Bhutan – Happiness is a Place

It is rare enough to find a book that gives you a glimpse about the real beauty of our lives, but far more common to encounter a place where everything is apparent about being ‘peace-stained’. There is no doubt that Bhutan is one such place on earth, often referred to as the ‘last standing shangri-la’ amidst the great Himalayas.

Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world. Sandwiched between two giants, its population has approximately 700,000 people. It has become a place consecrated with rich natural and cultural ecologies, something that has always beguiled the outsiders. Its culture and tradition are so much swayed by the religion of Buddhism, which was first introduced by a great Buddhist saint called Guru Rinpoche in 476 AD.


There is perfect balance between modernity and preservation of culture and tradition. Based upon the Buddhist concept of interdependence between human and nature, the conservation of natural environment and making sure that this process does not turn out to be an ephemeral too takes an important priority. In doing so it has a lot to reciprocate, most importantly it has become an ultimate source of happiness for all.


Bhutan has been rated the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world. It has been often considered the last untouched place on earth. People really do seem happy here, however, many (especially foreigners) do wonder how long will the happiness last as they join the modern world?

The entire process of globalization, as it stretches its shadow across the globe; did have an immense affect upon Bhutan too. Bhutan has embraced this flux, yet, maintained adamant to grasp its culture. Indeed, a new approach has been comprehended, an approach known to the world as ‘Gross National Happiness’, or in Bhutanese vernacular, ‘Gyalyong Ghakey Pelzom’. This philosophy was introduced by the fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck with the purpose of guiding the people towards reaching the proximity of happiness. Ever since its preamble, every law or plans passes through the happiness filter first, making everything a likely way to happiness or at least to ebb the poignant among the people.


Nothing appeases the fact but the interminable inherent and benevolent nature of the people. A trace of beam across their faces regardless of the difference in their socioeconomic status forms a vital part in defining the Bhutanese legacy. The entire society is a collective based, with strong sense of sharing and compassion fervor, propelling people to reach out to the needy ones, making sure of the indispensable flux.

The beauty of the places and the landscapes are what amuses the people most. There is an excerpt “It is impossible to find words to express adequately the wonderful beauty and variety of scenery; I met with, during my journeys”, written by one of the English Visitor while sharing his experience about Bhutan.


Happiness is not the absence of unhappiness, but ability realized through them letting us choose and commit to something that has the potential to create a blissful society. With one step in the past, one in the present, the recipe of yesterday and today propels the people in generating a quaint yet a contemporary based tomorrow.

Happiness really is a place…

For more information about ATMA SEVA’s travel options in Bhutan, please click here.

Jigme Namgyel, research intern


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