In the Himalayas there is still a small kingdom where the cold mountain air can freeze time. The farmers that make up more than 69 % of the population do not wear watches. Most of us live our lives according to the sun. We get up when the sun rises and sleep when it sets. We are a content lot of people who live life on a day to day basis. This is the kingdom of Bhutan.
The last Buddhist Mahayana Buddhist kingdom nestled between two of most populous countries; China to the north and India to the south, Bhutan is the jewel of the Himalayas. We,the Bhutanese called it Drukyul, the land of the thunder dragon. But some also call it Eden. To the north of our country, the world's highest unclimbed peak towers many other virgin peaks. The people living in the shadow of Mount Everest are close to the mountains and revere them. We consider them to be the abode of our protecting deities. Most of the peaks over 7000 meters are yet to be named.
Below these abodes, steep glacial valley rise above alpine highlands. The misty forest and the milky white glacial streams that cut gorges on their way to warmer valleys in the heart of the kingdom make the landscape magical. The Arctic cold and tropical heat are held within a span of less than 100 miles.
What makes Bhutan unique? It is its richness and diversity combined with centuries old religion and philosophy. Buddhism reached our tiny kingdom in the 8th century and its legacy can still be seen today manifested on every little hill where a temples or prayer flags are erected so visibly to remind the people of the philosophy. Even the energy of the streams is used to spin prayer wheels and ring bells to remind the people of the philosophy. All the temples have grand colorful paintings depicting the wheel of life and the biography of Lord Buddha.
The Bhutanese sense of their place in their world is found in the mural paintings of the four harmonious friends on the walls of temples. This allegory is understood by even a Bhutanese child. According to the fable, a bird flew from a distant land carrying a seed in its beak. Tired the bird dropped the seed and where it fell a hare dug a hole and a monkey planted the seed. An elephant stood over the young shoot nourishing it and protecting it from the elements. Soon it grew into a tree of life laden with fruits which the animals harvest. This story is an example of living in harmony that resonates across the land. Faith and legend are inseparable from the landscape itself. So it is not surprising that the people believe in the existence of the mythical yeti and the mystical Blue Bear.
Man’s search for paradise on earth, a living Eden has long been stuff of legend. The reports of the 17th century European missionaries returning from Shangri La a place of peace and enlightenment and carefree existence hidden deep within the Himalayas. The Buddhist scholars believe such a place exists but its doors are open only to the most faithful devotees. But, Bhutan must the closest place to this paradise as here enlightened monarchs rule the country. The progress of development is measured by its own unique national development policy, the Gross National Happiness.