7 Interesting things about Bhutan you probably didn't know!Thursday, June 26, 2014
1. A flower was so rare, it was thought to be a myth, like the Yeti!
|Rare Himalayan Blue Poppy|
That afternoon, I came to know that the gorgeous flower was Blue Poppy (Meconopsis Grandis) and that it is the national flower of Bhutan! Perfectly makes sense, a beautiful national flower for a beautiful country. But what I didn’t know was that this is a super rare flower, thought to be a Himalayan myth like the Yeti for several years because only a handful had ever reported seeing it. And if you are batman fan, you know that rare blue flower that grows on eastern slopes that Ra’s-al-ghul wanted Bruce Wayne to find so he can join the Shadow of the Leagues? Yup, this is the one! But that’s not all; this plant grows only in the barren high altitudes from 3000m to 5000m for several years before blooming only once and then dies. Oh if that’s not exclusive enough, it blooms only during a short window during early monsoons (Late May to July).
Talk about luck, that I walk about on some random hilltop and find the exotic rarity, the iconic Blue Poppy! (P.S - Still can’t wrap my head around it, that I saw something so rare)
2. A Capital City with no traffic lights!
|The glowing capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu.|
Anyhow, having seen the way people drive in Bhutan I guess they’ll do just fine without traffic lights. They easily give way to other vehicles and do not mind waiting to let other’s pass before them and when someone gives way, the driver always thanks them in return. Turns out Bhutan got the roads, motor vehicles, electricity etc only after the 60s, I wonder how long before they give in to the ways of the rest of the “developed” world like incessant honking and such. But for now, it is still the last Shangri-La.
3. Is it a goat? Is it a cow? It’s both, it’s a Takin!
|Takin, Bhutan's National Animal|
The legend goes something like this; there was once a “Divine Madman” who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. He was asked to perform a miracle during one of his lectures, to which he obliged but only if he was provided lunch – a full cow and goat. After his sumptuous meal, he rearranged the left out bones of the cow and goat, goat’s head on a cow’s body. With a click, the strange chimera was bought to life and it started grazing the pastures. Since this animal had many references in Bhutan’s folklore, the king deemed it fit to be a national animal. It was declared so in 1995.
Also, the National Bird is a raven!
Three eyed raven anyone?
4. That’s right! It’s an erect penis you saw painted on the house.
|Phalluses can be seen painted on the walls of many houses in Bhutan.|
5. Money doesn’t buy happiness and they know it!
|The iconic Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery at Paro, Bhutan|
6. Indian Army has a huge base in Bhutan!
|Indian Army Training Mission in Bhutan|
7. Only 8 pilots are qualified to fly into this airport!
|Landing and Taking Off from here is a tricky business, Paro Airport.|
Looking at the videos posted online, it’s scary how close the plane gets to the mountains. At places like this, there’s no room for error. No wonder only 8 pilots are skilled to nail the landing and take offs. In the video featured in the link below, we can see the pilot is taking sharp left and right turns at 1000ft, 500ft and even 100ft before landing! So basically we need skills like Baloo Bear from Talespin minus the crash landings. It is one airport where equal importance is given and should be given to visual judgment than relying on instruments.
So what do you think? Shocked or intrigued by any of these?
The images were shot with my trusty Canon EOS 500D, Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 and a Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens rented from Tapprs - A Bangalore Based Photography Gear Rental Company.