How happy are you? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 04, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 04, 2016

Travelogue

How happy are you?

For people living in Bangladesh, what can be said about this tucked-away sanctuary, unperturbed by the happenings around the world that has not already been said before? I visited Bhutan first as a ten-year-old and then again, much later in life. And would you like to know what had changed about this place in the fifteen years in between? Nothing!

Bhutan calculates 'Gross National Happiness', a term coined in 1972 by a Bhutanese King and later passed as a UN resolution to place 'happiness' on the global development agenda. This is a place that has challenged the norms and its gross domestic product (GDP) by prioritising what it thought was more important as success in life. 

Speaking of fun facts, there are too many about this country that will actually make you feel as though you are spending time in a different era– medieval as it may seem, but also the prettiest and the most healing!

October is a good time to travel I heard, and if you have a rough idea about how you want to spend your time there, I would advise to split your days wisely to include more of Paro. If you have grown up reading Satyajit Ray's “Feluda” series, you would have heard of “Kanchenjunga”. There is an extensive description of Mount Kanchenjunga in those stories and how the sights can be life-changing, and this is exactly what only a flight to Paro can reward you with. 

When the plane descends at this airport, it is one of the most spectacular landings you will ever experience, with the Himalayan ranges jutting up from one side and the Kanchenjunga on the other.

The spiritual high that you receive by travelling within Bhutan is something I cannot emphasise enough. Buddhism is not a religion here – it's a way of life. Experience a mineral spring bath or Tshachu for its medicinal properties, and if not, even a walk along the river can be therapeutic.

The Jigme Dorji National Park is one of the largest sanctuaries protecting the finest Himalayan flora and fauna that the country has to offer. This is not only naturally beautiful but also contains prominent landmarks such as the sacred peaks of Jomolhari, Tsherimgang and Jichu Drakey. Also, did I mention Bhutan has banned mountain climbing? This is as a sign of reverence they owe to the sacred peaks.

Besides the Taktsang Monastery, you should also watch an archery match that puts a spin on Bhutan's otherwise museum like nature by introducing futuristic bows out of a movie! This is the national sport of the Kingdom and is seen as a way of socialisation, played between public ministries and departments during local festivities.

I would like to end this piece with what we love and care about the most in the world – FOOD! For a vegetarian like myself, this country was a delight with its national favourite dish called Ema Datshi – a red hot mix of chillies and cheese that you will find everywhere in Bhutan. But the carnivores need not fear; there are unbelievable momos, Jhasha Maru (spicy minced chicken) with beautiful home-grown red rice available just as easily!

Photo: Naaz Fahmida

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