Image 5 of 48
Crowds queueing up for blessings beneath the the Thangka (religious mural) of Guru Rinpoche (in the background) in the final event of the Paro festival at Rinpung dzong, Paro..Commonly described as the last Himalayan Shangrila, Bhutan is a country of unique serenity, harmony, and beauty. Nestled between India, China, and Tibet, this independent country whose name translates as 'the Land of the Thunder Dragon' has for the past 300 years proactively followed a policy of isolation and cultural protection. Travel in and out of the country is strictly regulated, and the impact of outside influences on the local culture is carefully monitored. Spirituality is an important aspect of Bhutanese culture, with Buddhism being interlinked with everyday life. Gross National Happiness (GNH), as opposed to GNP/GDP, forms the cornerstone of its development strategy which focuses on a holistic development strategy that complements its cultural and Buddhist spiritual values.