Long-held as one of the world’s most precious, environmentally conducive destinations for a holiday, the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is steeped in centuries-old traditions, even as it tentatively embraces the better aspects of the modern world.

Discovering Buddha in a monastery

Delving into Bhutan’s Buddhist culture can be an infinitely deep spiritual enrichment. A beautiful introduction to this peace-promoting religion is exclusive participation in the prayer rituals of a monastery. The experience allows the visitor to interact with a tulku (reincarnated Master), join the monks in the lighting of the butter lamps and later sharing a meal in the monastery. In the process, one also discover the significance of the lighting of the butter lamps - banishing the darkness of ignorance and releasing the spirit of enlightenment and many other symbolic meanings.

The infinite beauty of olden-day art and crafts

Discovering the richness of Bhutanese art and craft traditions can be a fun and illuminating experience, as you will discover at the Choki Traditional Art School (CTAS). The establishment was founded in 1999 with the aim to care for and bring education to underprivileged children from all backgrounds. It was Dasho Choki Dorji, a veteran artist whose interest and love for the profession and zeal to keep alive the zorig chusum (13 Arts and Crafts) which inspired its founding. These, in fact, reflect centuries of cultural practice. As a matter of fact, many Bhutanese see their identity and history mirrored in these crafts.

Hot and Happening Hot Springs

Imbibing the healing properties of a local hot spring can be quite an appealing attraction when visiting new places. Bhutan has for long enjoyed the therapeutic powers of the mineral-rich hot springs in places such as the one located in the Punakha district. While experiencing a traditional Bhutanese bathhouse at the Gasa Hot Springs, you will discover that the water can vary in temperature and even have different medicinal properties. But what is really unique is that these springs are held in veneration by the locals as they are seen as blessings sent by Buddha!

Mushroom Moves

Mushrooms are a popular component in Bhutanese cooking. But what is really an eye-opener for visitors is that you can go on a mushroom foraging tour and learn all about it from a local expert while enjoying an eco-friendly experience in a beautiful forest. Mushroom hunting in itself is quite an art, so while it can be really fun as you wander through the jungle, you also get to know what is edible, what’s quite useless or what’s poisonous. Wrap it up with a one-to-one cookery class and take home brand new cooking skills to wow your friends back home!

The multi-layered wonderments of Bhutanese culture cannot be discovered in a single visit. The beauty of it is that there are lifetimes of experiences scattered across this gorgeous country that await you here. Underpinning this cultural appeal is the promise of friendly local people who are happy to share their magical land with the discerning traveller.

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