Bhutan is a fairytale, just as its evolution or development is. Secluded in the folds of the great Himalayan Mountains, its population of over 700,000 live harmoniously with Nature. It is perhaps the only country, where you may have to press your car’s brakes as a leopard crosses the road. Also known as Drukyul (Home of the Dragon), the country’s rich history contains stories of the colonial powers’ bid to secure Bhutan and their failure. However, the un-colonized land had its share of civil strife until 1907, when unanimity brought all Bhutanese together and handed the reins of governance to the then Trongsa Penlop (Governor), Ugyen Wangchuck. It was December 17, 1907 and the Wangchuck Dynasty was born.
After decades of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan took the new road, embarking on a development model borrowed from the then USSR – the Five –Year –Plans. It was the early sixties and within a decade Bhutan achieved what has taken other nation even centuries.
However, Bhutan’s visionary Leaders knew that development was a double-edged sword. The Middle Path to development was adopted, cautious steps, to ensure that its culture and environment remained intact. Medievalism and modernity moved together hand in hand. Natural bounties, both flora and fauna were protected.
The fruits of this unique approach is manifested in the Bhutanese way of life; embodied in the hundreds of prayer flags, temples and stupas that dot the country and epitomized in its name as a haven for protected flora and fauna. Bhutan could be called a museum showcasing what the world has lost.
It was for this very reason that Bhutan maintained a “High Value Low Volume” tourism policy, especially to keep at bay the “Hippie Culture.”
Propagator and the spring of Gross National Happiness (GNH), the Himalayan Kingdom is today one of the most sought after high end tourist destinations. And there is no reason why it should not be, for Bhutan is an unparalleled nation of the 21st century.