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History of Bhutan
 

The origin of Bhutan and its earlier history is unknown. Guru Padma Sambhava, an Indian saint made his legendary trip from Tibet to Bhutan at the end of eighth century.
Bhutan’s history is shrouded in mystery, prior to the arrival of yet another Tibetan Lama (monk), Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal from Ralung Monastery of Tibet in 1616. After being threatened in Tibet, he escaped to Bhutan, in 1616.

Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal

Before Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal‘s arrival, numerous clans ruled in different valleys of Bhutan, having internecine war and quarrel among themselves and with Tibet. The arrival of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal is considered as the most important era in the history of Bhutan. Zhabdrung literally means, "at whose feet one submits". Over the next thirty years, he conquered and unified the country under his central leadership, which otherwise was fragmented into petty principalities, ruled over by the tribal feudal chiefs.

Zhabdrung established himself as the country's supreme leader. He ruled over Bhutan for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1651 A.D. During his reign of 35 years, he built dzongs (fortress), monasteries, and religious institutions. He established the Drukpa Kargyupa school of Tantric Mahayana Buddhism in Bhutan.

His reign was marked by the introduction of the unique dual system of governance called the Chhoesid. This new system was characterized by the sharing of power and authority between the Deb Raja or the Desi who was the head of secular affairs and the Dharma Raja or the spiritual head, called as Je Khempo . He also codified laws for the country. The laws were based on medieval theocratic principles called the Tsa-Yig. The successive ‘Dharma Rajas’ were the incarnations of the Shabdrung whereas the post of the Deb Raja was like that of the Prime Minister. In course of time, the Dharma Rajas preferring religious matters withdrew themselves into seclusion while the Deb Rajas consolidated their authority exercising sole responsibility over the secular affairs. The seventh and eighth Zhabdrung reincarnates ( avtars) died in 1931 and 1953.

The dual form of governance continued until the birth of the Wangchuk dynasty and establishment of hereditary Monarchy in 1907. Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan on December 17, 1907. The present King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the fourth hereditary king. The Current HH Zhabdrung, Jigme Ngawang Namgyal is accepted as the ninth reincarnation by his followers. He was born in Manla at Trashigang district of eastern Bhutan. He was living in exile in India and He died India on April 5, 2003.

Monarchy

The dual form of governance continued until the birth of the Wangchuk dynasty and establishment of hereditary Monarchy in 1907.The reigning Wangchuk dynasty and hereditary Monarchy was established in 1907. His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuck became the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan on December 17, 1907. Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan on December 17, 1907.

The king of Bhutan is known as Druk Gyalpo. The present King Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the fourth hereditary king. The establishment of a hereditary monarchy was indeed the most important landmark in the recorded history of Bhutan.


KING UGYEN WANGCHUCK


Ugyen Wangchuck ( 1907-1926 AD) was the son of Jigme Namgyel . He was born in 1862 . He was an able administrator and a wise diplomat. He took several reforms and introduced the system of western education. He opened many schools. He signed a new Anglo-Bhutanese Treaty with British India Raj in 1910. He ruled for 19 years. He died in August 21, 1926. He was married to Queen Ashi Tsendue Lhamo. His son Jigme Wangchuck became the second King of Bhutan after his death.

KING JIGME WANGCHUCK

King Jijme Wangchuck (1926-1952 AD) was born in 1905. As the eldest son of King Ugen Wangchuck, he received education in English, Hindi and Buddhist literature. During his reign, Bhutan started to forsake its self-imposed isolation. In 1947 Bhutan participated in the Asian relations Conference in New Delhi, India. The Treaty of perpetual peace and friendship between the government of Independent India and Bhutan was signed in Darjeeling, on 08 August 1949. This Treaty governs the modern day Indo-Bhutan relations. Bhutan agreed to be guided by the advice of India in regard to its foreign relations, according to this Treaty. He was married to Queen Ashi Phuntsho Chhoedon

KING JIGME DORJI WANGCHUCK

King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck ( 1952-1972) was born in 1928. He learned English and Hindi languages at early childhood. He ascended to throne as the third king in 1952. During his 20 years reign, Bhutan emerged as a modern nation. Bhutan achieved all-round development during his reign. He was a far-sighted monarch. He introduced land reforms putting a landholding ceiling of 30 acres. He distributed lands to land-less citizens. He put a ban on slavery and serfdom. He established a High court and reorganized the judicial system. In 1953, he established the Tshogdu or National assembly - Bhutan’s first unicameral Parliament.

He established the Royal Advisory Council in 1963. During his reign Bhutan’s first planned economic development plan was drafted. In 1961, a five year economic development pan was launched for the years 1961-1966. Bhutan is still following this five-year economic development plan. He created Bhutan’s first Council of Ministers in 1968. In 1963, Bhutan joined the Colombo Plan. During his 20 years reign, 1770 Km of roads were constructed, the number of schools rose to 102 and 6 hospitals were established. In 1971, he set up a Planning Commission. Bhutan was admitted to the United Nations in 1971. He died on 21 July, 1972. He was the main architect of modern Bhutan he was married to Queen Ashi Kelzang Chhoedon wangchuck.


KING JIGME SINGYE WANGCHUCK

The fourth King Jime Singye Wangchuck ( 1972 -) was born on 11 November. He received modern education. He briefly studied in India and the United Kingdom. He returned to the Ugyen Wangchuck Academy in Paro, Bhutan in 1970. However, he could not complete his school education due to the sudden death of his father. He became king on 23 July 1972 at the age of 17. His official coronation was held on June 02, 1974.

In 1979 His Majesty King Jime Singye Wangchuck married four sisters - Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck and Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck as queens. An official royal wedding and a public ceremony was held on 31 October 1988. They five princes and five princesses. HRH Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck is the Crown Prince (Present king).

His Majesty King Jime Singye Wangchuck also carried forward the socio-economic progress of the country initiated by his father. Bhutan has made tremendous progress in the filed of communications, hydro-electric power development, education, health, financial sector, environmental protection, and industrial and infrastructural development during his reign.

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck -- the fifth Druk Gyalpo(Present King)
On December 15th, 2006, the fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, abdicated all of his powers as King to his son, Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, with a specific intention to prepare the young King for the country's transformation to a full-fledged, democratic form of government due to occur in 2008.
The previous King's abdication in favor of his son was originally set to occur in 2008 as well, but there was an apparent concern that the new King should have hands-on experience as the nation's leader before presiding over a transformation in the country's form of government. According to the national newspaper, the Kuensel, the previous King stated to his cabinet that "as long as he himself continued to be King, the Crown Prince would not gain the actual experience of dealing with issues and carrying out the responsibilities of a head of state. With parliamentary democracy to be established in 2008, there was much to be done; so it was necessary that he gained this valuable experience."

The fourth Druk Gyalpo further "explained that Bhutan could not hope for a better time for such an important transition. Today, the country enjoys peace and stability, and its security and sovereignty is ensured. After phenomenal development and progress, the country is closer than ever to the goal of economic self reliance. Bhutan’s relations with its closest neighbour and friend, India, have reached new heights. International organizations and bilateral development partners are ready to support Bhutan’s development efforts and political transformation."

 
 
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