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DOSSIER: Also at Home Elsewhere in the Himalaya

BHUTAN

Known as The Land of the Thunder Dragon and landlocked between the Tibetan region of China in the North and India in the South, Bhutan retains a mystique earned from centuries of isolation.

Half hidden in the crags of the Himalaya, the Taksang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) has to be the perfect metaphor for that remoteness just as it is also surely one of the true wonders of the World’s greatest mountains. Dating from the mid-17th century and clinging to its cliff-edge perch, this most sacred of Buddhist nyes is the iconic magnet drawing pilgrims and travellers alike.


The up-land farmer is the essence of Bhutan and farming families are scattered over the valley floor and up the rugged slopes of Bhumthang and Haa. The people there leave one with a powerful impression of simple dignity and self-reliance, while other colourful imagery are the Dzongs in each district - the traditional administrative building somewhat like, and with all the bustle of, a medieval town hall.

Tibet

Today this tiny country, reached by a short but utterly stunning flight from Kathmandu, is carefully weighing the prospects of globalisation in the 21st century, juggling the risks of marginalisation with over-exposure to the sharp contrast of outside pressures whilst weighing the opportunity of increasing trade and technological advancement.

No doubt Bhutan will continue to grapple with the challenges that confront all small developing countries. Having overcome formidable obstacles throughout its history, it constantly strives to maintain a delicate balance: to fulfil its population's basic needs without losing its rich human heritage and traditional values.

Tibet