A Visit to The Happiest Country: Bhutan

Actor Thakur Anoop Singh made his acting debut in the small screen and later appeared in several Hindi films. Besides acting, Anoop is immensely passionate about fitness. He is looked upon as an inspirational fitness icon, and whenever he takes time off from work, he loves to travel. According to him, “Travelling is the best way to relax your mind and body, and is also a great opportunity to learn about how people lead their lives in different parts of the world.”

Anoop recalls, “I always wanted to travel to a place that is beautiful and isolated from the rest of the world and some place with pleasant weather,” hence he had decided to visit Bhutan. What struck the actor the most about Bhutan is the fact that it not only has a very strong ancient Buddhist culture, but is also the only country that is completely carbon negative. Landlocked between India, China, Tibet and Nepal, Bhutan is known as the “Happiest Country” in Asia and the eight in the world.

The actor mentions that from the age of 19, he has been travelling solo and he thoroughly enjoys the experience. Although Anoop went alone to Bhutan, his friend from Bhutan accompanied him throughout his trip. After the actor reached the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, he checked in to a popular hotel. The actor recalls, “As soon as I landed in Bhutan, the first thing that caught my eyes was the amazing infrastructure, the pleasant mountains, and ofcourse the temples.” Unlike a few countries, the ancient temples in Bhutan are well preserved and maintained. Anoop says, “The local people are very humble and come from a rich cultural background.”

One of the tourist spots that Anoop liked the most was the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which is also known as the ParoTakstang. This is indeed one of the most visited places in Bhutan. The Tiger Nest Monastery is a tiny collection of buildings situated on top of a cliff, which is about 900 metres off the ground. This is considered to be a sacred place for the local people. It was constructed in 1692, surrounding the cave in which Guru Rinpoche had first started meditating, this was how Buddhism was introduced to the locals. Guru Rinpoche travelled from Tibet to The Tiger Nest Monastery on the back of a tigress, and that’s how it got its name. Besides the ancient history, Anoop thoroughly enjoyed climbing the mountains. He says, “Usually people take a couple of hours to climb, but since my friend and I are athletes, we climbed in just two hours.” After climbing the mountain, the travellers went into the temple to seek blessings. Anoop reminisces, “I felt a deep connection the moment I stepped into the ancient temple. It was one of the most memorable moments during my trip.” He added, “If given a chance, I would like to visit this sacred temple again.”

The actor suggests that if you’re planning a trip to Bhutan, you must try the local cuisine. Bhutanese cuisine is largely influenced by Indian, Chinese and Tibetan food. Just like the country, even the food in Bhutan has its own unique appeal. Anoop says, he couldn’t try manylocal dishes as he was on a strict diet, but the most popular dishes wereJashaMaroo (spicy chicken), PhakshaPaa (pork with red chillies), Momos, EmaDatshi (cheese and chilies), Red rice, KewaDatshi, and Juma. Dried Yak Cheese is a cheese snack that is unique to this region. Even though it has an extremely hard texture, it is very tasty and makes for the perfect snack while you’re climbing the mountains. Besides the food, Bhutan is also known for its vast variety of teas like black tea, green tea and Suja (local butter tea).

When asked what the one thing that he really liked about Bhutan was, he replied, “It’s difficult to name one, but I loved the fact that people in Bhutan are generous and have strong cultural values. This country also has some of the most stunning, ancient temples and hotels, and scenic mountains.”                               - as told to Akhila