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Sunday, October 9, 2011

BREATHLESS IN BHUTAN

The visual vibrancy of Bhutan takes your breath away.



A few things make Bhutan which is a highly mountainous country, unusual as a traveller's destination .

For one, unlike all its neighbours which feature the Himalaya and other mountain ranges, it does not permit actual mountaineering expeditions, as mountains in Bhutan are considered spiritual and living entities deserving of sanctity. Thus, the active Buddhism lifestyle on display makes Bhutan a calm and relaxed destination to travel in.

Of course, as with other similiar destinations caught in the crossroads of the ancient and the modern, Bhutan too has its share of problems. However, this brings me to the second aspect, of what distinguishes Bhutan from at least India, its biggest friendly neighbour. The hand of the Monarch-King of Bhutan, who has long since stepped back to let a democratic council of ministers govern the country, can be seen in the orderly and civicly efficient manner the cities of Thimpu and its satellites, are managed. The cleanliness is exemplary and the mighty state of India has much to learn from its little neighbour in this regard.Yes there may be something totalitarian when one sees each shop sign of the same size and colour scheme, but this view is quickly corrected when one thinks of the haphazard facades in Indian towns.

Inspite of this civic efficiency, Bhutanese complain of modern waste and garbage. To me they are oblivious of the mountains of filth and toxic waste their big neighbour is drowning in. And  it is a good sign indeed to see that they are already concerned.

The third unusual aspect of Bhutan is the fact that its defence is under a direct umbrella handed to India and that unlike elements of society in Nepal, Bhutan harbours no  of resentment from its big brother and has enjoyed cordial relations with its southern neighbour for all of its modern history at least..and more importantly, there is no element of pushiness from India. The Chinese on the other had have already ired the Bhutanese according to my guide, for having encroached on their northern territories.

The last feature that stands out to my mind, is that inspite of being a largely tourist destination, with numerous western agencies functioning here, there are fundamentals lacking from the perspective of skills on the hospitality industry and their application to Bhutan's needs. However , this is for another time and place. For now, I must leave it at this, "Bhutan takes the modern traveller to great heights, and truly will take your breath away!"

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