Bhutan is known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon as has often been referred to as the last Shangri-La – a utopian land of wonderful people, extraordinary scenery and exciting culture. You can now discover the cultural and natural wonders of the last remaining Mahayana Buddhist Kingdom of the Himalaya.
Bhutan’s diverse landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the tough to the subalpine Himalayan Mountains in the north with peaks over 7000 metres (over 23,000ft). Gangkhar Puensum is the highest mountain in Bhutan, and the highest unclimbed mountain in the world with its peak at 7570 metres (24836 feet).
The geography of Bhutan, similar to Nepal, can be divided into three altitude zones, namely, the Greater Himalayas of the north, the hills and valleys of the Inner Himalayas, and the foothills and plains of the Sub-Himalayan Foothills.
Much on Bhutan’s architecture and building types are deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism and harmonious to its landscapes: majestic fortress monasteries that are strategically positioned, charismatic clusters of village farmhouses and various types of Buddhist stupas, and prayer walls. Each structure is decorated beautifully inside and out with handmade woodcarvings and paintings of Buddha and various deities. Traditionally, craftsmanship was handed down generation to generation.
The temples of Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo in Haa, Kyichu near Paro and Jampa, Koebnchog-sum and Gayney Lhakhangs in Bumthang, were the first recorded buildings in Bhutanese history, built around the 6th and 7th centuries. Later, many lamas built temples and monasteries all over the country.
The architectural landscape changed in the 17th century when Ngawang Namgyal introduced the construction of dzongs, which became the model for al monasteries built or restored from that time. Examples of the dzong model include Gangtey Goemba, Dramitse and Tango monasteries.