The pursuit of happiness, immaculate beauty of it’s the unspoiled natural environs, its focus on organic living and lifestyle options and its spiritual vitality all make Bhutan a destination of choice for revitalising body and soul.
Hot Springs Therapy
Join the stream of visitors at the Gasa Hot Springs, or tshachu, near the banks of the Mo Chu River in Punakha district. Long renowned for their therapeutic properties the waters here have been attracting both locals and tourists. The journey itself to the springs takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes, which soothe and revitalise your senses. In Bhutan, hot spring therapy is a serious traditional natural healing practice for various body ailments. The set up here features five general bath houses, and one that is reserved for the royals, where one can take a dip in the mineral waters (drubchu) which can vary in temperature and different medicinal properties (smenchu). Hot Springs are also held in veneration, as they are blessings from the Buddha.
Hot-Stone Bhutanese Bath
Alternately, you can opt for a traditional home grown spa treatment, a hot stone bath which is a centuries-old tradition in Bhutanese culture. Parkling clean fresh river water is mixed with Artemisia leaves and heated using river stones that are heated to a fiery red. If you can endure even greater heat this can be done by adding more heated stones into a wooden chamber via a chute. The chamber has holes through which the heat is infused into the bath; the stones are supposed to release key minerals into the water with medicinal properties.
Bhutan’s spiritual moorings are deeply entrenched with the teachings of Guru Padmasambhava who in the 8th century started the practice of the Vajrayana Buddhism, also known as Tibetan Buddhism. Scattered across the country are dzongs and chortens, sacred spaces which are firm reminders of the Buddhist faith which binds the populace together in this Himalayan kingdom. An exclusive arrangement can be made for you to spend the day in the company of monks at a monastery, take part in some of their practices such as lighting of the butter lamps, meditating and even receive the blessings of a senior monk at the end of your visit. At Gangtey you can experience the simple but richly symbolic prayer flag hoisting ceremony near a local shedra or monastic school.
One with Nature
Reconnecting with nature in Bhutan takes outdoor experiences to a whole new level. The mountainous landscape, the wild rivers and silvery streams and the biotic richness of the country, of which almost 60 percent lies under forest cover, offers plenty of scope for wholesome activities such as trekking, mountain biking, angling, river rafting and driving holidays. Unwind at leisure as you interface with new communities and cultures on an eco-friendly adventure. A hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten connects you to Bhutan’s natural splendour, its spirituality and the engagement with a harmonious mind-set. The four tiered, pagoda-style temple here was commissioned by Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk with the purpose of propagating peace and harmony in the kingdom. Its architectural vision is rooted in the tenets of Buddhist scriptures. Stroll through the beautifully tended gardens which are a visual delight in themselves.
Bhutanese culinary traditions are all about comfort and adventure for the palate. Most Bhutanese meals include rice; it could be red or white, which may be eaten with meat or veggies. The meats of choice are pork, beef and chicken; veggies include spinach, pumpkins, turnips, river weed, onions, radishes, tomatoes and green beans. Spend time at a farmers’ market shopping for fresh vegetables and exotic produce. Then watch the magic being unleashed in a local family kitchen. Cooking is an excellent way to unwind and making even the simplest dishes, like the national favourite ‘Ema Datshi’, a stew made with cheese and chillies, a joy to learn. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Camp out in a forest with local family members and go mushroom harvesting. Not only will you get to learn a lot about mushrooms, you can also enjoy the simpler pleasures of living in a forest away from the hustle and bustle of an urban landscape. Glug comfort-giving tumblers of suja–the Tibetan-style butter tea. Slightly salty and buttery, it tastes like a warm cup of soup rather than tea.
A collection of wondrous destinations in Bhutan opens up all kinds of ways to enjoy plenty of R&R to return home with renewed energy and positivity. You can take a bet these intense memories will stay close to your heart and create new ways of tackling the challenges of everyday stress.