Bhutan, The Land of Happiness
There is a place in the world where the wealth of the country is measured by happiness. Squeezed between the mighty neighbours of China and India, the tiny kingdom of Bhutan sits peacefully and snuggly amongst the majestic amphitheatre of the Himalayas.
This remote place cuddles culture and adventure in its unspoilt and unexplored environment. Stemming from its Buddhist tradition, it has inherited the title of a spiritual and happy destination. Back in the eighth century, the tantric master guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Many others masters followed resulting in a plethora of monasteries, temples and holy sites., Bhutan is often quoted as being one of the most blessed places to visit and is the last existing Mahayana Kingdom in the world.
Healthy and holy. The kingdom is dotted with wellbeing retreats and therapeutic, mineral-laden hot springs. The Gasa Hot Spring is in the west, Dhur Hotel Spring in the centre and Dhuenmang in the south are highly revered medicinal waters and believed to cure many ailments. Traditional Bhutanese medicine is based on Sowa Rigpa, known as the Amchi system of medicine which is one of the oldest and well documented medical traditions of the world.
Bhutan’s elevated natural surroundings are often laced in transparent mist, oxygenated in unpolluted air. Glacier-fed rivers and lush aromatic forests provide the ideal terrain for hiking, trekking, kayaking and mountain biking activities. And with over 670 species of birds recorded, this is a favoured destination for bird lovers and ornithologists.
Happiness and harmony weave through the land’s rich and colourful culture expressed through traditional festivals and acrobatic mask dance performances which celebrate the kingdom’s independence and sovereignty.
Almost cut off for centuries, Bhutan unlocked its doors to foreign visitors in 1974 and today fiercely guard its ancient traditions by controlling tourism numbers to maintains its beauty and serenity for its own people and visitors alike. National parks, nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries are protected and cherished – visitors pay a fee for the honour of entering this kingdom rooted in happiness.
Dating back to the 17th century, Bhutan is a recognised wellbeing escape. This is the land where happiness is measured and is rooted in Gross National Happiness (GNH). This grandiose term is defined as a holistic and sustainable approach which balances material and non-material values with the conviction that we all search for happiness.
GNH confronts global, national and individual challenges by pointing to the non-material roots of wellbeing, offering ways to balance and satisfy needs within the limits of what nature can provide. In our world, this is hindered by boundless consumerism, widening socio-economic inequality and instability causing a decline and ultimately a depletion of natural resources. Climate change, species extinction, growing insecurity, instability and conflicts are not only diminishing our well-being but are also threatening our survival.
Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness is based on four pillars of belief. Firstly, good governance which determines the conditions and social values in which Bhutanese thrive. Secondly, sustaining socio-economic development to ensure households and families enjoy free time and leisure. Thirdly, preserving the Bhutanese culture by developing cultural resilience, maintaining cultural identity, knowledge and practices to overcome challenges and influences. Fourthly, environmental conservation to provide essential services and the aesthetic values and harmonic healing of the natural land.
Happiness is the foundation of the Kingdom of Bhutan so if you are looking for a destination and a land of happiness, you will find it here tucked away in South Asia. Visas are necessary to help preserve the kingdom’s pillars of belief to maintain Gross National Happiness – a small price to pay to hear the silence in nature’s sound, to breathe the purity of the air and absorb the vivid colours and of course share the genuine smiles of the people.
For more tips on happiness, check out TheWellnessTraveller, https://bit.ly/2Wx4EaI
For more information: https://www.tourism.gov.bt