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LAND AND ITS PEOPLE BHUTAN

Bhutan by-air travel.

Silence echoes...
Unbelievably, the tiredness all
seemed to have vanished on setting foot
in Bhutan. We were in Thimphu, the
country’s capital city. There were prayer
flags fluttering in whichever direction
we turned. The sound of silence kept
echoing and haunting us. A few Bhuta-
nese men in their traditional attire were
on their way to some place. They smiled
The tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan remained far from the tinsel of at us; their eyes radiated warmth and af-
fection. We asked them the direction to
self-promotion, but kept on progressing on its own strength unfazed by the the hotel that we had booked. Speaking
softly they showed us which route to fol-
public perception that grew in India against it over various militant groups low.
from the Northeast using its jungles. Madhuparna Bhattacharjee unveils We had made a small list of the
places we must see. Besides Thimphu,
the tiny Kingdom that has got a lot to offer to those who love the nature. our next on the list was Punaka, the old
capital of Bhutan. We started early next
morning. After a three hour drive to-
wards the east of Thimphu, we reached
our destination. The place is indeed a
superb example of Bhutanese architec-

W
ture. On the bank of the river Punaka,
ay back in the year 2003, ‘Operation All majestically stands the Punaka Dzong, a
Prayer flags Clear took place.’ Being a journalist, I had view hard to forget. Our intention was
the chance of going to Sondrup Jonkhar, to visit both the old and the new capital
a Bhutanese area neighbouring Assam to of the country. So, we did not stay long
cover it. On being there for a few days, I realized that Bhu- in Punaka.
tan has a lot more to offer to the people of India, apart from On our way back to Thimphu, we
the most commonly discussed militancy and insurgency. I stopped at a road side inn for lunch. Un-
felt that I must visit the country, trek the Druk Path, explore able to bear the hunger, we first ordered
and experience the tiny jewel, mystical culture of Bhutan. for seven bowls of meat stew. As luck
Hidden deep in the folds of the great Himalayas for centu- could have it, there was nothing much
ries, this country developed its own civilization. that they could offer for a heavy meals,
Prayer flags stand high in almost all locations, giv- other than rice, at that moment. But,
ing the feeling that invocations are heard best by the gods as we were ravenous, we asked them
and goddesses of the mighty Himalayas. I never knew the to bring for us whatever they thought
meaning of the word Bhutan until I actually visited the would be filling. After a wait of almost
place. It is believed that the term has been derived from 25 minutes, a stout man brought a tray
‘Bhot,’ which is the name given by the Tibetans to their full of dried vegetables spiced with chil-
own country and ‘Tan,’ which I think is again a modifica- lies and cheese and steaming rice. At
tion of the word ‘Stan’ meaning Land. Interestingly, the that moment it felt like heaven to have
Bhutanese prefer to call their beloved country ‘Druk Yul,’
Prayer Wheels
some food in front of us, whatever be it.
meaning ‘The Land of the Dragon.’ However, due to the
harmonious nature of the people, it has acquired an ad- However, the preparation was not bad. We all ate like glut-
ditional nickname, Deki Druk Yul, which is supposed to tons. Huh... What a relief!
mean The Land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon. Someone had told us that Ema Datshi, made very spicy
Imagine a country being given a nickname due to the with cheese and chillies, might be called the national dish
nature of its citizens. Very appealing, I feel. Aren’t you for its popularity, and more importantly, the pride that the
now in the mood to know more about these people and Bhutanese have for it. We planned to ask the local people
their land, their undiluted cultures and unspoiled natural in Thimphu, as to which restaurant we should go in order
wonders? Bhutan’s past is still its present. to taste the dish.
Our journey was tiring as we chose to travel by road. On reaching Thimphu in the evening, we went straight
Being a team of seven journalists, all adventurous by nature to our hotel, called up room service and requested for but-
and more due to the demand of the profession, our choice ter tea. As we were from a different country, the manager
was the strenuous drive instead of the more comfortable of the hotel sent complimentary cheese, made from Yak

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