The Shangri-La Kingdom of the thunder dragon.

Click to a larger version of Bhutan: Temple of the "Tiger's Lair" in the mountains above Paro.

Bhutan: Temple of the "Tiger's Lair" in the mountains above Paro.

The remote Himmalayan Bhuddist kingdom of Bhutan offers a rare glimpse into our dreams of the ideal "Shangri-La".
The secular state ruled by the King wields a benevolent and balanced power with the equally pervading religious state and both religion and the royal family infuse the everyday life of the largely farming populace.
Public and religious buildings can be grand and beautifully decorated or else remote and perched in the most inaccessible of locations.
Click to a larger version of Royal Court of Justice

Royal Court of Justice

Secular and monastic life exists inexorably intertwined as in the case of the Royal Court, ultimately presided over by the Monarch but physically located within the confines of the Huge Dzong (fortress monastery) dominating the plain of Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan.
Click to a larger version of Bhutan bridges

Bhutan bridges

As in Europe, monks were the intelligentia of the ancient world.
In around 1420 a renowned monk Thangton Gyelpo ((1385-1464) created what is believed to be the world's first iron chain link bridge across this charming river valley close to the confluence of the Paro and Thimpu river. The bridge was disassembled in 1969 and and has recently been re-erected as a monument to Buddhist wisdom both temporal and spiritual.
Click to a larger version of Bhutan faithful at prayer.

Bhutan faithful at prayer.

The Bhutanese are devout Buddhists with religion pervading many aspects of daily life.
The faithful at prayer here were taking part in a litany devoted to world peace - despite the fact that few troubles of the outside world filter through to this isolated and benign theocratic kingdom. The litany of prayer lasted for three days!
Click to a larger version of Bhutan family at home

Bhutan family at home

The Bhutanese are spiritually wealthy and well fed. There are few, if any beggars (certainly far fewer in their largest city than around a mid sized British railway station!).
Television reached the country in the mid 1990s and the first car did not appear until 1956.
Many families live in simple houses heated by charcoal or wood.