Gupta Travels Agency

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Bhutan - The Dragon’s Nest

The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas, bordered by China (Tibet) to the north and northwest, and by the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Sikkim on the east, south and west respectively. With an area of 46,500 square kms Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland both in its size and topography. It was the mighty Himalayas which protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left the Kingdom blissfully untouched. The Drukpa Kagyupa school of Mahayana Buddhism provided the essence of a rich culture and a fascinating history. The Bhutanese people protected this sacred heritage and unique identity for centuries by choosing to remain shrouded in a jealously guarded isolation.
The Kingdom is peopled sparsely by a population of 0.6 million. Three main ethnic groups constitute Bhutan's population; the Sharchopas, who are held to be indigenous inhabitants, the Ngalogpas whose descendent is traced to neighboring Tibet and the Lhotshampas, recent immigrants of Nepalese origin. The inhabitants of Bhutan are gracious gentle and very hospitable, they are peace loving and possess lively sense of humor.

 

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The documented history of the Kingdom begins in the 8th century with the legendary flight of Guru Padmasambhava from Tibet in 747 A.D, on the back of a tigress The Guru, also considered as second Buddha, alighted in Taktsang (Tiger's Nest ), in the valley of Paro and began the propagation of Tantric strain of Mahayana Buddhism. In the ensuing centuries, many great masters preached the faith resulting in full bloom of Buddhism by the middle ages. Although sectarian at first, the country was eventually unified under Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism by the saint /administrator, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, in the early 17th century. The Shabdrung codified a comprehensive system of laws and built a chain Dzongs which guarded each valley during unsettled times and now servings the religious and administrative centre of the region. In the next two centuries, the nation was once again caught up into regional fiefdoms with intermittent civil wars. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Tongsa Penlop, Ugyen Wangchuck, who then controlled the central and eastern region, overcame all his rivals and united the nation once again. He was unanimously crowned as the first King of Bhutan in 1907. The country now has the system of democratic monarchy. Bhutan is the last Mahayana Buddhist Kingdom, and the teaching of this school of Buddhism are living faith among its people. The air of spirituality is pervasive even in urban centers where the spinning of prayer wheels, the murmur of mantras and glow of butter lamps are still important features of everyday life. Bhutan religious sites and institutions are not museums, but the daily home of its people.

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One of the most striking physical features of Bhutan is its architecture. The characteristic style and colour of every building and house in the Kingdom is a distinct source of aesthetic pleasure. The Dzongs - themselves, imposing 17th century structures built on a grand scale without the help of any drawing and nail - are outstanding examples of the best in Bhutanese architecture. Patterns of rich colours adorn every wall, beam, pillar, door in traditional splendor.

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Like its architecture, its art and painting are important aspects of Bhutanese culture and they depict the spiritual depth of Bhutanese life. Whether it is on a wall, or one of the renowned Thangkhas or murals, painters use vegetables dyes to give their work the subtle beauty and warmth seen nowhere else in the world.

Bhutan also boasts an unparalleled wealth in its cottage industry. Its fine handicrafts of wood and bamboo, ornaments of gold and silver, an highly developed weaving skills represent an advanced art form.

One of the main attractions in the Kingdom is its annual religious festivals also known as TSHECHUS, celebrated to honor Guru Padmasambhava also known as "Guru Rimpoche". For local people, Tshechus are an occasion for reverence and blessing, feasting and socializing. Two of the most popular Tshechus are held at Paro in spring and Thimphu in autumn, but there are various others all the year around at temples, dzongs and monasteries throughout Bhutan. Staged at different places at different time of the year, it provides an opportunity to outsider to experience the extraordinary.

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Nowhere in the Himalayas the natural heritage is more rich and varied than in Bhutan. In historical records, the Kingdom was called the valley of Medicinal Herbs, a name that still applies to this day. The country's rich flora and fauna is the result of its unique geographic location in the eastern Himalayas, within an area that extends through both Indo-Himalayan ( oriental ) and the Pale-arctic biographic regions ; its annual rainfall, which is significantly higher than in the central and western Himalayas, and its considerable altitudional variation, from 200 meters in the south to over 7,000 meters in the north, which is accompanied by dramatic climatic changes.

Because of deep traditional reverence which the Bhutanese have for nature, the Kingdom is one of the leading countries in environmental preservation. More than 70% of the area is still under forest cover. Many parts of the country which have been declared as Wildlife reserves are the natural habitats of rare species of both flora and fauna. opened for tourism in 1974, after the Royal coronation of the present King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan is perhaps the world's most exclusive tourist destination.

The country manages to retain all the charm of the old world. Like timeless images of the past, the travelers encounter the full glory of the ancient land through its strategic monastic fortresses known as dzongs, numerous ancient temple, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags which flutter along the high ridges, wild animals which abound in dense forests, foamy white waterfalls which are ethereal showers, and the warm smile of the people. Each moment is special as one discovers a country which people have chosen to preserve in its magical purity.

Welcome to Darjeeling

Tucked away in the Himalayas ,south of the state of  Sikkim is the famous hill station of Darjeeling at an altitude of almost 2250 mts.(7500ft.).Although Darjeeling is situated in West-Bengal an another state of India , Geographically it is congruous to Sikkim and has the same type mountain features, climate ,rainfall etc. The Darjeeling District shares its Border with Sikkim in the north, Nepal in the West and Bhutan in the East . The highest location in the district is Sandakphu at 3631 mts. (11911 ft.) near the tri-junction of Darjeeling district , Nepal and West-Bengal .

Being a hill resort for more than a century and a half, Darjeeling has developed into a tourist’s paradise. In Darjeeling , the beauty of the majestic Kanchandzongha range looming above is alwayas there to enjoy on a clear day .

 

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It is a take off point for Sikkim, the Darjeeling hill areas (Eastern Himalay), Dooars, North-east states of India, Bhutan, Nepal & Bangladesh. It is because of its vantage location that it has developed into an important trade centre. Tourists first land up here and might have to halt here for sometime to catch a connection bus, train or a flight .
Many kilometers before you reach siligur, the Himalayas make themselves visible and on a clear day, the snowy peaks of the Kanchandzongha can be discerned .

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King’s minister’s strong hold a Bhutanese word . It is called Kalimpong in local dialect meaning “Black Spur”. As per Lepchas Kalimpong means "Ridge where we play" . It is said that Kalimpong local tribesman used to organize field sports while not engaged in agricultural pursuit .
Situated at an altitude of 1250 mtrs. (3937 ft.) it enjoys temperate climate throughout the year . Somewhat secluded and tucked away in the corner under big Darjeeling umbrella, Kalimpong offers a quite and relaxed holiday against the backdeop of  Kanchandzongha .

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Lava : 32 kms. From Kalimpong and situated of 7200 ft. commands panoramic views of Jelepla and Rechi-la passes. Today Lava known as famous Tourist Destination in Eastern Himalaya.

Loleygoan (Kaffer) : 56 kms. From Kalimpong  and situated at an altitude of 5500 ft. Panoramic view of  Kanchandzongha can be obtain from this point . Fabulous view of sunrise over Kanchandzongha can be seen from Jhandi Dara .

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Mirik a nest in the Hills, is West Bengal’s one of the hill resort at an altitude of 1767 mtrs.(5800 fts) with its own special charms 49 kms. From Darjeeling and 52 kms. From Siliguri , 1.25 km. long lake is fed by perennial  streams. A floating fountain in the middle of the lake is a joy for ever and very often you may find the glory of Kanchandzongha reflected in the lake waters . A rich forests of thousands of Cryptomaria-Japonica trees clothe the slopes on the West. A 3.5 km. zigzag footwalk takes you alongthe lake-a sleek foot bridge connects the garden on the East with the wood on the West . Alone or in company, you are sure to enjoy a boat-ride in the lake .

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Sandakphu & Phalut both at an altitude of almost 3650 mtrs. (12000 ft.) offer a breath-taking view of the Kanchandzongha range as well as the Everest and the surrounding peaks . It snows quit heavily at these places during the winter To reach here one must take a car for Rimbik from Darjeeling and get down at Moneybhanjan which is about 30 kms. From Darjeeling . From here one can either trek to Sandakphu and Phalut or hire a Landrover , no other vehicle can apparently negotiate the sleep and narrow unmetaled trackroad uphill to Sandakphu and Phalut which are at a distance of 30 kms. And 50 kms. Respectively from Maneybhanjan on the same route .