The Little Buddhist Mountain Kingdom, Bhutan, March 2018


Kuzuzampong la! It has been another world exploring Bhutan, the little Bhuddist Mountain Kingdom which is nestled to the south of Tibet. Whitewashed box-like fortresses and monasteries sit perched on top of cliffsides clinging to the southern Himalaya and towns and villages are sprinkled along the steep valley walls. Spring has been a wonderful time to visit with the blush of delicate pink peach blossom spreading over the valleys.

The majority of this journey has been taken up with the trek in the Bhutan Himalaya but I’ve had the chance to travel a little across Western and central Bhutan to the capital Thimphu and the towns of Paro, Punakha and the Phobjikha Valley to where the endangered black-necked cranes migrate each winter from Tibet. It’s mountain scenery, its traditional culture and its gentle Buddhist people who receive you with warmth are the real highlights of Bhutan. I was also fortunate to time my visit with the annual Paro Festival – a celebration for which the town folk dress in their finest and gather with families to watch a religious and cultural program of masked dances and symbolic storytelling directed by the Monastery. The rich dress and multi-generational gathering were a fascinating glimpse of the face of Bhutan.

The modern world is yet to catch up with this little Himalayan hermitage as it deliberately remains closed to much international contact while fiercely defending its highly traditional lifestyle. Claiming to be the happiest place on Earth, new laws must pass the test of the Gross National Happiness Commission to be enacted – the question their leaders ask is can a modern Bhutanese Society be happy? I question how long will Bhutan be able to remain locked in its golden cage?

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