The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
Click over the map to know the differences

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thimphu, the Capital of Bhutan; Image Gallery

A Masjid in Thimphu, Bhutan

According to Muslims constitute over 5% of the population However the CIA factbook claims that Muslims are less than 1% in Bhutan. In 2009, the Pew Research Center estimated that 1% of the population, or 7,000 people, were Muslims.

Archery Competition in Thimphu, Bhutan

Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat, while in modern times, its main use is that of a recreational activity. A person who participates in archery is typically known as an "archer" or "bowman", and one who is fond of or an expert at archery can be referred to as a "toxophilite".

The bow seems to have been invented in the later Paleolithic or early Mesolithic periods. The oldest indication for its use in Europe comes from the Stellmoor in the Ahrensburg valley north of Hamburg, Germany and dates from the late Paleolithic, about 10,000–9000 BCE. The arrows were made of pine and consisted of a mainshaft and a 15–20 centimetre (6–8 inches) long fore shaft with a flint point. There are no definite earlier bows; previous pointed shafts are known, but may have been launched by spear-throwers rather than bows. The oldest bows known so far come from the Holmegård swamp in Denmark. Bows eventually replaced the spear-thrower as the predominant means for launching shafted projectiles, on every continent except Australia, though spear-throwers persisted alongside the bow in parts of the Americas, notably Mexico (where the Nahuatl word for "spear-thrower" is atlatl) and amongst the Inuit. But the oldest "BOW" we know of is from ancient Egypt 2800 B.C.
Bows and arrows have been present in Egyptian culture since its predynastic origins. In the Levant, artifacts which may be arrow-shaft straighteners are known from the Natufian culture, (c. 12,800–10,300 BP (before present)) onwards. The Khiamian and PPN A shouldered Khiam-points may well be arrowheads.
Classical civilizations, notably the Assyrians, Persians, Parthians, Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Turks fielded large numbers of archers in their armies. The English longbow proved its worth for the first time in Continental warfare at the Battle of Crécy. In the Americas archery was widespread at European contact.

Archery was highly developed in Asia. The Sanskrit term for archery, dhanurveda, came to refer to martial arts in general. In East Asia, Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea was well known for its regiments of exceptionally skilled archers.

Empires throughout the Eurasian landmass often strongly associated their respective "barbarian" counterparts with the usage of the bow and arrow, to the point where powerful states like the Han Dynasty referred to their counterparts, the Xiong-nu, as "Those Who Draw the Bow" This association proved fitting, for numerous such nomadic groups demonstrated uncanny skill and innovation with regard to bow-wielding. In the aforementioned case of the Xiong-nu, for example, their lethal effectiveness as bowmen made them more than a match for the Han military, and was at least partially responsible for Chinese expansion into the Ordos region, to create a buffer zone against them. There even exists some evidence suggesting that "barbarian" peoples were responsible for introducing archery or certain types of bows to their "civilized" counterparts—the Xiong-nu and the Han being one possible example of this type of exchange. Another example, short bow technology seems to have been introduced to Japan by northeast Asian nomadic groups. Archaeological findings in Northern Japan have uncovered the type of short, composite bows most commonly associated with the northeast Asian region, contrasting heavily with the traditional Japanese longbows, routinely longer than six and a half feet.

Innovations in archery made by other such groups generated another iconic image associated with the face of the barbarian: that of the mounted archer. The invention of composite, recurve short bows allowed for a level of maneuverability previously unseen, giving these "barbarian" groups the ability to shoot from horseback with devastating results. "For the first time arrows could be fired behind the rider with penetrating power. This maneuver, later known as the "Parthian shot", was immortalized as the iconic image of the steppe archer...An army of mounted archers could now fill the sky with arrows that struck with killing power." Central Asian tribesmen (after the domestication of the horse) and American Plains Indians (after gaining access to horses) thus became extremely adept at archery on horseback. Lightly armoured, but highly mobile archers were excellently suited to warfare in the Central Asian steppes, and they repeatedly conquered large areas of Eurasia. Perhaps most famously, Mongol horsemen were renowned for fielding mounted archers in their armies. Both mounted soldiers and infantry were issued bows in the Mongol army, and one of the most effective Mongol Strategies involved showering the enemy with massive torrents of arrows unleashed by all of these bow-wielding warriors, and using the ensuing chaos to lure enemy troops into lines of heavy cavalry. As a result, the Mongols were able to conquer vast expanses previously unheard of thanks to their proficiency with archery and mounted warfare.

The development of firearms rendered bows obsolete in warfare. Despite the high social status, ongoing utility, and widespread pleasure of archery in Armenia, China, Egypt, England, America, India, Japan, Korea, Turkey and elsewhere almost every culture that gained access to even early firearms used them widely, to the neglect of archery. Early firearms were vastly inferior in rate-of-fire, and were very susceptible to wet weather. However, they had longer effective range and were tactically superior in the common situation of soldiers shooting at each other from behind obstructions. They also required significantly less training to use properly, in particular penetrating steel armour without any need to develop special musculature. Armies equipped with guns could thus provide superior firepower, and highly-trained archers became obsolete on the battlefield. However, the bow and arrow is still an effective form of violence, and archers have seen action in the 21st century. Traditional archery remains in use for sport, and for hunting in many areas.

In the United States, competition archery and bowhunting for many years used English-style longbows. The revival of modern primitive archery may be traced to Ishi, who came out of hiding in California in 1911 Ishi was the last of the Yahi Indian tribe. His doctor, Saxton Pope, learned many of Ishi's archery skills, and passed them on. The Pope and Young Club, founded in 1961 and named in honor of Pope and his friend, Arthur Young, is one of North America's leading bowhunting and conservation organizations. Founded as a nonprofit scientific organization, the Club is patterned after the prestigious Boone and Crockett Club. The Club advocates and encourages responsible bowhunting by promoting quality, fair chase hunting, and sound conservation practices.

From the 1920s, professional engineers took an interest in archery, previously the exclusive field of traditional craft experts. They led the commercial development of new forms of bow including the modern recurve and compound bow. These modern forms are now dominant in modern Western archery; traditional bows are in a minority. In the 1980s, the skills of traditional archery were revived by American enthusiasts, and combined with the new scientific understanding. Much of this expertise is available in the Traditional Bowyer's Bibles (see Additional reading). Modern game archery owes much of its success to Fred Bear, an American bow hunter and bow manufacturer.

At the end of the eighteenth-century archery became popular among the English gentry thanks to a fashion for the gothic, curious and medieval. Encouraged by Royal patronage and, later, the popularity of the work of Sir Walter Scott, archery societies were set up across the country, each with its own strict entry criteria, outlandish costumes and extravagant balls. The clubs were "the drawing rooms of the great country houses placed outside" and thus came to play an important role in the social networks of local elites. As well as its emphasis on display and status, the sport was notable for its popularity with females. Young women could not only compete in the contests but retain and show off their "feminine forms" while doing so. Thus, archery came to act as a forum for introductions, flirtation and romance.

Deities and heroes in several mythologies are described as archers, including the Greek Artemis and Apollo, the Roman Diana and Cupid, the Germanic Agilaz, continuing in legends like those of Wilhelm Tell, Palnetoke, or Robin Hood. Armenian Hayk and Babylonian Marduk, Indian Arjuna, Abhimanyu, Eklavya, Karna, Rama, and Shiva, and Persian Arash were all archers. Earlier Greek representations of Heracles normally depict him as an archer.

The Nymphai Hyperboreioi (Νύμφαι Ὑπερβόρειοι) were worshipped on the Greek island of Delos as attendants of Artemis, presiding over aspects of archery; Hekaerge (Ἑκαέργη), represented distancing, Loxo (Λοξώ), trajectory, and Oupis (Οὖπις), aim.

In East Asia, Yi the archer and his apprentice Feng Meng appear in several early Chinese myths, and the historical character of Zhou Tong features in many fictional forms. Jumong, the first Taewang of the Goguryeo kingdom of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, is claimed by legend to have been a near-godlike archer. Archery features in the story of Oguz Khagan.

In West African Yoruba belief, Osoosi is one of several deities of the hunt who are identified with bow and arrow iconography and other insignia associated with archery.

While there is great variety in the construction details of bows (both historic and modern) all bows consist of a string attached to elastic limbs that store mechanical energy imparted by the user drawing the string. Bows may be broadly split into two categories: those drawn by pulling the string directly and those that use a mechanism to pull the string.

Directly drawn bows may be further divided based upon differences in the method of limb construction, notable examples being self bows, laminated bows and composite bows. Bows can also be classified by the bow shape of the limbs when unstrung; in contrast to simple straight bows, a recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. The cross-section of the limb also varies; the classic longbow is a tall bow with narrow limbs that are D-shaped in cross section, and the flatbow has flat wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section. The classic D-shape comes from the use of the wood of the yew tree. The sap-wood is best suited to the tension on the back of the bow, and the heart-wood to the compression on the belly. Hence, a cross-section of a yew longbow shows the narrow, light-coloured sap-wood on the 'straight' part of the D, and the red/orange heartwood forms the curved part of the D, to balance the mechanical tension/compression stress. Cable-backed bows use cords as the back of the bow; the draw weight of the bow can be adjusted by changing the tension of the cable. They were widespread among Inuit who lacked easy access to good bow wood. One variety of cable-backed bow is the Penobscot bow or Wabenaki bow, invented by Frank Loring (Chief Big Thunder) about 1900. It consists of a small bow attached by cables on the back of a larger main bow.

Compound bows are designed to reduce the force required to hold the string at full draw, hence allowing the archer more time to aim with less muscular stress. Most compound designs use cams or elliptical wheels on the ends of the limbs to achieve this. A typical let-off is anywhere from 65%–80%. For example, a 60-pound bow with 80% let-off will only require 12 pounds of force to hold at full draw. Up to 99% let-off is possible. The compound bow was invented by Holless Wilbur Allen in the 1960s (a US patent was filed in 1966 and granted in 1969) and it has become the most widely used type of bow for all forms of archery in North America.

Mechanically drawn bows typically have a stock or other mounting, such as the crossbow. They are not limited by the strength of a single archer and larger varieties have been used as siege engines.

The most common form of arrow consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end and with fletchings and a nock attached to the other end. Arrows across time and history are normally carried in a container known as a quiver. Shafts of arrows are typically composed of solid wood, fiberglass, aluminium alloy, carbon fiber, or composite materials. Wooden arrows are prone to warping. Fiberglass arrows are brittle, but can be produced to uniform specifications easily. Aluminium shafts were a very popular high-performance choice in the latter half of the 20th century due to their straightness, lighter weight, and subsequently higher speed and flatter trajectories. Carbon fiber arrows became popular in the 1990s and are very light, flying even faster and flatter than aluminium arrows. Today, arrows made up of composite materials are the most popular tournament arrows at Olympic Events, especially the Easton X10 and A/C/E.

The arrowhead is the primary functional component of the arrow. Some arrows may simply use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but it is far more common for separate arrowheads to be made, usually from metal, stone, or other hard materials. The most commonly used forms are target points, field points, and broadheads, although there are also other types, such as bodkin, judo, and blunt heads.

Fletching is traditionally made from bird feathers. Also solid plastic vanes and thin sheetlike spin vanes are used. They are attached near the nock (rear) end of the arrow with thin double sided tape, glue, or, traditionally, sinew. Three fletches is the most common configuration in all cultures, though as many as six have been used. Two will result in unstable arrow flight. When three-fletched the fletches are equally spaced around the shaft with one placed such that it is perpendicular to the bow when nocked on the string (though with modern equipment, variations are seen especially when using the modern spin vanes). This fletch is called the "index fletch" or "cock feather" (also known as "the odd vane out" or "the nocking vane") and the others are sometimes called the "hen feathers". Commonly, the cock feather is of a different color. However, if archers are using fletching made of feather or similar material, they may use same color vanes, as different dyes can give varying stiffness to vanes, resulting in less precision. When four-fletched, often two opposing fletches are cock feathers and occasionally the fletches are not evenly spaced.

The fletching may be either parabolic (short feathers in a smooth parabolic curve) or shield (generally shaped like half of a narrow shield) cut and is often attached at an angle, known as helical fletching, to introduce a stabilizing spin to the arrow while in flight. Whether helicial or straight fletched, when natural fletching (bird feathers) are used it is critical that all feathers come from the same side of the bird. Oversized fletchings can be used to accentuate drag and thus limit the range of the arrow significantly; these arrows are called flu-flus. Misplacement of fletchings can often change the arrow's flight path dramatically.

Dacron and other modern materials offer high strength for their weight and are used on most modern bows. Linen and other traditional materials are still used on traditional bows. Almost any fiber can be made into a bow string. The author of "Arab Archery" suggests the hide of a young, emaciated camel. Njál's saga describes the refusal of a wife, Hallgerður, to cut her hair in order to make an emergency bowstring for her husband, Gunnar Hámundarson, who is then killed.

Most archers wear a bracer (also known as an arm-guard) to protect the inside of the bow arm from being hit by the string and prevent clothing from catching the bow string. The bracer does not brace the arm; the word comes from the armoury term "brassard", meaning an armoured sleeve or badge. The Navajo people have developed highly-ornamented bracers as non-functional items of adornment. Some archers (mostly women) also wear protection on their chests, called chestguards or plastrons. The myth of the Amazons was that they had one breast removed to solve this problem. Roger Ascham mentions one archer, presumably with an unusual shooting style, who wore a leather guard for his face.

The drawing digits are normally protected by a leather tab, glove, or thumb ring. A simple tab of leather is commonly used, as is a skeleton glove. Medieval Europeans probably used a complete leather glove.

Eurasiatic archers who used the thumb or Mongolian draw protected their thumbs, usually with leather according to the author of Arab Archery, but also with special rings of various hard materials. Many surviving Turkish and Chinese examples are works of considerable art. Some are so highly ornamented that the users could not have used them to loose an arrow. Possibly these were items of personal adornment, and hence value, remaining extant whilst leather had virtually no intrinsic value and would also deteriorate with time. In traditional Japanese archery a special glove is used, provided with a ridge which is used to draw the string.

A release aid is a mechanical device designed to give a crisp and precise loose of arrows from a compound bow. In the most commonly used, the string is released by a finger-operated trigger mechanism, held in the archer's hand or attached to their wrist. In another type, known as a back-tension release, the string is automatically released when drawn to a pre-determined tension.

The standard convention on teaching archery, is to hold the bow depending upon eye dominance. Therefore, if you were right eye dominant, you would hold the bow in the left hand, and draw the string with the right hand. Not everybody agrees with this line of thought, though. A smoother, and more fluid release of the string produces the finest and most consistently repeatable shots, and therefore determines the accuracy of the arrow flight. There are some who believe that the hand with the greatest dexterity, should be the hand that draws and releases the string. Either eye can be used for aiming, and even the less dominant eye can be trained over time to effectively become the more dominant. This can be achieved by retraining with the use of an eye-patch over the dominant eye as a temporary measure.

The hand that holds the bow is referred to as the bow hand and its arm the bow arm. The opposite hand is called the drawing hand or string hand. Terms such as bow shoulder or string elbow follow the same convention.
If shooting according to eye dominance, then right-eye-dominant archers, shooting in a conventional way, will hold the bow with their left hand.

If shooting according to hand dexterity, then the string will be drawn with whichever hand possesses the greatest dexterity, regardless of eye dominance.

To shoot an arrow, an archer first assumes the correct stance. The body should be at or nearly perpendicular to the target and the shooting line, with the feet placed shoulder-width apart. As an archer progresses from beginner to a more advanced level other stances such as the "open stance" or the "closed stance" may be used, although many choose to stick with a "neutral stance". Each archer will have a particular preference but mostly this term indicates that the leg furthest from the shooting line will be a half to a whole foot-length from the other foot, on the ground.

To load, the bow is pointed toward the ground, tipped slightly clockwise of vertical (for a right handed shooter) and the shaft of the arrow is placed on the arrow rest or shelf. The back of the arrow is attached to the bowstring with the nock (a small locking groove located at the proximal end of the arrow). This step is called "nocking the arrow". Typical arrows with three vanes should be oriented such that a single vane, the "cock feather", is pointing away from the bow, to improve the clearance of the arrow as it passes the arrow rest.

A compound bow is fitted with a special type of arrow rest, known as a launcher, and the arrow is usually loaded with the cock feather/vane pointed either up, or down, depending upon the type of launcher being used.

The bowstring and arrow are held with three fingers, or with a mechanical arrow release. Most commonly, for finger shooters, the index finger is placed above the arrow and the next two fingers below, although several other techniques have their adherents around the world, involving three fingers below the arrow, or an arrow pinching technique. Instinctive shooting is a technique eschewing sights and is often preferred by traditional archers (shooters of longbows and recurves). In either the split finger or three finger under case, the string is usually placed in either the first or second joint of the fingers.

Another type of string hold, used on traditional bows, is the type favoured by the Mongol warriors, known as the "thumb release", style. This involves using the thumb to draw the string, with the fingers curling around the thumb to add some support. To release the string, the fingers are opened out and the thumb relaxes to allow the string to slide off the thumb. When using this type of release, the arrow should rest on the same side of the bow as the drawing hand i.e. Left hand draw = arrow on left side of bow.

The bow is then raised and drawn, with varying alignments used for vertical versus slightly canted bow positions. This is often one fluid motion for shooters of recurves and longbows which tends to vary from archer to archer, although for a compound shooter, there is often a slightly-jerky movement occurring during the drawback of the arrow at around midpoint where the draw weight is at its maximum, before relaxing into a comfortable stable full draw position. The string hand is drawn towards the face, where it should rest lightly at the chosen fixed anchor point. This point is consistent from shot to shot and is usually at the corner of the mouth, on the chin, to the cheek, or to the ear, depending upon one's preferred shooting style. The bow arm is held outwards toward the target. The elbow of this arm should be rotated so that the inner elbow is perpendicular to the ground, though archers with hyper extendable elbows tend to angle the inner elbow toward the ground as exemplified by the Korean archer Jang Yong-Ho.

In modern form, the archer stands erect, forming a "T". The archer's lower trapezius muscles are used to pull the arrow to the anchor point. Some modern bows will be equipped with a mechanical device, called a clicker, which produces a clicking sound when the archer reaches the correct draw length. In contrast, traditional English Longbow shooters step "into the bow", exerting force with both the bow arm and the string hand arm simultaneously, especially when using bows having draw weights from 100 lbs to over 175 lbs. Heavily-stacked traditional bows (recurves, long bows, and the like) are released immediately upon reaching full draw at maximum weight, whereas compound bows reach their maximum weight in or around mid-draw, dropping holding weight significantly at full draw. Compound bows are often held at full draw for a short time to achieve maximum accuracy.

The arrow is typically released by relaxing the fingers of the drawing hand (see Bow draw), or triggering the mechanical release aid. Usually the release aims to keep the drawing arm rigid, the bow hand relaxed, and the arrow is moved back using the back muscles, as opposed to using just arm motions. An archer should also pay attention to the recoil or follow through of his or her body, as it may indicate problems with form (technique) that affect accuracy.

There are two main forms of aiming in archery: using a mechanical or fixed sight or barebow. Barebow aiming methods include Gap, Split Vision, Point of Aim, String Walking, Face Walking and Instinctive aiming.

Mechanical sights can be affixed to the bow to aid in aiming. They can be as simple as a pin or optical with magnification. They usually also have a peep sight (rear sight) built into the string which aids in a consistent anchor point. Modern compound bows automatically limit the draw length which gives a consistent arrow velocity while traditional bows allow great variation in draw length. Mechanical methods to make a traditional bow's draw length consistent are sometimes used. Instinctive archers use a sight picture which includes the target, the bow, the hand, the arrow shaft and the arrow tip, as seen at the same time by the archer. With a fixed "anchor point" (where the string is brought to, or close to, the face), and a fully extended bow arm, successive shots taken with the sight picture in the same position will fall on the same point. This allows the archer to adjust aim with successive shots in order to achieve accuracy. Modern archery equipment usually includes sights. Instinctive aiming is used by many archers who use traditional bows. The two most common forms of a non-mechanical release are split-finger and three-under. Split-finger aiming requires the archer to place the index finger above the nocked arrow, while the middle and ring fingers are both placed below. Three-under aiming places the index, middle, and ring fingers under the nocked arrow. This technique allows the archer to better look down the arrow since the back of the arrow is closer to the dominant eye, and is commonly called "gun barreling" (referring to common aiming techniques used with firearms).

When using short bows, or shooting from horseback, it is difficult to use the sight picture. The archer may look at the target but without including the weapon in the field of accurate view. Aiming involves a similar sort of hand/eye coordination which includes proprioception and motor/muscle memory between the mind/body connection that is used when throwing a baseball or shooting a basketball. With sufficient practice, such archers can normally achieve good practical accuracy for hunting or for war. Aiming without a sight picture may allow more rapid shooting.

Instinctive shooting is a style of shooting that includes the barebow aiming method that relies heavily upon the subconscious mind, proprioception, and motor/muscle memory to make aiming adjustments; the term used to refer to a general category of archers who did not use a mechanical or fixed sight.

When a projectile is thrown by hand, the speed of the projectile is determined by the kinetic energy imparted by the thrower's muscles performing work. However, the energy must be imparted over a limited distance (determined by arm length) and therefore (because the projectile is accelerating) over a limited time, so the limiting factor is not work but rather power, which determined how much energy can be added in the limited time available. Power generated by muscles, however, is limited by force–velocity relationship, and even at the optimal contraction speed for power production, total work done by the muscle will be less than half of what could be done if the muscle were contracting over the same distance at very slow speeds, resulting in less than 1/4 the projectile launch velocity possible without the limitations of the force–velocity relationship.

When a bow is used, the muscles are able to perform work much more slowly, resulting in greater force and greater work done. This work is stored in the bow as elastic potential energy, and when the bowstring is released, this stored energy is imparted to the arrow much more quickly than can be delivered by the muscles, resulting in much higher velocity and, hence, greater distance. This same process is employed by frogs, which use elastic tendons to increase jumping distance. In archery, some energy is dissipated through elastic hysteresis, reducing the overall amount released when the bow is shot. Of the energy remaining, some is dampened both by the limbs of the bow and the bowstring. Depending on the elasticity of the arrow, some of the energy is also absorbed by compressing the arrow, primarily because the release of the bowstring is rarely in line with the arrow shaft, causing it to flex out to one side. This is because the bowstring accelerates faster than the archer's fingers can open, and consequently some sideways motion is imparted to the string, and hence arrow nock, as the power and speed of the bow pulls the string off the opening fingers. Even with a release aid mechanism some of this effect will usually be experienced, since the string always accelerates faster than the retaining part of the mechanism. This results in an in-flight oscillation of the arrow in which its center flexes out to one side and then the other repeatedly, gradually reducing as the arrow's flight proceeds; this can be clearly seen in high-speed photography of an arrow at discharge. A direct effect of these energy transfers can clearly be seen when dry firing. Dry firing refers to releasing the bow string without a knocked arrow. Because there is no arrow to receive the stored potential energy, all the energy stays in the bow. Because most bows are not made to handle the high amounts of energy dry firing produces, it should never be attempted and can cause physical damage to the bow such as cracks and fractures.

Modern arrows are made to a specified 'spine', or stiffness rating, to maintain matched flexing and hence accuracy of aim. This flexing can be a desirable feature, since, when the spine of the shaft is matched to the acceleration of the bow(string), the arrow bends or flexes around the bow and any arrow-rest, and consequently the arrow, and fletchings, have an un-impeded flight. This feature is known as the archer's paradox. It maintains accuracy, for if part of the arrow struck a glancing blow on discharge, some inconsistency would be present, and the excellent accuracy of modern equipment would not be achieved.

The accurate flight of an arrow is dependent on its fletching. The arrow's manufacturer (a "fletcher") can arrange fletching to cause the arrow to rotate along its axis. This improves accuracy by evening pressure buildups that would otherwise cause the arrow to "plane" on the air in a random direction after shooting. Even though the arrow be made with extreme care, the slightest imperfection, or air movement, will cause some unbalanced turbulence in air flow. Consequently, rotation creates an equalling of such turbulence, which, overall, maintains the intended direction of flight i.e. accuracy. This rotation is not to be confused with the rapid gyroscopic rotation of a rifle bullet. If the fletching is not arranged to induce rotation, it will still improve accuracy by causing a restoring drag any time the arrow tilts away from its intended direction of travel.

The innovative aspect of the invention of the bow and arrow was the amount of power delivered to an extremely small area by the arrow. The huge ratio of length vs cross sectional area coupled with velocity made the arrow orders of magnitude more powerful than any other hand held weapon until firearms were invented. Arrows may be designed to spread or concentrate force, depending on their applications. Practice arrows, for instance, can use a blunt tip that spreads the force over a wider area to reduce the risk of injury or limit penetration. Arrows designed to pierce armor in the Middle Ages would use a very narrow and sharp tip ("bodkinhead") to concentrate the force. Arrows used for hunting would use a narrow tip ("broadhead") that widens further, to facilitate both penetration and a large wound.

Using archery to take game animals is known as "bow hunting". Bow hunting differs markedly from hunting with firearms, as the distances between the hunter and the game are much shorter in order to ensure a humane kill. The skills and practices of bow hunting therefore emphasize very close approach to the prey, whether by still hunting, stalking, or waiting in a blind or tree stand. In many countries, including much of the United States, bow hunting for large and small game is legal. Bow hunters generally enjoy longer seasons than are allowed with other forms of hunting such as black powder, shotgun, or rifle. Usually, compound bows are used for large game hunting and may feature fiber optic sights and other enhancements. Using a bow and arrow to take fish is known as "bow fishing".

Competitive archery involves shooting arrows at a target for accuracy from a set distance or distances. This is the most popular form of competitive archery worldwide and is called target archery. A form particularly popular in Europe and America is field archery, shot at targets generally set at various distances in a wooded setting. Para-Archery is an adaptation of archery for athletes with a disability. It is governed by the World Archery Federation (WA), and is one of the sports in the Summer Paralympic Games. There are also several other lesser-known and historical forms of archery, as well as archery novelty games.

The Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), Thimphu, Bhutan

The Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS, Dzongkha: འབྲུག་རྒྱང་བསྒྲགས་ལས་འཛིན) is the national radio and television service in Bhutan. A public service corporation, it is fully funded by the State and it is currently the only service to offer both radio and television to the Kingdom, and is the only television service to broadcast from inside the Bhutanese border.

For many years, Bhutan did not have modern telecommunications. The first radio broadcasts commenced in November 1973, when the National Youth Association of Bhutan (NYAB) began radio transmissions of news and music for a half-hour each Sunday, under the name "Radio NYAB." The transmitter was first rented from a local telegraph office in Thimphu. The government took over Radio NYAB in 1979, and renamed it the Bhutan Broadcasting Service in 1986, with expansions in radio scheduling as well as construction of a modern broadcast facility occurring in 1991.

For a long time, Bhutan was the only nation in the world to ban television. The first night of television broadcasts finally occurred on June 2, 1999, on the night of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck's silver jubilee.

Shortwave radio reached all of Bhutan in 1991. In June 2000, FM stations opened in the south and west of the country, expanding to central Bhutan in January 2001. By the end of 2005, FM radio service reached the entire country. Since November 2009, radio airs for 24 hours a day (23 hours and 21 minutes taking into account pauses and connection breaks), with the low listening times of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. featuring repeats of the previous day's schedule. 14 hours and 45 minutes of each broadcast day is broadcast in Dzongkha, with 3 hours and 45 minutes broadcast in English, 2 hours and 53 minutes in Sharchop and an hour and 58 minutes in Lhotsam.

News, documentaries, and entertainment programs were originally broadcast for one hour in the evening (7 p.m. to 8 p.m.), seven days a week, but expanded to four hours (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) in December 2004. Once limited to the capital city, television service spread to the entire Kingdom via satellite in February 2006.

In 2008, BBS expanded their television schedule to air from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Most of the programming is aired in Dzongkha, but two current events and news programs each night are aired in English.

The programming from the previous night is repeated from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. the next morning. Special entertainment and music request programs are also aired between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Although BBS is extremely popular among the Bhutanese people, a series of mismanagement has plagued its growth. Chiefly among the reasons cited is the government's attempt to keep it under its control by deputing senior civil servants as CEOs and by toying with the annual budget string.

On December 6, 2012, the Indian Intelligence Bureau had red flagged Bhutan Broadcasting Service as a hate channel among 24 others for beaming anti-India programmes. A proposal for action was sent to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs.

Budhha Dordenma, a Shakyamuni Statue near Thimphu

Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue under construction in the mountains of Bhutan. The statue will house over one lakh (one hundred thousand) smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the Buddha Dordenma itself, will be made of bronze and gilded in gold. The Buddha Dordenma is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the thirteenth Desi Druk, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Upon completion, it will be one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters). Although its completion was planned for October 2010, construction is still ongoing as of November 2012.

The statue alone is being built at a cost of US$47 million, by Aerosun Corporation of Nanjing, China, while the total cost of the Buddha Dordenma Project is well over US$100 million. The interior will accommodate 100,000 8-inch-tall and 25,000 12-inch-tall gilded Buddhas respectively. Names of sponsors will be displayed in the meditation hall which forms the throne of the Buddha Dordenma.

Apart from commemorating the centennial of the Bhutanese monarchy, it fulfills two prophecies. In the twentieth century, the renowned yogi Sonam Zangpo prophesied that a large statue of either Padmasambhava, Buddha or of a phurba would be built in the region to bestow blessings, peace and happiness on the whole world. Additionally the statue is mentioned in the ancient terma of Guru Padmasambhava himself, said to date from approximately the eighth century, and recovered some 800 years ago by terton Pema Lingpa.

Under the eyes of the Buddha statue, the Kuenselphodrang nature park was formally opened as a recreational park in 2011. The park conserves 943.4 acres of forest area that surrounds the Buddha Dordenma statue.

Chargi Monastery (Also Known as Cheri Monastery) in Thimphu

Chagri Dorjeden Monastery also called "Cheri Monastery" is a Buddhist monastery in Bhutan established in 1620, by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal the founder of the Butanese state.

The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order, is located at the northern end of Thimphu Valley about fifteen kilometers from the capital. It sits on a hill above the end of the road at Dodeyna and it takes about an hour to walk up the steep hill to reach the monastery from there.

According to Bhutanese religious histories, the place was first visited by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was visited by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan.

Chagri Dorjeden was the first monastery established in Bhutan by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620 when he was 27 years old. Zhabdrung spent three years in strict retreat at Chagri and resided there for many periods throughout the rest of his life. It was at Chagri in 1623 that he established the first Drukpa Kagyu monastic order in Bhutan.

Changangkha Lhakhang Monastery in Thimphu

Changangkha temple is one of the oldest of the Thimphu valley since it was built at the 15th century, by a descendant of the son of Phajo Drugom Shigpo, the founder of the school of Drukpas in Bhutan. Changangkha Monastery was built in the 15 century by Lama Phajo Drigom. It lies on a hilltop commanding the Thimpu valley. The temple has very old scriptures and Thankas. The main deity of the temple is Avalokiteshvara, God of compassion.

Changangkha Lhakhang is an old fortresslike temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu, southeast of Motithang. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who came from Ralung in Tibet. The central statue is Chenresig in an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation. There are enormous prayer wheels to spin and even the prayer books in the temple are larger in size than usual Tibetan texts.

Changlimithang Stadium, Thimohu, Bhutan

Changlimithang Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan, which serves as the National Stadium. It is currently used mostly for football and archery matches. The stadium holds 25,000. Changlimithang stadium was also the venue of Bhutan's first open theatrical production, which was A Tale of Two Cities.

The stadium was built in 1974 to celebrate the Coronation of the fourth Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1974. It had a capacity to hold 10,000 spectators. However, it was completely refurbished in 2007 to accommodate 25,000 spectators for the Centenary of Wangchuk Dynasty rule in Bhutan and also the Coronation Celebrations of the fifth king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, held on November 6, 2008. It now covers an area of about 11 hectares (27 acres). This was also the location where national celebrations were held from the time of the 3rd King of Bhutan. Historicity of the Changlimithang ground is traced to the 1885 battle that established the political supremacy of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, Bhutan’s first king. Adjacent to the main stadium are the football ground, the cricket field and archery range. Numerous archery tournaments are held here with both the imported compound bows and traditional bamboo bows. The main stadium is used for multipurpose sports and other functions. A documentary film known as “The Other Final” was filmed based on a special football match arranged by Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), on June 30, 2002, that was played between the 202nd-ranked Bhutan and 203rd-ranked Montserrat (out of 203 worldwide), in which Bhutan won 4-0. In November 2012 astro-turf was laid at the National Stadium. On Thursday 8 March 2012, the FIFA President Joseph Blatter inaugurated football pitches belonging to the Bhutan Football Federation next to the National Stadium in the presence of Prince Jigyel in a special groundbreaking ceremony.

Dechen Phodrang Monastery, Thimphu, Bhutan

Dechen Phrodrang meaning "Palace of Great Bliss" is a Buddhist monastery in Thimphu, Bhutan. It is located to the north of the city.

In 1971 it became a monastic school and currently it has 450 student monks enrolled in eight-year courses with a staff of 15. The monastery contains a number of important historical Bhutanese artifacts including 12th century paintings monitored by UNESCO and a noted statue of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal on the upper floor. In the downstairs chapel, there is a central Sakyamuni Buddha.

Dechencholing Palace, Thimphu, Bhutan

Dechencholing Palace (བདེ་ཆེན་ཆོས་གླིང་, Wylie: bde chen chos gling) is located in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to the north of the Tashichho Dzong and 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) north of the city centre. It was built in 1953 by the third king of Bhutan Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.

The palace lies at the northern end of the Thimphu Valley, on the west bank of the Thimphu River. The palace is accessed via the Dechhen Lam (road) which runs along the eastern bank of the Thimphu river from the district of Yangchenphug, through Langjupakha for several kilometres before approaching the palace. On the way to the palace the road passes the Royal Banquet Hall, the Centre for Bhutan Studies, the Woodcraft Centre and then passes the Indian Estate on the other side of the river. Just south of the palace on the other side of the river is the suburb of Taba. The palace is surrounded by forest to the east and west; the eastern forest is denser and is said to be the only leafy forest in the city. On a slope in the forest high above Taba is the Wangchuk Resort, used as a meditation retreat.

Dechencholing Palace was built in 1953 after the coronation of the third King of Bhutan, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, following the death of his father, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Wangchuck, in 1952. The third king's son Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born here on 11 November 1955. Later, one hundred thousand Raksha Thotreng rituals were performed at the palace as a beneficial rite for the public enthronement of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1974.

The late Royal Grandmother, Druk Gyalpo’s mother the Dowager Queen Pemadechen (Ashi Kesang Dorji), popularly known as Gayum Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck, lived in this palace as a Buddhist nun. However, the present King does not stay in this palace, as the royal residence is now at the Samteling Palace (Royal Cottage).

The palace is frequently used for international delegations, especially those with India. Indian ambassadors regularly visit the palace to discuss international relations between India and Bhutan. It is also the venue for hosting luncheons and banquets for Head of the States and other important guests of Bhutan.

The palace is a three-storied building set amidst willow trees, lawns and ponds. Except for the present King, other members of the Royal family reside here. Its architecture is entirely in Bhutanese traditional style including the furnishings inside. The palace interior furnishings are said to be encased in metal in repoussé technique superimposed on white velvet.

The late Royal Grandmother, Gayum Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck lived in this palace for many years and possessed her own chapel, adorned with paintings and carvings and candles burning from bowls. Gayum employed a number of women at the palace to weave garments for men and women, producing national dress costumes. As the palace frequently hosts international delegations, it has its own helipad to facilitate swift access even though there is no airport in Thimphu.

In 1957, King Druk Gyalpo Jigme Wangchuck commissioned a skilled artist named Lam Durlop Dorji of Bumthang to open an embroidery school at the palace, to instruct some 30 young monks in this field. The school has produced several notable thangka embroideries, notably Thongdrel (large thangkas hanging from the roof tops of monasteries and dzongs), and Thangkas (scroll paintings). As Bhutan is a Tibetan Buddhist nation this school heavily revolves around Buddhism which is reflected in its artwork.

The National Referral Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan

The National Referral Hospital (full name Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital) is the main hospital in Bhutan, located in the capitol, Thimphu. Since it was established in 1972, the hospital has been supplying free basic medical treatment as well as advanced surgeries and emergency services to citizens from all over the country. It provides the most sophisticated health evaluation and management services in the country. Recently the hospital has added CT and MRI diagnosis equipment and improved lab services. The hospital has a library with many current textbooks.

The hospital is one of five medical service centers within Thimphu. The others are two Indian hospitals (DANTAK hospital at Semtokha and IMTRAT hospital in the main town), the BHU in Dechencholing and the Outreach Clinic in Motithang.

In 1991 the most prevalent diseases in Bhutan in order of seriousness were respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea/dysentery, skin infections, worm infections, malaria, conjunctivitis, peptic ulcer syndrome, otitis media, tooth and gum diseases, urinary tract infections and nephritis, childhood diseases, sexually-transmitted diseases, diseases of the female genital tract and complications in pregnancy and childbirth puerperium.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Department handles about 3,000 deliveries annually. However, with growing demand, the existing worn-out equipment is insufficient in quantity and quality. Difficulties of proper monitoring and timely intervention has led to avoidable caesarean operations and stillbirths on rare occasions. Recently, assisted by the government of Japan, the department has been able to obtain new equipment including vacuum sets for delivery, phototherapy machines, infant warmers, foetal dopplers, CTG machines and ultrasound.

Alcohol-related liver disease has been a major cause of death in Bhutan during recent years. Health ministry statistics showed that 98 of 1,471 patients in Thimpu Referral Hospital died of this cause in 2007. The hospital admitted around the same number of patients in 2008, but better medication helped lower the death rate.

Between four to ten cases relating to domestic violence affecting women from all walks of life are reported to the hospital every day. Jealousy, intoxication, and financial problems seem to be the main causes.

In October 2008, the hospital detected the first case of dengue fever of resident of the capital in a 63-year-old woman. The woman was admitted to hospital on September 2 with fever and pain in the limbs.

In the late 1990s, a plan was launched to upgrade the 175-bed Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Hospital to a national referral hospital with assistance from the government of India. After study, the existing structure was found to be too weak to upgrade. The planners proposed a new 350-bed hospital. By 2002 a lab building, compound wall, gift shop, doctors and nurses quarter and internal road has been completed. The project was planned to be complete by the end of 2007, but there have been delays in construction.

The hospital’s congested maternity ward, with limited staff and space, will have a better working environment once the new hospital is opened with a larger maternity ward with more staff and better technical facilities. This was funded in part by the government of Japan.

The Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) is one of two main medical education centers in Bhutan, the other being the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. The RIHS was established in Thimpu in 1974 as a member college of the Royal University of Bhutan, and is associated with the Thimpu Referral Hospital. The RIHS offers diploma and certificate programmes for nurses, medical technicians and other primary health care workers.

A medical college is planned to provide training for doctors at the hospital, assisted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The college will offer MBBS courses, and have an intake capacity of not more than 50 students. About 20 subject departments will be needed. Bhutan does not yet have anatomy, physiology and biochemistry departments. The health ministry is working on the process of linking post graduate programmes for the students and to ensure that the medical college is widely recognized. Health officials said that the government should also look at remuneration and incentives to attract more doctors and specialists to take up the extra work of teaching and practising medicine.

Patients from rural areas seeking treatment often have trouble finding an affordable place to stay. The JDWNRH Welfare Home was established by Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuk to provide free shelter for poor patients from distant places. The home accommodates an average of 30 patients daily. It is supported by the Bhutan Foundation, which provides beds, linens, curtains, basic furniture, and hot water facilities.

The Memorial Chorten, Thimphu, Bhutan

The Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten, is a chorten in Thimphu, Bhutan, located on Doeboom Lam in the southern-central part of the city near the main roundabout and Indian military hospital. The chorten, built in 1974 to honour the 3rd King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–1972), is a prominent landmark in the city with its golden spires and bells. In 2008, it underwent extensive renovation. It is popularly known as "the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan". It was consecrated by Dudjom Rinpoche.

This chorten is unlike other chortens as it does not enshrine the mortal remains of the King. Only the King’s photo in a ceremonial dress adorns a hall in the ground floor. The King when he was alive wanted to build "a chorten to represent the mind of the Buddha".

The Memorial Chorten of Thimphu was conceived by Dungse Rinpoche (1904–1987), according to the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. It was erected in 1974 in memory of the 3rd king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who had died in 1972. It was built by the King’s mother, Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck .

The architecture of the chorten has been designed to present it as “one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu”. The Memorial Chorten, in the heart of the city, is designed is a Tibetan style chorten, also called as the Jangchup Chorten, patterned on the design of a classical stupa, with a pyramidal pillar crowned by a crescent moon and sun. The feature that is distinct here is the outward flaring of the rounded part to give the shape of a vase (a pyramidal shape), unlike a dome shape. The chorten depicts larger than life size images of tantric deities (wrathful deities with their female consorts), in large numbers, and many in embarrassing (to the visitors) explicit sexual poses (one count puts the number of such images at 36).

The chorten is a large white structure with a golden spire crowning it and a smaller golden spire above the front porch. It is approached through a small garden and a gate decorated with three slate carvings. On the exterior of the gate are representations of the three protective Bodhisattvas – Avalokiteshvara (the symbol of compassion), Manjushri (the symbol of knowledge) and Vajrapani, the symbol of power. On the interior are slates engraved with the image of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the historical Buddha and Guru Rinpoche. Large prayer wheels are located to the left. The chorten attracts many elderly Bhutanese on a daily basis who circumambulate the chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and pray at the shrine. It has four entrances but only one entrance is open for devotees to visit the shrine.

The chorten is decorated with richly carved annexes facing the four directions, and contain mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the third king. The ground floor of the chorten is consecrated to the teachings of the deity Phurpha. It has four shrines, each with different pictures of the king; with the eastern shrine housing a Buddha image. From the ground floor, a staircase leads to two more floors and each floor has four shrines. A centrally placed large wooden carving covers all three levels, behind the shrines; a large number of wooden carvings mostly depict wrathful looking protective deities. The roof of chorten is accessed from the second level and a protective railing covers the terrace on the third floor. The second floor is dedicated to Kagyu teachings, to subdue eight varieties of evil spirits and the top floor is dedicated to the teachings of Lama Gondu. Combined, these three floors form the esoteric teachings of the Nyingmapa sect. All of the texts were once hidden by Guru Rinpoche and were rediscovered by tertons in the 19th, 12th and 14th centuries respectively. The top floor has paintings depicting various deities of the Nyingmapa School, and visions which appear in the bardo. Above the top floor there is a gallery, which can be walked around the circumference of the chorten and which offers spectacular views of the city.

The Chorten, held in great religious fervour, is circumambulated only in a clockwise direction (reciting prayers and whirling the large red prayer wheels), as is the rule for any religious structures in Bhutan. "Moelam Chenmo," or the Great Prayer Festival is held here when the Je Khenpo (the religious head of Bhutan) addresses and blesses those who congregate for the occasion.

Motithang Takin Preserve

Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin, the National Animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. The reason for declaring takin as a National Animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 (Budorcas taxicolor) is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley.

The local mythology related to declaring takin as the National Animal of Bhutan is dated to the 15th century. A Tibetan saint by the name Drukpa Kunley, popularly called by the epithet “The Divine Madman” is credited with creating the tamin with unique features. Drukpa Kunley, who was not only a religious preacher but also a proficient tantric, was requested by the people of Bhutan during one of his religious lectures to conjure a miracle before them. The saint agreed to do so provided he was fed for lunch, a whole cow and a whole goat. Once served, he devoured the food of both animals and left out the bones. He then took out the head of the goat and fixed it to the skeleton of the cow and uttered abracadabra and the magic worked. With a snap, he created a live animal, which had the head of the goat and the body of the cow. The animal sprang up and moved on to the meadows to graze. The animal was then given the name dong gyem tsey (takin). Since then this animal has been a common sight in the hills of Bhutan. Because of this magical creation with high religious connotation, the animal has been adopted as the National Animal of Bhutan.

When a small number of Takin were confined in a "mini-zoo" in Thimphu, the King of Bhutan felt that it was improper for a Buddhist country to confine animals for religious and environmental reasons. He therefore ordered the release of the animals and the closure of the mini-zoo. To everyone’s surprise, the Takin, known for their docile behavior, refused to leave the immediate area, and strayed in the streets of Thimphu in search of food for weeks.

Given that the animals had become virtually domesticated, it was decided to keep them in an enclosed, forested habitat at the edge of Thimphu and thus the Takin Preserve came to be established in the Motithang neighborhood. An area of 3.4 hectares (8.4 acres) was demarcated and fenced for the preserve. Improvements were implemented in 2004, a collaborative effort of the Royal Government of Bhutan and World Wide Fund, WWF (Bhutan), including a traditionally-styled entrance gate, a small information center, signage and trash receptacles. Small openings in the fencing allow photo opportunities (intended) along unregulated hand-feeding (unintended). As a result, most of the captive animals in the enclosure are obese. The preserve also holds a few sambar and barking deer. The Motithang Takin Reserve has been an integral part of Thimphu city and is an ongoing visitor attraction. NCD plans to expand the collection of the preserve by introducing other rarely-seen animals of Bhutan such as the Red Panda, and the Himalayan Serow.

Takin attract attention due to their unusual appearance; taxonomists are were originally uncertain of this animal's phylogeny and many people describe it as a “bee-stung moose”. Bhutan Takin (Budorcas taxicolor whitei) is listed as a vulnerable species of goat-antelope, native to Bhutan, India, the People's Republic of China and Tibet.

Its habitat is alpine meadows during the summer season, above an altitude of 3,700 metres (12,100 ft), where they feed primarily on grasses. During the summer monsoon season, the lower elevation forests are inhospitable for takin due to the abundance of leeches, mosquitoes, and horseflies. Alpine meadows provide rich grazing for takin and as a result some males have been reported to weigh as much as a tonne. Courtship and mating occur in July and August. After a gestation period of about 8 months, a single calf is born, usually in late February or March. Adult takin have a golden yellow and brownish coat; calves are initially black in colour. As the rainy season tapers, the animals move down to elevations of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) and 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) to browse during the winter season on temperate vegetation of broad leaf forests.

Takin have little economic value; they provide a traditional medicinal use by women to help them during child birth and are of keen interest to a relatively small but uncertain number of trekkers annually in Bhutan.

Genetic health of the animals in the Takin Preserve is believed to be on the decline due to inbreeding, according to the Nature Conservation Division (NCD) of the Ministry of Agriculture of Bhutan (NCD). The NCD is planning to introduce fresh genes of one male and two female takin from the wild. Wild populations of Takin are believed to be stable, though there are no published studies to confirm this, and no one knows how climate change will affect the population of this species in Bhutan. The only known threats they face are from predators and very occasional poaching.

A Takin (The Bhutanese National Animal) in Takin Preserve, Thimphu, Bhutan

The takin (/ˈtɑːkɪn/; Budorcas taxicolor; Tibetan: ར་རྒྱ་, Wylie: ra rgya), also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. The four subspecies are: B. taxicolor taxicolor, the Mishmi Takin; B. taxicolor bedfordi, the Shaanxi or golden takin; B. t. tibetana, the Tibetan or Sichuan takin; and B. t. whitei, the Bhutan takin. Mitochondrial research shows the takin are related to sheep; its similarity to the muskox is an example of convergent evolution. The takin is the national animal of Bhutan.

The takin rivals the muskox as the largest and stockiest of the subfamily Caprinae, which includes all goats, sheep and similar species. Short legs are supported on large, two-toed hooves, which have a highly developed spur. The body is stocky and the chest is deep. The large head is made more distinctive by the long, arched nose, and stout horns that are ridged at the base and can reach 64 cm (25 in) in length. Both sexes have small horns which run parallel to the skull and then turn upwards in a short point, these are around 30 cm (12 in) long. The long, shaggy coat is light in color, with a dark stripe along the back, and males (bulls) also have dark faces. Four subspecies of takin are currently recognised, and these tend to show a variation in coat color. Their thick wool often turns black in color on their undersides and legs. The overall coloration ranges from dark blackish to reddish-brown suffused with grayish-yellow in the eastern Himalayas to lighter yellow-gray in the Sichuan Province to mostly golden or (rarely) creamy-white with fewer black hairs in the Shaanxi Province. The legend of the 'golden fleece', searched for by Jason and the Argonauts, may have been inspired by the lustrous coat of the golden takin (B. t. bedfordi). The hairs of the species can range from 3 cm (1.2 in), on the flanks of the body in summer, up to 24 cm (9.4 in), on the underside of the head in winter.

Takin stand 97 to 140 cm (38 to 55 in) at the shoulder and measure a relatively short 160–220 cm (63–87 in) in head-and-body length. The tail adds only a further 12 to 21.6 cm (4.7 to 8.5 in). Weights reported are somewhat variable, but the species is quite heavy. According to most reports, the males are slightly larger, reportedly weighing 300–350 kg (660–770 lb) against 250–300 kg (550–660 lb) in females. However, per Betham (1908), females are larger, with the largest captive takin known to the author, at 322 kg (710 lb), having been female. Other sources report the takin can weigh up to 400 kg (880 lb) or 600 kg (1,300 lb) in some cases.

Rather than localised scent glands, the takin has an oily, strong-smelling substance secreted over the whole body. This is likely the reason for the swollen appearance of the face. Due to this feature, biologist George Schaller likened the takin to a "bee-stung moose",. Their combination of features has also earned them the nicknames "cattle chamois" and "gnu goat".

Takin are found from forested valleys to rocky, grass-covered alpine zones, at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 m above sea level. The Mishmi takin occurs in eastern Arunachal Pradesh, while the Bhutan takin is in western Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. Dihang-Dibang Biosphere Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is a stronghold of both Mishmi, Upper Siang (Kopu) and Bhutan takins. A captive population exists and is managed by the studbook held at Minnesota Zoo in the United States.

Takin are found in small family groups of around 20 individuals, although older males may lead more solitary existences. In the summer months, herds of up to 300 individuals gather high on the mountain slopes. Groups often appear to occur in largest numbers when favorable feeding sites, salt licks, or hot springs are located. Mating takes place between July and August. Adult males compete for dominance by sparring head-to-head with opponents, and both sexes appear to use the scent of their own urine to indicate dominance. A single young is born after a gestation period of around eight months. Takin migrate from the upper pasture to lower, more forested areas in winter and favor sunny spots upon sunrise. When disturbed, individuals will give a 'cough' alarm call and the herd will retreat into thick bamboo thickets and lie on the ground for camouflage.

Takin feed in the early morning and late afternoon, grazing on a variety of leaves and grasses, as well as bamboo shoots and flowers. They have been observed standing on their hind legs to feed on leaves over 3.1 m (10 ft) high. Salt is also an important part of their diets, and groups may stay at a mineral deposit for several days.

They overlap in range with multiple potential natural predators, including the Asiatic black bear and the leopard, and (more seldomly) tigers, gray wolves, and dholes. Anecdotally, both bears and wolves have been reported to prey on takin when they can, which is likely given the opportunistic nature of those predators. However, the only confirmed natural predator of takin is the snow leopard, although mature adults may be exempted from regular predation (due to their size) from that predator. The main predator of takin are humans, who hunt them usually for meat (considered delicious by local people), though secondarily for their pelts. Humans have long since exploited takin's fondness for salt licks, where they are easily cornered and killed. Takins are likely still occasionally killed.

Largely due to overhunting and the destruction of their natural habitat, the takin is considered Endangered in China and Vulnerable per the IUCN. Though they are not a common species naturally, their numbers appear to have been reduced considerably.

The Bhutan National Textile Museum, Thimphu, Bhutan

The Bhutan Textile Museum or the National Textile Museum is a national textiles museum in Thimphu, Bhutan, located near the National Library of Bhutan. It is operated by the National Commission for Cultural Affairs. Since its establishment in 2001, the museum has generated national and international attention and has garnered a substantial collection of antique textile artefacts, exclusive to Bhutan.

The objective of setting up the museum is to promote Bhutan's achievements in the field of textile arts and to sustain and promote interest of the weavers to continue the traditional textile patterns. The museum also envisions to become the centre for textile studies and research. The purpose is also to promote the history and culture of Bhutan.

The significance of Bhutan's textiles is attributed to many factors such as: its intricate patterns in textile art (unique in the world), skills and methods adopted in their creation, noteworthy role in religious, official and social events represented by "glyphs and symbols of ancient knowledge" and their deep sacred connotation.

The Bhutan Textile Museum was first conceived by Her Majesty, the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck. It was established in 2001 and inaugurated by the Queen. Danish funding to the tune of US $165,000 enabled development of the infrastructure of the museum. Government of Bhutan and private donors have also provided assistance to set up the museum and the technical support of the Peabody Essex Museum in the United States. Wangchuck serves as the patron of the museum and has enhanced national and international interest in the Bhutanese textile industry.

The museum is divided into six areas of special focus, including Achievements in textile arts, the role of textiles in religion, textiles from indigenous fibres, The Royal Collection, warp pattern weaves, and weft pattern weaves. The Royal Collection of the museum has an invaluable collection of Bhutanese antique textile artefacts of Bhutan, including crowns of Bhutan's kings, Namzas (dresses) and other accessories worn by the Royal Family, a pearl robe from Tsamdrak Goenpa and the bedding of His Holiness Shabdrung Jigme Dorji.

Some of the unique collections donated by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, and some private individuals on display in the museum are: the first version of the Raven crown, brocade uzhams(crowns) worn by the first king, and the second king, and a princess crown worn by the sister of the first king, Ashi Wangmo.

The ground floor of the Textile Museum has displays demonstrating the skills of spinning, colouring fibres, preparing a loom, and manipulating two sets of yarns. Decorative fabrics and textile arts and crafts are categorically displayed in the galleries situated on the first floor of the Textile Museum. There are displays showing the traditional regional garments produced by women and men in Bhutan, and those garments used for special religious occasions.

The museum organizes design competitions to display the best textiles. A novel method adopted for this competition is the selection process of public polling. In this procedure, the each textile proposed in the competition is tagged with a number. Visitors to the museum vote "for the best piece" of art based on the number of the art piece displayed. The name of the artist is not shown. Besides pesar, the traditional art form, innovative other textile designs in appliqué and embroidery have also been proposed for future competitions. The museum also has plans to host a textile festival which will be celebrated during the competition.

To sustain the interest of the weavers, sellers and artists, an auction process through bidding for the textiles "under consideration" has been introduced. In this process, the base price for the item on sale is fixed by the weaver and any bid amount received over and above the weaver's base price enriches the coffers of the museum. This procedure is adopted to ensure quality products of textiles to be woven by the weavers displaying intricate and appealing designs. The museum has also engaged two permanent weavers – one for pangtha (spinning) and another for thuetha (colouring) – to display the process of weaving. A small group of loom weavers at the museum produce work deriving from Lhuentse Dzongkhag, the ancestral home of the Bhutanese Royal Family in northeastern Bhutan.

Royal Academy of Performing Arts in Thimphu

The Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) is a Bhutanese government body within the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Department of Culture that supports the preservation of traditional Bhutanese culture. It was founded in 1954 under the initiative of the Third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. In 1967, it was institutionalised as an academy and the Royal Dance troupe was its creation. The Academy is located in Thimphu, along Chhophel Lam.

The Academy trains young dancers and musicians in both religious and secular folk music and dance. The Academy also documents and performs live songs and dances from Bhutan's many diverse regions – from modern rigsar to centuries-old genres – and publishes its collections.

The professional dancers of the Academy hold performances during the annual Thimphu Tsechu dance festival held at Tashichho Dzong. Throughout the year, its members give one-hour performances for guests and tour groups on request. The Academy also hosts public dance practices ahead of major events, such as the 2011 royal wedding, and performs abroad.

Leaders of the Academy further participate in international private nonprofit organizations promoting and preserving traditional Bhutanese music and culture.

The Royal Institute of Health Sciences, Thimphu, Bhutan

The Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) is one of two main medical education centers in Bhutan, the other being the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services. The RIHS was established in Thimphu in 1974 as a member college of the Royal University of Bhutan, and is associated with the National Referral Hospital. The RIHS offers diploma and certificate programmes for nurses, medical technicians and other primary health care workers. The institute received the World Health Organization's 50th Anniversary Award for Primary Health Care in 1998. Health infrastructure is improving in Bhutan and there is growing number of trained human resources, but the country still had only 2 doctors per 10,000 population in 2005. The RIHS cannot train doctors, so Bhutan must send candidates to neighboring countries such as Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka for their MBBS course.

The institute trains auxiliary nurse midwives, general nurse midwives and assistant nurses. A joint initiative between La Trobe University, the World Health Organization and the Royal Government of Bhutan gives Bhutanese qualified nurses the opportunity to obtain a bachelor degree. Students who successfully complete this program are eligible to apply for postgraduate studies in Australia.

The RIHS conducts a two-year Pharmacy Technician Course, teaching students pharmacy and pharmacology, with basic introductions to physiology, anatomy, health education, first aid etc. Other health work trainees are also taught pharmacology and pharmacy on similar lines.

The RIHS offers a program in Physiotherapy, following which the students work for a few more months in the general referral hospital, and are then sent out to provide services in various districts across the country.

The institute also trains health assistants, basic health workers, and technicians of various other disciplines such as laboratory, dental, x-ray, ophthalmology and operation theater.

The Royal Thimphu Golf Course

The Royal Thimphu Golf Club is the only golf course in Bhutan that is open to the public. Set in a valley amongst the peaks of the Himalayas this course is located just outside the capital of Bhutan - Thimpu. It is located alongside & above the Trashi Chhoe Dzong (the palace & office of the King & effectively the seat of the government). This is a 9 hole, Par 35 course & can be played as a18 hole, 5851 yard, Par 70 course from 2 different sets of tees.

Situated at an altitude of over 7700 feet the ball does travel a good 8 % longer here but the heavy rough & mature tree cover compensate for that. A judicious use of water hazards & bunkering combined with fabulous views of the himalayas with awesome vistas of tall towering peaks & low hanging clouds complete the picture. Do not be fooled into thinking this course is a walk in the park.

The course has its origins in the late 60′s when Brig General TV Jaganathan (from India) who was posted in Bhutan between 1968 and 1973 requested & got permission from King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to construct a few holes. The course was then expanded to 9 holes. The course was opened in 1971 as the Royal Thimphu Golf Club.

Royal University of Bhutan, Thimphu

The Royal University of Bhutan (Dzongkha: འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་འཛིན་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་སྡེ་; Wylie: 'brug rgyal-'dzin gtsug-lag-slob-sde), founded on June 2, 2003 by a royal decree is the national university system of Bhutan.

The Royal University of Bhutan was established to consolidate the management of tertiary education in Bhutan. It is a decentralized university with eleven constituent colleges spread across the kingdom. The underlying principle which influenced the development of a university system was the government's priority for equitable development. The eleven member colleges are:
The College of Science and Technology (CST) in Rinchhending, Phuntsholing
The Gaeddu College of Business Studies (GCBS) in Gedu, Chukha
The National Institute of Traditional Medicine (NITM) in Thimphu
The Institute of Language and Culture Studies (ILCS) in Semtokha, Thimphu. The institute is slated to expand to 500+ students and move to Taktse in Trongsa dzongkhag. A primary task of ILCS is to preserve and promote Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan.
Sherubtse College in Kanglung, Trashigang
The Paro College of Education (PCE) in Paro
The Samtse College of Education (SCE) in Samtse
The Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS) in Thimphu
The College of Natural Resources (CNR) in Lobesa, Thimphu
The Jigme Namgyel Polytechnic (JNP) in Dewathang, Samdrup Jongkhar
The Royal Institute of Management (RIM) in Simtokha, Thimphu

The Royal University of Bhutan maintains a strong connection with other universities which include the University of New Brunswick in Canada, the School for International Training in the United States, the University of Salzburg in Austria, the University of Delhi in India, etc. in the areas of student exchange and internship programs for students and faculty.

HM Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan, is the chancellor. Dasho Pema Thinley is the vice chancellor and handles the day-to-day administration of the university system.

The Centre for Bhutan Studies (CBS) in Thimphu, originally slated to become a member institution of the university, has retained its autonomous status.

Based on the distributed model with different campuses of the colleges forming the core element of the University, the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at the center is responsible for central coordination while the constituent member colleges look after academic functions of teaching and research within its college. Located at Mothithang, Thimphu, the Office of the Vice Chancellor consists of the departments of Registry, Academic Affairs, Planning and Resources, and Research and External Relations.

The Royal University of Bhutan aspires to be a seat of excellence in learning that advances knowledge, improves quality of life and promotes collective happiness. The twofold objective of the University as stated in the Royal Charter (RUB 2003, p. 3) is to develop and provide programmes of study at tertiary education level, of relevance and good quality which will fulfill the needs of the country for an educated and skilled population; and to promote and conduct research, to contribute to the creation of knowledge in an international context and to promote the transfer of knowledge of relevance to Bhutan.

The Royal University of Bhutan commits to the core values of compassion and fairness, creativity and innovation, community services, love for learning, accountability, responsibility, and professionalism.

The Degree programme is intended to provide grounding in some coherent body of knowledge, a broad coverage of the related academic skill, personal development, social skills and literacy. The Degree programme consists of 360 credits, out of which at least 90 shall be at third year level. The degree programme usually takes over three years of full time study, or more, if it consists of more than 360 credits.

The Honours degree will supplement and develop the subject matter learnt from the Degree to a higher level. It includes a significant project, emphasizes students’ self study and prepares the students for postgraduate study. The Honours degree consists of 480 credits, out of which at least 90 credits are at fourth year level. The Honours degree will usually take over four years of full time study, with the inclusion of the Degree programme of 360 credits included.

Values such as creativity and innovation, compassion and fairness, community service, love for learning, accountability, responsibility and professionalism are central to the academic programmes at the University. Students across the colleges have ample opportunities to partake in numerous range of activities, from regular study of their programmes, community service to a range of extracurricular activities.

Simtokha Dzong, Thimphu, Bhutan

Simtokha Dzong is a small dzong, located about 3 miles south of the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. Built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan, the dzong is the first of its kind built in Bhutan. An important historical monument and former Buddhist monastery, today it houses one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes. It recently underwent renovation.

Taj Tashi Hotel, Chubachu, Thimphu, Bhutan

Chubachu is the central district of Thimphu, Bhutan. It is bounded by the Chubachu River to the north, the Wang Chu River to the east and Changangkha and Motithang to the west. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has its Bhutanese headquarters here; it has been responsible for facilitating tiger conservation in Bhutan. A weekend market is held on the western bank of the Wang Chu. To the west lies the Norzin Lam road which divides Chubachu from Motithang. This road contains the Bhutan Textile Museum and the National Library of Bhutan. The central road of the district is called Yanden Lam. The eastern road of the district is Chogyal Lam which runs Northwest-southeast along the banks of the Wang Chu.

Tango Monastery near Thimphu, Bhutan

The Tango Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) to the north of the capital city of Thimphu in Bhutan, near Cheri Mountain. It was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 13th century and built in its present form by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal Ruler in 1688. In 1616, the Tibetan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, meditated in its cave. The self-emanated form of the wrathful Hayagriva is deified in the monastery. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan.

The word 'Tango' in Bhutanese language means “horse head”. This name conforms to the main deity Hayagriva (local name Tandin) deified in the monastery.

According to local legend, the location of this monastery is the holy place where Avalokiteshvara revealed himself as "the self-emanated form of the Wrathful Hayagriva". The location had been prophesised in Tibet.

According to a local legend Phajo Drugom Zhigpo propounder of the teachings of Dodeyna who was on a visit to this place during his teaching mission heard the neighing of a horse coming from the direction of the Tango. Concurrently, he witnessed the cliff in the form of god Tandin (horse head or Hayagriva) engulfed in flames. The deity appearing before Zhigpo prophesised that the place was meant to build a monastery for meditation. The prophesy also mentioned that Zhigpo would marry the Dakini, Khando Sonam Peldon and establish the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan. The earliest history traced to this location is when Guru Rinpoche on a visit to the place in the 8th century had identified the place as representing the Hayagriva or horse head. It was only in 1222 that the place again got its recognition when Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, propounder of the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism, witnessed the cliff in the form of god Tandin (horse head) or Hayagriva.

Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal migrated from Tibet to Bhutan in 1616 at the age of 23 not only at the request of Pal Yeshay Genpo but also due to a conflict with Deb Tsangpa of Tibet; Namgyel belonged to a respectable lineage of Tsangpa Jarey in Tibet and had been christened by the name of Drukpa Rinpochhe Ngawang Tenzin Nampar Gyelwa Jigme Drak Pai Dey and had attained name and fame from an young age as an enlightened dharma preacher. When he travelled in Bhutan on a preaching mission he was also attacked by Tibetan army (sent by his enemy Deb Tsangpa). However, by virtue of his skills in the field of tantric art he subdued his enemies, and finally went into meditation in the caves of the Tango Monastery; the monastery had been offered to him by the Tshewang Tenzing of Dorden (now Dodena). He deeply meditated and performed tantric ritual of Gempo in the cave of Tango. With these spiritual powers, Zhabdrung caused the decimation of the dynasty of Deb Tsangpa of Tibet. Consequently, he celebrated this victory by writing of his achievements by composing the “Nga Chudugma or My sixteen Accomplishments”.

Following his victory, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal adopted the title of Dujom Dorjee, consolidated his powers and issued sixteen tenets. He renamed the cave monastery as Duduel Phug and then went back to the cave for further meditation. However, the cave was attacked by his enemies using tantric powers. They had destroyed the cliff of the caves, which resulted in blocking of the cave by a huge boulder (size of a yak), which by providence narrowly missed killing the Namgyal, as it is said “the boulder missed Zamdrung’s head by an inch”. His followers considered Zamdrung’s survival as a miracle. During this period Namgyals’ father Tenpai Nima had died and Namgyal brought his father’s body to the cave and cremated it in the cave of the horse head cliff, in Tango. Thereafter, in 1620, Namgyal built the Chari monastery and the Duduel Chorten in memory of his father; the building was constructed by skilled carpenters brought from Nepal.

Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye son of Tshewang Tenzin and Damchoe Tenzima (daughter of the Lama of Chang Gangkha) born in 1638 AD, received religious instructions from a very young age in the Drukpa Kargyud tradition from Shabdrung and his teacher Damchoe Gyeltshe and was very proficient in the tradition when he ascended the throne of Desi at the age of 31. He also became the 4th Desi at the age of 43. As the 4th Temporal Ruler he creditably ruled the country in accordance with set spiritual and temporal laws. The Tango Monastery was rebuilt by him in its present form in 1688/1689. The monastery built with 12 corners has the 3-storey gallery central tower. It was further extended in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the late 19th century, Shabdrung Jigmre Choegyal had a golden roof installed. In 1966 AD, the 64th rJe Khenpo Jamyang Yeshey Sengyel along with Her Royal Highness the Grandmother Ashi Phuntshog Chodon also restarted the Shaydra School of Buddhist Studies). In 1977 AD, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Wangchuck refurbished the monastery into a very elegant structure vis-a-vis the original. The monastery underwent restoration again in the mid 1990s and is currently the residence of the 7th Tri Rinpoche, a young incarnation of Tenzin Rabgye. Today it is run as an upper-education level monastic school.

Tango Monastery is built in the dzong fashion, and has a characteristic curved (semi-circular) outside wall and prominent main tower with recesses. It covers the caves where originally meditation and miracles were performed by saints from the 12th century onwards. Behind the series of prayer wheels are engraved slates. Inside the courtyard is a gallery, illustrating the leaders of the Drukpa Kagyupa lineage.

The caves, the original place, before the monastery structure as it exists now was built, is where the holy saints meditated from the 12th century onwards. The rock face identified as the 'Horse head' or 'Hayagriva' is integral to the rock setting of the caves. The caves are formed at two levels – the lower and upper caves with a self formed secret central passage. The central cavern is proclaimed as the “cavern of a dakini containing triangular red and black colours and a natural divine mansion”.

The rock faces at different levels exhibit self-manifest figures of the sun, the moon and of the demon Matramrutra. Other self emanated divine forms identified within the caves consist of: the Pal-khorlo-dompa (Sri Cakrasambhara gods seen even now); a long cavernous passage in the basement that makes a distinction between the good and the evil while manoeuvring through it; the projecting rock face in the form of Hayagriva directly facing the valley denoting Abhicarya in ferocious shapes; a temple of Hayagriva at the lower level; crystal images of tutelary deities; a three-faced Hayagriva (discovered by Ngawang Tenzin); a whip containing combined prayers; a stone slab with foot print of a dakini (the youngest daughter of Ngawang Tenzin); a temple of the four handed Mahakala at the upper cave created by the Shabdrung, a hazardous cave at the bottom – a fit place for hermits; and a large sandalwood tree, considered as walking stick that was planted by Phajo Drukgom with the prophesy that "This will be the centre from which the Drukpa Kargyud doctrine will spread". There is chorten near the cypress trees where Khando Sonam Peldon died. All her belongings are enshrined in the chorten. A Tandin Nye, a temple built by Phajo after his meditation. is also located here.

The 12-cornered monastery was built under the direction of the Gyalse Tenzin Rabgyein in a short span of two months. Basically the monastery has six temples namely, the Trulku lhakhang, the Longku lhakhang, the Choeku lhakhang, the Guru lhakhang, the Namsey Lhakhang and the Gonkhang (inner chapel dedicated to a deity).

On the ground floor in the Tulku lhakhang, is the temple of Trulku where the main deity is of Buddha made in gold and copper. Buddha statue is thrice the height of a man. The sculptor of this statue was the renowned Panchen Deva of Nepal. Flanking the main deity are a clay Buddha Dipankara cast in medicinal metals and a statue of Maitreya (double the height of a man). Life-size statues of the 8 chief spiritual sons of the Buddha (the Jang Sem Nye Wai Say Chen Gyad (Jamyang), Chador, Chenrizig (Avaloketeshvara), Namkhai Nyingpo (Akashagarba), Dripa Namsel, Saye Nyingpo, Jamba and Jampel Zhenu Jurpa) are also located here. These statues are credited to be the work of craftsmen Trulku Dzing and Druk Chophel. Other objects of veneration in the monastery are a stone with a clear footprint of Jetsuen Tenzinma, daughter of Ngawang Tenzin, and also stone impressions of riding horses, goats, and sheep. A golden key discovered by Ngawang Tenzin, in the shape of a horse-head is much revered. Another adjoining temple, the Gonkhang, is dedicated to the four handed Mahakala (Pel Yeshey Gonpo, the protective deity) temple holding a skull in one hand; the skull is said to be that of the Tibetan King Thrisong Detsan."

On the second floor, the statue of Avalokiteshvara – the Buddha of compassion – made (by Panchen Deva of Nepal) of gold and copper is installed in the Longku lhakhang. Also seen on this floor are the temple of Guru Rinpoche and the Namse palace. There is also the Namsey lhakhang where the statue of Namsey (Vaisravana – the god of wealth) is deified.

On the third floor, there are temples of Dharmakaya and a gold and copper statue of Buddha Amitayus (made by Panchen Deva). Buddha image is flanked by a statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and a life-size clay figure, made with medicinal metals, of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. The bedroom of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye is located to the right of the temples. Central to this room is an image of Guru Rinpoche (who appeared in Tenzin Rabgye's vision). Other object seen here includes the Kargyud Serthreng. Other images are made with medicinal metals and all images here are credited to Trulku Dzing, the sculptor. A set of paintings seen on the walls here are weeping images. The depiction of weeping is an expression of sorrow at the demise of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, at the age of 59 years. There is also self-made image of Trulku Jampel Yamtsho. Wall paintings are seen on all the three floors of the monastery.

There is a natural fountain in the middle of the courtyard opposite to the central tower. A chaitya known as Jangchub Chorten or Kudung Chorten, built with the ashes of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye is located between the Dzong and the monastery.

The Yarney ('Yar' means “Summer” and 'Ney' means “To stay”) represents monks' summer retreat time and is an important annual festival that is held in this monastery. Initiated since 1967, the festival starts from the 15th day of the 6th month of the Bhutanese calendar and concludes on the 30th day of the 7th month, which corresponds to the month of August/September in the Gregorian calendar. During this period, which lasts for one-and-a-half-months, the monks observe special vows and the strictest monastic disciplines. The observances by the monks are in the form of their wearing ceremonial yellow robes, do elaborate chants of prayers before and after eating (eating meals from begging bowls), desist taking the afternoon meal, do not leave the precincts of the monastery, and not involve in any kind of entertainment on holidays; such observances are deemed to accumulate great merits. During this period, common people make food offerings to the monks.

Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu, Bhutan

Tashichhoedzong བཀྲ་ཤིས་ཆོས་རྫོང is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu in Bhutan, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi (or "Dharma Raja"), the head of Bhutan's civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907, and summer capital of the country.

"It was built by the first Dharma Raja, who also founded the Lho-drukpa sect of Buddhism, which has remained the distinctive sect of Bhutan. The correct transliteration of the vernacular name—Bkrashis-chhos-rdzong, meaning "the fortress of auspicious doctrine"—is, according to Dr. Graham Sandberg, Tashichhoidzong...."

The main structure of the whitewashed building is two-storied with three-storied towers at each of the four corners topped by triple-tiered golden roofs. There is also a large central tower or utse.

The original Thimphu dzong (the Dho-Ngyen Dzong, or Blue Stone Dzong) was built in 1216 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa where Dechen Phodrang now stands above Thimphu. Soon after, Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, who first brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took it over.

In 1641 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal acquired it from Lama Phajo's descendants, but soon finding it too small, he built another one, known as the lower Dzong for the administration, keeping the older one for the monks. The original dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and everything was moved to the lower one which was expanded then, and again by the 13th Druk Desi (1744-1763), and also in 1866. It was damaged during an earthquake in 1897 and rebuilt in 1902. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated and enlarged over five years after he moved the capital to Thimpu in 1952 in traditional style using neither nails nor written plans.

It has been the seat of Bhutan's government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby. West of the dzong is a small tower of Ney Khang Lhakhang which houses a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha and protective deities. In 1953 the royal family took up residence in the newly built Dechencholing Palace.

The National Assembly of Bhutan,Thimphu

The National Assembly is the elected lower house of Bhutan's new bicameral Parliament which also comprises the Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) and the National Council. It is the more powerful house.

The current National Assembly has 47 members, who were elected in the first ever general elections on March 24, 2008. Jigme Thinley's Druk Phuensum Tshogpa Party won a landslide victory, securing 45 seats. The People's Democratic Party won the other two, but its leader Sangay Ngedup lost the election in his constituency.

Under the 2008 Constitution, the National Assembly consists of a maximum of 55 members directly elected by the citizens of constituencies within each Dzongkhag (District). (Art. 12) Under this single-winner voting system, each constituency is represented by a single National Assembly member; each of the 20 Dzongkhags must be represented by between 2–7 members. Constituencies are reapportioned every 10 years. (Art. 12, §§ 1–2) The National Assembly meets at least twice a year, and elects a Speaker and Deputy Speaker from among its members. Members and candidates are allowed to hold political party affiliation.

The National Assembly was originally decreed in 1953 by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The National Assembly began as a unicameral parliament within the King's framework for democratization. In 1971, King Jigme Dorji empowered the National Assembly to remove him or any of his successors with a two-thirds majority. The procedure for abdication remains a part of Bhutan's Constitution of 2008, with the addition of a three-fourth majority in a joint sitting of Parliament (i.e., including the National Council) to confirm the involuntary abdication as well as a national referendum to finalize it.

The National Library of Bhutan, Thimphu

The National Library of Bhutan (NLB) (Dzongkha: Druk Gyelyong Pedzö འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཡོངས་དཔེ་མཛོད།), Thimphu, Bhutan was established in 1967 for the purpose of "preservation and promotion of the rich cultural and religious heritage" of Bhutan. It is located in the Kawajangtsa area of Thimphu, above the Royal Thimphu Golf Course, near the Bhutan Folk Heritage Museum and The National Institute for Zorig Chusum (Traditional Arts and Crafts).

The National Library of Bhutan was first established in 1967 under the patronage of HM Queen Ashi Phuntso Choden (1911–2003), with a small collection of precious texts. The library was initially housed within the central tower (utse) of Tashichodzong. Later, due to its growing collection, it had to move to a building in the Changgangkha area of Thimphu.

To provide a permanent home for the sacred religious books and manuscripts in the growing collection, construction of the present four-storeyed eight-cornered traditional building, which looks like the central tower temple of a Bhutanese Dzong, in the Kawajangtsa area of Thimphu was initiated. The cost of the construction of this building was borne entirely by the Royal Government of Bhutan without any foreign aid.

This building, which houses the collection of traditional texts, was inaugurated and consecrated as a temple by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche on November 23, 1984 in order to provide a sacred space for the religious books which form the bulk of the collection. The library moved into its permanent home at the end of 1984 under the auspices of the then Special Commission for Cultural Affairs.

The National Archives is responsible for collecting and preserving important past, present and future documents on Bhutan for future generations.

In July 2000 Denmark signed an agreement to support the National Archives to provide assistance for the construction of a modern archive building. This two storied building, which was completed in 2004 is equipped with a modern security and fire alarm system as well as temperature and humidity control.

The repository rooms of the archives now house many important documents including old records, old letters and around seven thousand important photographs. The archives also hold microfilms of many other important documents. Particularly rare and important books and manuscripts from the National Library collection are also kept in their secure and controlled facilities. Thus the archives is the foundation of our National Memory Bank.

The National Archives solicits co-operation from all concerned in its effort to create our National Memory Bank. We therefore request individuals and institutions, inside and outside the country holding important documents and other material related to Bhutan which may be of interest to future generations, to provide copies for our National Archives.

The National Library offers a free microfilming service for institutions and individuals within Bhutan holding important and rare texts and documents. They actively encourage anyone holding such documents to bring them to the library for microfilming in order to ensure the long term preservation of the contents of these documents should anything happen to the original. Upon microfilming the original text or document will be returned to the provider along with one microfilm copy, and one copy will be held in the archives in safe and secure controlled storage conditions.

The archives primarily deals with paper documents. Paper is composed of organic materials which deteriorate with the passage of time. Documents printed on modern paper often contain bleaches and other chemicals which can speed up this deterioration. Similarly photographs and film often contains chemical traces left over from processing which can cause deterioration. Therefore, when documents or photographs are selected for preservation it is important that they are treated to neutralize these harmful chemical residues.

In the 10th five year plan the National Archives plans to carry out a nationwide survey to determine where records of national importance are located; and in what form, shape and condition these records are being maintained. If such records are not being taken care of properly we will endeavour to assist the owners and custodians of these records to ensure their proper preservation.

They also plan to create special Oral History Tradition and Audio Visual Unit to survey, create and maintain Oral History and Audio Visual documentation for the nation.

View of Thimphu from Motithang

Motithang is a north-western suburb of Thimphu, Bhutan. The Chubachu River divides the district from Kawajangsa further north and Chubachu district lies to the east.

Meaning "the meadow of pearls", the area only developed as a residential area in the 1980s, following the initial establishment of the Motithang Hotel in 1974, on the occasion of the coronation of Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the time, the hotel was located in the middle of forest, separated from the city by farmland but today this area has grown up with houses and gardens.

Aside from the Motithang Hotel, the district contains several notable state guest houses such as the Kungacholing and Lhundupling, Rapten Apartments and the Amankora Thimphu. It also contains the National Commission for Cultural Affairs, a UNICEF station and several grocery stores, including the Lhatshog supermarket. Schools include Motithang School and Jigme Namgyal School.

There is also a notable takin wildlife sanctuary in the district, named Motithang Takin Preserve.

View of Thimphu from Yangchenphug

Yangchenphug is an eastern district of Thimphu, Bhutan. It is located across the Wang Chu River from the city centre and contains the Lungten Zampa School and Yangchenphug High School. The main road is Dechen Lam which follows the line of the river and connects the district to Zamazingka in the south.

Wangchuk Lo Dzong Ha(als known as Ha Dzong), Thimphu, Bhutan

The Royal Bhutan Army (Dzongkha: བསྟན་སྲུང་དམག་སྡེ་; Wylie: bstan-srung dmag-sde), or RBA, is a branch of the armed forces of the Kingdom of Bhutan responsible for maintaining the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty against security threats. The King of Bhutan is the Supreme Commander in Chief of the RBA. The Chief Operations Officer is Goonglon Wogma (Major General) Batoo Tshering.

The RBA includes the Royal Body Guards (RBG), an elite branch of the armed forces responsible for the security of the King, the Royal Family, and other VIPs.

It is customary, but not obligatory, for one son from each Bhutanese family to serve. In addition, militia may be recruited during emergencies. It may, from time to time, be called on to assist the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) in maintaining law and order.

The RBA was formed in the 1950s in response to the Chinese take over and subsequent People's Liberation Army actions in Tibet with intense pressure by India. In 1958, the royal government introduced a conscription system and plans for a standing army of 2,500 soldiers. The Indian government had also repeatedly urged and pressured Bhutan to end its neutrality or isolationist policy and accept Indian economic and military assistance. This was because India considered Bhutan its most vulnerable sector in its strategic defense system in regards to China. When Bhutan accepted the Indian offer, the Indian Army became responsible for the training and equipping of the RBA. By 1968, the RBA consisted of 5,000 soldiers, with a recruiting goal of 1000 additional soldiers a year. By 1990, the RBA was a force of 7,500 soldiers.

The Indian Army maintains a training mission in Bhutan, known as the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT), responsible for the military training of RBA and RBG personnel. RBA and RBG officers are sent for training at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune, and Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun.

Project DANTAK of the Border Roads Organisation, a sub-division of the Indian Army Corps of Engineers, has been operating in Bhutan since May 1961. Since then Project DANTAK has been responsible for the construction and maintenance of over 1,500 km of roads and bridges, Paro Airport and a disused airfield at Yangphula, heliports, and other infrastructure. While these serve India's strategic defence needs, it is also an obvious economic benefit for the people of Bhutan.

The Royal Bhutan Army relies on Eastern Air Command of the Indian Air Force for air assistance. In recent years India has helped Bhutan start to develop its military in all areas through military donations and training. Indian Air Force helicopters evacuated RBA casualties to India for treatment during Operation All Clear in 2003.

During the early 90s, the Indian Separatist groups, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), and Kamtapur Liberation Organization (KLO) had begun to clandestinely set up camps in Bhutan's dense southern jungles. These camps were used to train cadres, store equipment, and launch attacks on targets in India. The Bhutanese government became aware of their presence in 1996 and from 1997, the issue was regularly discussed in the National Assembly. The Government of India began exerting diplomatic pressure on the Royal Government to remove the militant presence and offered conducting joint military operations against the militants. The Royal Government preferring a peaceful solution, declined the offer and instead initiated dialogue with the militant groups in 1998. By December 2003, negotiations failed to produce any agreement and the Royal Government unable to tolerate their presence any longer issued a 48-hour ultimatum on 13 December. On 15 December the RBA commenced military operations against the militant groups.

A combined RBA and RBG force of 7,500, operating out of 20 camps established during the six years of negotiations, attacked an estimated 2,500 militants spread across 30 militant camps. By 27 December 2003, all 30 militant camps had been captured. Additionally, the RBA seized "more than 500 AK 47/56 assault rifles and 500 other assorted weapons including rocket launchers and mortars, along with more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition. An anti-aircraft gun was also found at the site of the GHQ of the ULFA."

By 3 January 2004, all 30 militant camps (ULFA-14, NDFB-11, KLO-5) with an additional 40 observation posts, were destroyed and the militants dislodged. A total of 500 ULFA, NDFB, and KLO militants were killed, while those captured along with seized weapons and ammunition were handed over to the Government of India. Captured non-combatants were handed over to Assamese civil authorities. The RBA suffered 10 soldiers KIA, and 30 WIA.

As of 1 June 2012, the RBA stood at 10,000 active duty personnel. By 2013, this number is expected to be reduced to 7,500 active duty personnel. This is in line with an initiative introduced in 2012 by the Royal Government of Bhutan to reduce the strength of the RBA while increasing militia training of the Bhutanese population.

The Army Welfare Project (AWP) is a commercial enterprise of the RBA set up in 1974 to provide benefits for retired RBA and RBG personnel in the form of employment, pensions, and loans. The AWP manufactures alcoholic beverages in three distilleries located in Sarpang, Samdrup Jongkhar and Samtse. As of 2012, the AWP was annually producing 10 million litres of alcoholic beverages of which 50 percent was consumed by the local market and the rest exported to India. Its most popular brand is the Black Mountain Whisky.

The RBA is a mobile infantry force lightly armed with weapons largely supplied by India.

Zilukha, Thimphu, Bhutan

Zilukha is a northern district, located between Jungshina to the north and Sangyegang to the south. It contains the Drubthob Gonpa/Zilukha Nunnery once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field. In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas. The place also has a great view of the majestic, Tashi Chhoe Dzong (Fortress of Glorious Religion) and government cottages nearby. A golf course spans much of the district flanking the lower eastern part.

SOURCE: WorldCities

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