The recent Kuensel editorial that suggested Bhutan as a spiritual destination warrants a serious consideration. I too believe there is great potential here. The few hundreds of Vietnamese pilgrims landing in Paro was a testimony of this. A large group of Malaysians came around some months back.
It is only pity, though, that they just came for 4 days – apparently because of the high SDF fees. Perhaps the government may like to work out some discounts to visitors making longer trips, because at this rate people will just see Taktshang and go away. They will not even get to see Bumthang Kurjey and Jampa Lhakhang.
Better still, we should develop a separate visa category altogether – for third country visitors and for pilgrims from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. A good pilgrimage to Bhutan should be for a month – and three months if someone wants to attend a teaching event or spend some time meditating and completing some deeper practices.
Spiritually, Bhutan is magical. In the three pandemic years, 2020-22, I took a lot of opportunities to explore the sacred places around the country. I must say it has been a truly marvellous journey – and to some extent transformative too.
Yes, there can be the Amans and Umas of the world. There can be this “exclusive” destination spin too. But Bhutan is also a Bae-Yul – the hidden kingdom of Guru Padmasambhava – and blessed by the primordial Buddhas and the successive masters and enlightened beings like Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Drukpa Kuenley and Pema Lingpa. It has maintained spiritual purity like no other – something that we can be proud of and share with the world in these degenerative times.
One place that has drawn me frequently in recent years is Zhemgang, which has hidden paradises like Buli and Buli Lake, Mebar Tokchoe Temple, and Dunmang Hot-springs.
Zhemgang is also a natural Eden of lush tropical green and of birds and animals.
2 thoughts on “In Spiritual Tourism, I believe”
Oh! The tree is a Podocarpus neriifolius. It is not a last piece in Bhutan but quite an interesting species. Although it bears broad leaves, it is a conifer species. It could be an only species of conifer with such leaves. The distribution of this species in Bhutan is rather sporadic. Though we haven’t come across mass exploitation of this species in Bhutan, it is a preferred timber species elsewhere.
Thanks for the information.
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