wangdue Phodrang 70 3 Hrs.
Thimphu Punakha 76 3 Hrs.
Punakha Wangdue Phodrang 17 40 Mins.
Wangdue Phodrang Trongsa 129 5 Hrs.
Trongsa Bumthang 68 3 Hrs.
Bumthang Mongar 198 7 Hrs.
Mongar Lhuntshi 76 3 Hrs.
Mongar Trashigang 91 3 Hrs.
Trashigang Chorten Kora 52 2 Hrs.
Trashigang Samdrup Jongkhar 180 7 Hrs.
Samdrup Jongkhar Guwahati (India) 110 3 Hrs.
Samdrup Jongkhar Phuentsholing 380 10 Hrs.
Phuntsholing Bagdogara 170 4 Hrs

Road Map of Bhutan

Map-of-Bhutan

Bhutan Tour Packages

Bhutan has multiple packages to offer starting from Trekking, Hiking, Cultural Tours, Spiritual Journeys, and Wedding package.