In our last article on Bhutan facts we learned quite a few interesting things including its national animal, its unique method of measuring success, its unique approach towards environment etc. However, we were far from being done. This tiny little country has a lot more. In this article on fascinating Bhutan facts, we will go through a few more with a lingering promise of returning with even more fascinating facts about the country. So, let us begin…
Fascinating Bhutan Facts: 1-5
1. Only in official correspondences where English is used, the name ‘Bhutan’ is used. The real official name used by the country is Druk Yul. This has been the official name of the country since 17th century.
2. Bhutan has several other names in different local dialects that are prevalent in the nation. A few of those names include: Mon, Potente, Cambirasi, Broukpa and Lho Men Jong. The last one literally translates into ‘Southland of the Herbs’.
3. Did you know that Bhutan is the prime territory of the elusive (most likely mythical) creature called Yeti? Till mid-sixties, the Bhutanese people believed in Yeti so much that they even released as postal stamp with Yeti image (not a real image because no one ever saw it) on it in year 1966. This belief has been on decline after that.
4. In Bhutan everyone has the same birthday and it the New Year. Every year on the New Year, all citizens of Bhutan become a year older. No one actually cares or perhaps don’t remember their actual age or birth date!
5. In Bhutan, you won’t really get white rice because there, the ‘red rice’ is popular. With a nuttier flavor, the rice is known for quick cooking and sticky texture. Once cooked, the rice assumes a deep pink color. It is actually really healthy.
Fascinating Bhutan Facts: 6-10
6. The name ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ possible came from the fierce storms that often roll in on the nation from the Himalayas.
7. The origin of the name Bhutan is kind of debatable. Some say that it came from the Sanskrit word called Bhotanta where Bho actually is the name of Tibet and Bhotanta means ‘End of Tibet’. Others however believe that the name came from another Sanskrit word called Bhu-uttan which means ‘Highlands’.
8. Want to be really polite in Bhutan? Just decline food when someone offers it to you. Utter the words ‘meshu meshu’ and immediately cover your mouth with your hands. It is a good manner in the nation. However, one can accept the food once pushed for it for a few times.
9. In Bhutan, the law forbids its citizens from marrying a foreigner. Also, homosexuality is not acceptable by law. On the contrary, polygamy is acceptable but is rarely practiced and guess what? There are signboards here are there asking people to keep just one sex partner.
10. It is mandatory in Bhutan to wear traditional dresses on formal occasions, in government buildings and in schools. It is one way of preserving the culture of Bhutan. The traditional dress of men is known as Gho while for women, it is called Kira.
Fascinating Bhutan Facts: 11-15
11. For men, the traditional dresses are short and they need to wear high socks. However, during winter, they cannot wear stocking underneath until, the monks are asked to retreat to lower valleys during winter months by the primary Buddhist Abbot of the country. That’s coming down of monks is marked as the official beginning of the winter and that’s when men are allowed to wear stocking. So, during Autumn, men in high altitude areas like Thimphu and Paro need to tolerate freezing temperatures on their bare legs.
12. In the same way, men are not allowed to step out without stocking underneath the national dress until the monks retreat to the high mountains. Monks go back during the spring.
13. In case you are thinking that you can stumble upon a few Buddhist monks on Bhutanese roads, that’s not a possibility unless its winter. During summers, all monks are found in high altitude monasteries. Those that can be seen in some temples and fortresses are actually caretakers. The real ones are hidden somewhere in high mountains and they are very difficult to reach.
14. Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the current King of the Kingdom of Bhutan since December 9, 2006. He and his wife (the Queen) is really adored by everyone in Bhutan. The King is known to be very humble and is even popular for allowing private meetings with citizens whenever requested.
15. Did you know why mountaineering beyond 6,000 meters is forbidden in Bhutan? That’s because beyond that level, the mount peaks are located and it is believed by the Bhutanese that those peaks are where the deities live and scaling those peaks will mean disrespect and offence.
Fascinating Bhutan Facts: 16-20
16. Yak Butter Tea is a fascinating beverage in Bhutan and is pretty much staple. It made of yak butter, salt, water and brewed tea. It is oily and thick and is high on calorie. Oh, in case you are visiting a local family, you will be offered this and after every sip you take, the cup will be refilled until it is time for you to leave. However, one good way of avoiding continuous refill, if you don’t want more is to leave the cup when it is full but drink it up all when you are about to leave.
17. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was the previous King of Bhutan. He was the father of Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. The former king abdicated the throne in favor of his son and set in motion the constitutional monarchy. Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck knew that not all Kings will be good and hence, a government should be there for control.
18. Bhutan’s national flower is a very rare ‘Blue Poppy’ (locally known as Euitgel Metog Hoem). It was originally thought to be of the species Meconopsis grandis. Turns out that it was a wrong notion. The rare flower is now a new species – Meconopsis gakyi diana. The scientific study of this extremely rare flower has been completed only in 2017. Meconopsis elongata and Meconopsis merakensis are two even rare poppy species that have been found in Bhutan.
19. Bhutanese people like to eat spicy and hot food. Ema Datshi is there national dish and is made of local cheese and chilies. Some of the other really popular dishes of Bhutan include spicy minced chicken (Jasha Maru), spicy pork shoulder (phaksha paa) etc.
20. Education is Bhutan is free and the government pays for it. However, Buddhist teachings get a heavy emphasis. English is always there in school curriculum.