BHUTAN, The Last Shangri-La or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, as Bhutan is known, is perhaps the last bastion of the Mahayana Buddhism in the Himalayas. Situated in the great Himalayan range, it is bordered by the Tibetan regions of China in the north and the sweltering plains of India in the south. The Kingdom is spread over 46,500 square feet with varied climatic conditions ranging from the sub-tropical to the cold reaches of the almost 25,000 ft snow-capped mountain ranges of the Tibetan border.
With a population of around 0.6 million, it is thinly populated and a paradise in its real sense. Bhutan follows Mahayana Buddhism. Known for its UN-spoilt ancient cultures and traditions, for Bhutan the past is still the present and its religion still a way of life. The Kingdom opened its doors to tourism only in 1974 by the present King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, under a careful regulated programme. Until 1991, the tourism industry was operated by government under one corporation. After 1991, the industry was privatized partially with a Tourism Authority of Bhutan formed, to regulate the industry.
Bhutan is one of the last areas still pristine in all its nature-where nature and people live in harmony. Untainted flora, un-hunted fauna, rare botanical plants, the colorful bird-life and the scenic beauty offers a treat for both young and old. Colorful festivals with mask dances depicting its rich cultural past and the great Himalayan ranges in the background definitely deserves a visit. Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim are destinations all concentrated in the same belt of the Himalayas. Each country is steeped in culture with their histories dating back as far as 2,500 B.C. Great for the adventurous and a treat for sore eyes.