Bhutan: A Land Of Happiness
A trip to Bhutan, one of the smallest countries on this planet can prove you that it is a powerhouse of natural and cultural heritage. It might interest you to know that it is one of the few remaining biodiversity hotspots in the world. With almost 72% of its land consisting of forest cover, experts believe that almost 60% of the country is identified as a protected area.
The Bhutan Government actively takes steps in order to preserve the biological diversity and the heritage of this country. It is for these reasons that Bhutan hosts an unspoiled natural environment that harbors some of the rare and endangered species of Earth. Bhutan can boast of being an only nation that’s green cover has increased over the years. This has been possible due to the sincere dedication and efforts put in by the kingdom.
Gross National Happiness
While the world over is fighting through the daily struggles to procure more money and luxuries of life, people of Bhutan strive for happiness. By setting a new trend, Bhutan establishes that Gross Domestic Product cannot define the prosperity and success of a nation. It is the happiness quotient that matters. Quite rightfully they said that while a rich man may not be happy and satisfied with his life, but a happy man is more likely to consider himself rich and content.
The concept of Gross National Happiness contends that true development of a society can only take place when both material as well as spiritual development occurs side by side. They not only complement each other, but also reinforce each other which makes a long-lasting impact on the society.
So, who would not like to visit a place which has smiling faces and content hearts!
Travel To Bhutan – Visa Requirements
Like any other country, Bhutan also stipulates any visitor to obtain a prior visa before travelling. For this, the Bhutan Government suggests planning your itinerary through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, or through their foreign travel agent.
The procedure to obtain visa clearance for Bhutan is quite simple:
- Submit the Photocopy of your passport to your travel agent for submission of an application for the visa.
- Once the payment for the holiday has been made to the Tourism Council of Bhutan, along with the visa application fee of USD $40, the visa gets processed within 72 working hours.
You are being issued a visa clearance letter which has to be produced at the point of entry to Bhutan.
- On successful completion of these steps, the visa is stamped into the passport.
NOTE: These stipulations are not applicable to the citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives. They may simply obtain a visa at the port of entry by producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity.
Indian citizens have a further advantage of travelling to Bhutan without a passport. They may simply gain entry by producing their Voters Identity Card at the port of entry.
So, if you are planning to visit Bhutan in 2017, then these tentative festival dates might come handy:
- JOMOLHARI MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL – This 2-day annual festival is celebrated at the base of Mt. Jomolhari, in honor of the communities that are living in the close proximity of the habitat of endangered Snow Leopard. Basically, this festival is dedicated to the Snow Leopards, which is one of the most revered species of animals on this land.
- NOMAD FESTIVAL (23rd FEB.) – This festival gives any visitor a golden opportunity to come in contact with the local communities and learn their way of life and culture. The locals would gladly make the visitors a part of their family, help in dressing like one and feed the local delicacies. This festival is a gateway to their lives which has remain unchanged almost for a few centuries.
- PARO TSHECHU (7th to 11th APRIL) – This spring festival is a great attraction. The majestic thangkha (embroidered painting) and massive Guru Throngdel, the scroll. These scrolls are considered to be so sacred that a mere glance is believed to purify your soul.
- NIMALUNG FESTIVAL (1st to 3rd JULY) – This festival witnesses local monastery getting decorated in a traditional manner. Along with this, Thongdrol, a nine-meters long and twelve meters wide gigantic scroll is put to display. It is believed that just looking at it washes away sins and makes us pure.
- MATSUTAKE FESTIVAL (4th Weekend of AUG.) – Ura is famous for its harvest of Matsutake Mushrooms, which is one of prized gourmet in the culinary world. During this time of the year, one can accompany the natives in the hunt for this prized fungi and learn some tips of the trade.
Apart from these, there are several other festivals and events which have been listed on the official website of Bhutan Tourism. Visit it here.