Bhutan is an independent kingdom in the eastern Himalayas. It borders India, to the south and the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China to the north. King Jigme Singe Wangchuck is the present monarch and the fourth ruler of the dynasty founded by his great-grandfather in December 1907. Bhutan is a Buddhist kingdom and practice Mahayana Buddhism of the Drukpa Kagyupa sect. Because of its strict regulations and monitoring system, it was always difficult for outsiders to enter this Himalayan Kingdom. Centuries of isolation have kept the Bhutanese religion and culture to its original state. It is the most isolated country in the Himalayas, which opened up to tourism only in 1974. Two and a half decades have not brought much of a Western or industrialized influence into the Bhutanese society. Most of its natural resources have not been exploited for commercial development as yet. Ancient Dzong fortresses and monasteries, unspoiled landscape, lush green hills and valleys, turcoise blue mountain lakes, clean rivers, and sharp snow-capped mountains are among the attraction here. The highest mountain in Bhutan is Mount Chomolhari 7,200 meters.
The attraction of Bhutan includes not only the beautiful mountains but also its clean environment, sparsely populated countryside with attractive scenery, friendly people, great hospitality, and well preserved tradition and culture. Tsechu festivals are held in honor of Padma Sambhava, the Buddhist saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 11th century. The festivals consist of 3 to 5 days of spectacular mask dances performed by monks. These festivals are held in the months of February, March, April, June, September, October, November and December, usually between the second and the fourth week of each month. The Bhutanese gather in their finest clothing and jewelry in the courtyards of Dzong fortresses to witness and celebrate the sacred teachings of the Buddha. Tsechu festivals are the best times to visit Bhutan. Formal dress is required for all festivals.
Blue sheep, numerous species of birds including Tibetan snow-cock and Langur monkeys, in the river valleys with heavy forest cover, are some of the wildlife commonly seen along the Chomolhari and other highland trekking routes. We also encounter many nomadic Yak herders and villages in the valleys of the mountains.