Finding Myself Back In The Land of Happiness: The Introductory Chapter | Bhutan

Bhutan

Wherever and whenever you travel, it’s not only the photographs of the natural or man-made wonders and moments that you bring back but you carry the people and culture in your heart forever.


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Believe it or not, the universe always conspires to create the kind of memories that every particular soul requires to prepare you to be your best self. Life isn’t always fair and it throws at you some of the meanest things when you least expect it. Each one of us fights these phases in individual ways but sometimes it becomes so intense that all you need is to drop the struggle and give yourself a space that will heal you.

There’s no doubt about the therapeutic effect of travelling. I have always considered it as a means of growth, healing, discovering and rediscovering oneself because it leads you through an inward journey, unfolding exclusive experiences that nurture your soul.

Travelling to Bhutan, the Land of Happiness as it is called happened just at the right time of my life. It was a long cherished desire for almost a decade that over the years, however, went quiescent either because of studies, travelling across India or the corporate cubicle. It wasn’t until the visit of His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan (The King) Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Her Majesty Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck and the Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck in India in October 2017 that the dormant love for visiting this country surfaced strongly again. And surprisingly enough, my dream materialized without any prior formal planning in November 2018 when I was fighting a personal crisis for the past few months. What’s more joyous about this trip was that this year marks 50 years of the special friendship between India and Bhutan!

The first day of my journey had begun with a mesmerising introduction to the Land of Happiness by Chang. A tour guide by profession, he’s also the friend and philosopher for the rest of the days I am here. Dressed in traditional Bhutanese attire, his appearance and interaction are so cordial and courteous from the very first second that I was sure this trip is going to be an amazing one.

As the wheels rolled, Chang painted a charming picture of the destination that quite naturally elevated my expectations. For the first time, I was travelling to a place without any homework or research. On reaching Paro, I was completely spellbound!

This country is so beautiful and the air is so fresh that the moment you step on it, look up the sky and the mountains, then close your eyes and take a deep breath filling your lungs with all the goodness around, half of your soul’s burden is gone!

Bhutan

It’s such a delight to see the Bhutanese people donning their national dress ‘Gho’ and ‘Kira’. But I felt what makes them even more amazing to the eye and other senses is the smile they wear all day! Just look at their smiling faces and you kind of receive an instant message that seemingly reads “Why take so much stress? Keep smiling because it costs nothing.”

The Bhutanese people maintain a very balanced outlook towards life. Unlike so many of us, they haven’t forgotten that they’re alive and there’s a lot to learn from their wisdom. Simply walk along with them or beside them and you can sense the virtue of humility in every step they take. And trust me, you’ll be blown away by their sense of humour, gracious hospitality, and soothing happy demeanour.

This land is so much about the human qualities that are disappearing in our fast-paced lives. For instance, I can’t help but mention the friendship between Chang and his father, Mr. Kinley (I used to address him as Kinley Sir). In today’s technologically enriched lifestyles, the communication gap between parents and children (young or adult) has become wider universally. We hardly have time for each other and sitting together, listening to each other is now almost a rare scene. But it was truly a pleasure watching this father-son duo working together and occasionally chatting. Their delightful giggles are powerful enough to instantly brighten up your mood and have you in rapture.

Another memorable episode I’d like to mention is that of a morning when the temperature dropped significantly and we all were shivering underneath layers of clothes. We had stopped by an eatery to have our breakfast and gathered around the fireplace for the same. Once done with the food, I went outside only to return to the fireplace soon after 😀 I was feeling quite cold and seeing me squeezing in by the fireplace, Kinley Sir laughed and asked if I am okay now. He informed that this cold is nothing and that the upcoming months are really cold. He then hummed a Bollywood song, “Abhi to party shuru hui hai” (the party has just begun) and raised his hands giving a dance move. We laughed out our hearts together. It was such a beautiful relief and a valuable lesson for those people who are always complaining! Life isn’t always fair, accept it, learn from it, strengthen yourself, and move on. Those words are absolutely relatable to life – The Party Has Just Begun!

The peacefulness, calmness, kindness, and the positive vibes that surround this place and its people are all that we are constantly searching for amidst the daily chaos and distraction in our concrete jungles.

The last day of the trip got me a bit emotional. I went quiet for some time and tried to soak in the mountain views as much as possible. Everything I’ve closely observed in this short duration started showing up in front of my eyes, all at once. The majestic royal properties in Thimphu, the scintillating blue skies framed by the undulating slopes and ridges, the remarkable memorials that are breathing the land’s history, the breathtaking beauty of the streets and lanes of Paro, the peek-a-boo of the pleasant sun through bewitching willow trees, the soft murmur of the rivers, the fascinating sight of the Tiger’s Nest, the inexplicable spiritual connection in the country’s oldest monastery, the enchanting Haa Valley, the dreamy Chele La Pass, only to mention a few. To be honest, I wished I could stay longer.

Chang sings an evergreen Bollywood song every now and then –

“Chalte chalte mere yeh geet yaad rakhna:
Kabhi alvida na kehna..kabhi alvida na kehna…”

[While going along, remember this song of mine
Never say farewell..never say farewell..]

(Listen to this Kishore Kumar song here. English translation is taken from Musixmatch)

It’s true to the core. If you visit this beautiful country once, you won’t be able to say goodbye ever. After my sojourn in the Druk land, I am now carrying its essence in my heart and it’ll stay with me till the time I live. I’ll always remember Chang’s warm and inviting house, the most delicious tea he offered (Yes, it’s the most delicious tea I have ever had), and his sense of responsibility and commitment in both his professional and personal life. I also won’t forget the bonding I developed with Kinley Sir and the fatherly figure he had been.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Julia Roberts film “Eat Pray Love” where travel plays a pivotal role in self-discovery.  However, I learned a new concept this time – “Eat, Enjoy and Sleep” (Well, that’s what Chang’s WhatsApp ‘About’ section reads 🙂 ). If we take a note, it’s a big lesson. Life is this simple and there’s no need to make it complicated with thoughts and worries that are beyond our control. It’s a waste of time and energy to entertain negative forces into your life. Embrace the positives, count your blessings, enjoy every moment, establish inner peace, and cultivate compassion. Live every day! Never lose hope because I’ve learned, “there is always a next time”.

To conclude, when I visited this place, I didn’t expect much except that I’ll be wandering in a long-desired destination far away from my crisis. But Bhutan helped me find that piece of myself which went missing for a long time because of my own negligence. It taught me to fall in love with myself, again. For me, Bhutan isn’t just the Land of Happiness but also the Land of Hope and Healing. The purity and simplicity of this land helped gather myself together, bit by bit, every day and led me through the transformation I needed.

I am thankful to the Almighty for also being kind enough to let me have the opportunity of spending my birthday on this blessed land in the presence of so many wonderful people! It’s the best birthday I’ve had.

I came back with a stitched heart, mind, and soul – I returned being the person that originally I am.

 

Thank you, Chang! Thank you, Kinley Sir! Thank you, Hari!

Long live Bhutan.

Long live the friendship between Bhutan and India.


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59 Responses

  1. Ram says:

    Awesome explanation of wonderful journey… Really Awesome.

  2. Pravesh says:

    Great Writeup. Bhutan is so so beautiful…

  3. Amazing! I would love to explore beautiful places like this. The furthest I have ever travelled is to the Greek islands and I would love to travel more with my children.

  4. There’s no better feeling than taking it a huge deep breath in a clean, fresh place you love!

  5. Atish Ray says:

    “Happiness is … Reading such kind of blog”.

    Dear Friend,
    You just embossed your real feelings about this trip and the place so nicely in this blog. Finding happiness from a trip and from a peaceful part of world like Bhutan is itself a treat to yourself. And blogging it with such simple words and passion is another treat to readers like me. I would expect future blogs from you too… And yes, your elaboration made me feel like a must visit to Bhutan someday… Thanks for this lovely blog. Wish all the very best and luck and success for your future.

    • Madhurima says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Atish. I try my best to document my travel experiences with an authentic and individualistic approach. It’s so very motivating to get such positive feedback 🙂

  6. Olivia says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly- there truly is something very magical and healing about traveling. I’m sure we all wish we could do it more. Your lovely pics shall have to hold us until we can get to such beautiful places on our own!

  7. I agree Bhutan looks pretty beautiful. I loved how your pictures illustrate this. Definitely looks like a worthy place to visit

  8. Surekha Busa says:

    Yes traveling is really therapeutic, exploring the other side of the world will you know yourself more, on how you could cope and relate to other cultures.

  9. Wow, the scenery in Bhutan is stunning! I would love to visit this country too and experience all these.

  10. So cool! I want so much to go to Bhutan. I wanted before but, after reading your post, I want even more!

    • Madhurima says:

      Oh thank you so much! I am so happy to know that my post had this effect on you 😀 Bhutan is Happiness. I wish you have a lovely family trip to Bhutan soon 🙂

  11. Dhiraj Thapa says:

    Actually Bhutan is my neighbouring country. I am from Nepal. I was planning to visit there few months ago on a bike trip but it got postponed. Thanks for sharing the information

  12. Becca Wilson says:

    This definitely sounds like you are so happy. I have never been to Bhutan before but it looks beautiful there!

  13. Eileen says:

    This looks like it was an amazing trip! You have some great photos to capture the moment!

  14. Sophia says:

    This place looks incredible! I would love to go and visit here someday. So much natural beauty.

  15. Christa says:

    What an incredible trip! Bhutan has long been on my list of dream places to visit. I hope to make it there one day.

  16. Kaitlyn says:

    Looks like you enjoyed your trip. Great photos!

  17. Miljana says:

    Gorgeous! I love everything about this post, it really looks “happiness”. 🙂

  18. Ruth says:

    I wish I had the confidence to travel and just get away from it all at times. People always seem to have nothing but positive experiences. Bhutan looks absolutely beautiful and I love the photos 🙂

    • Madhurima says:

      Trust me Ruth, just go travel. Sometimes we all need that space to get away from all of it and experience a blissful journey of healing and transformation. For me, it happened in Bhutan 🙂 Power to you, girl!

  19. Ellie Plummer says:

    I’ve never thought about visiting Bhutan before but your photos are so stunning, I’ve definitely added it to my bucket list.

    • Madhurima says:

      Thanks a lot, Ellie! Bhutan is very beautiful. I am so glad that you’ve added it to your bucket list after reading my post 🙂 I would like to visit this place again and again.

  20. Geraline Batarra says:

    It’s great that you find and like a good tourist guide for you. Tourist guides are really a big deal when it comes to traveling.

  21. love faith more says:

    Such a wonderful place to visit and I love the photos so really amazing. Thank you for this happy sharing experience.

  22. Rhea says:

    I’ve been wanting to go in Bhutan for a long time! Thank you for sharing us your travel, I’m glad it help you with your emotional healing. This may be the most commonly cited benefit of travel. It can be source of inspiration. Meeting new people, seeing great art, new culture, hiking through magnificent landscapes and realizing you’re strong enough to get through the challenges that arise on the road can all offer positive effects that last well beyond the span of your trip.

    All the best!

    • Madhurima says:

      Thanks a lot, Rhea! I absolutely agree that the positive effects of travelling last well beyond the span of your trip and I just hope you visit Bhutan 🙂 I will be sharing my itinerary soon. Love.

  23. Tshering Dorji Drukpa says:

    Thank you so much madam. It was pleasure to read and understand. Thank you so much for mentioning me and my father too. It was nice experience with you all.

  24. Tshering Choki says:

    I am glad you enjoyed your trip to Bhutan. I just loved the way u put in ur thoughts in words and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for all the kind words about Bhutan. Keep traveling.

    • Madhurima says:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting on the blog. These words from you really mean a lot 🙂 Bhutan has truly been very special to me and I wish to visit the Land of Happiness again and again and again. I hope I am able to put my experience in words in the most authentic and best possible way. Keep me in your prayers. Thanks a lot.

  25. Tasha says:

    Bhutan looks so beautiful. A place I would love to travel to one day!

  26. Amber Solis says:

    Looks like an amazing place to travel. I hope someday I can travel to far off lands and explore the world. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Joanna says:

    I would love to visit Bhutan one day. I did hear it’s the land of happiness and that people are so kind there. Was it hard to visit? I’ve also heard that you can only go with an organised tour, which is very expensive.

    • Madhurima says:

      It wasn’t hard to visit, Joanna! You should visit Bhutan. It’s amazing! Fortunately, according to Bhutan’s tourism policy for regional tourists, nationals from India, Bangladesh and Maldives don’t require a visa to visit the country and booking through a tour operator is still not mandatory for them. But I would highly recommend that nationals from even these countries go with an organised tour for a better and hassle-free experience.

      People from other countries require a visa and also bookings done through a local tour operator or international partners prior to the visit. Tours are prepaid. As of now, all tourists (except the regional ones who are able to set their own travel budgets) must pay US$250 per person per day during high season (US$200 a day during low season from December to February and June to August), with a US$40/30 surcharge per person for those in a group of one/two. This covers accommodation, transport in Bhutan, a guide, food and entry fees.

  28. Natasha says:

    You have gathered some amazing photos here, but I have to agree with you. Once you visit a place you will always have a small portion of that culture in your heart forever!

  29. I never knew this was called the Land of Happiness! Glad it helped you!! Looks like you had a great time 🙂

  30. Sarah Stockley says:

    It is indeed extremely beautiful. The photos paint a great picture, they are so colourful.

  31. Clare Minall says:

    Such a fun and great experience you had. Looks like Bhutan is such a perfect place if you need peace and relaxation.

  32. Bhutan is an incredible place and one of the countries that I am yearning to visit! Beautiful post and love the photos

  33. Cindy says:

    You are right about the therapeutic effect of travelling. It definitively causes growth and discovery of oneself.

  34. Lisa Rios says:

    This looks amazing! I need to go to Bhutan one day.

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