Bhutan has been on my bucket list for a long time, so when I heard that my friends were planning a trip, I tagged along.
I am so glad that I did because Bhutan is so beautiful, green, disciplined and has low population density, making it an ideal place to visit for a holiday.
It is really a surprise, that though it was recognised by United Nations, as a country only in 1974, it has been able to control its population. It has just over 774,000 people for an area of 38,394 square kms.
Bhutan measures its economic prosperity not in terms of GDP but in terms of overall health of the nation.
This is measured by four pillars, sustainable development, environment protection, cultural preservation and good governance which together form the Gross National Happiness (GNH).
It is really committed to protecting the environment and if anybody is found guilty of harming the sacred black necked cranes, which come in hundreds in Haa Valley or Phobjika during winters each year, that he is sentenced to life imprisonment.
As per their constitution, 60 per cent of the country must remain a forest and that is the reason why it is world’s only “Carbon sink” (it absorbs more CO2 than it produces).
Import and sale of tobacco is banned in the country and there are heavy penalties if you are caught smoking in public.
The capital city, Thimpu is the only second city in the world which does not have a single traffic light. Pyongyang (North Korea) being the other. The traffic is so systematic that when the lone policeman manning a traffic “signal” goes off duty at 5pm each day, the traffic continues the same way as if he was there.
The only way to cross the road in the city is through the zebra crossing. People breaking this law are fined Rs 1200- on the spot.
Bhutanese lay a lot of emphasis on their culture and its preservation. TV was allowed in the country only 11 years ago and all Bhutanese nationals must dress in their traditional dress when entering Govt offices and in their work places.
The country is officially Buddhist and largely Hindu but the state does not interfere in dietary habits of its citizens some of whom consume meat, including beef, imported from India.
It is amazing to see that despite poverty Bhutan is the happiest country in Asia and its citizens are proud of their country. Though it is a constitutional monarchy they love their Dragon King, as he is called, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Unlike some countries Bhutan walks the talk when it comes to Women’s Empowerment. We saw Hotels, Shops & Restaurants being manned by young women, also in each hotel we stayed, 95 percent of the employees were women.
Such a beautiful country, it should be on everyone’s “must do” list.