Many eastern classics and books of wisdom have referred to the Himalayas as the abode of the gods and home to the immortals. These descriptions did not stem merely from the majesty and grandeur of the natural surroundings bit perhaps alluded to a special environment where communion with the divine was possible through contemplation and meditation. And so since the immemorial, ascetics, scholars, philosophers and pilgrim have been drawn irresistibly to there remote and rugged mountains in the personal search for wisdom inspiration, solitude and happiness.
Bhutan is a county nestled in the eastern Himalayas. The country has been visited by a great many saints, mystics, scholars and pilgrims over the centuries who not only came for their personal elucidation, but also blessed the land and its people with an invaluable spiritual and cultural legacy that has shaped every facet of Bhutanese lives. Visitors and guests to the country will be surprised that the culture and the traditional lifestyle is still richly intact and at the degree to which it permeates all strands of modern life day secular life. From the traditional woven garments to the prayer flags on high mountain slopes, from the build environment to the natural environment, from the religious mask dances to the folk dances, this cultural heritage is proudly evident and offers a unique cultural setting.
The Bhutanese have treasured their natural environment as it is seen as a source of all-live and the abode of the gods and spirits. Buddhism has been the predominant religion since the 7th century and has inculcated deeply the value that all forms of the sentient life, not just human life, are precious and sacred. Given such a prevailing ethos that respects the natural environment, it is not surprising that the Bhutanese have lived in harmony with nature and that the nation has its environment still pristine and intact today. The country has been identified as one the 10- bio-diversity hot spots in the world and as one of the 221 global endemic bird areas. Its eco-systems harbours some of the most exotic species of the eastern Himalayas with an estimated 770 species of birds and over 50 species if rhododendron, besides an astonishing variety of medical plants and orchids. Bhutan also has a rich wildlife with animals like the takin, snow leopard, golden langur, blue sheep, tiger, water buffalo and elephant.
It is to safeguard this rich natural environment and culture, that the country has consciously adopted a controlled tourism and development policy. In 2004 just under 9000 tourist where admitted to the country and the numbers in the coming years are not expected to increase greatly. For the few who can travel to Bhutan, there is a wide variety of activities- from the Snowman trek to kayaking down the Mochhu; from witnessing the colourful festivals in the fortresses to the panoramic mountain flight with Druk Air.