History

Although there are several derivations of the name Bhutan, one is from the ancient Indian term Bhotanta which literally translate into The end of the land of the Bhots. Bhot was the Sanskrit term for Tibetans. The name Bhutan takes yet another origin from a Sanskrit term Bhu-utan meaning highland. Bhutan is geographically elevated compared to the low-lying plains of neighboring Indi – hence this name is from an Indian standpoint.

Bhutan was also known by several other names: Lho Jong – The Land of the South; Lho Mon Kha Zhi – The Southern Mon country of the four approaches; Lho Jong Men Jong – The Southern valley of Medicinal herbs; and Lho Mon Tsenden Jong – The Southern Mon valley of abundant cypress. Tibetans used the term Mon to refer to a Non-Buddhist, Mongoloid race that populated the southern Himalayas.

Bhutan was also popularly known as Druk Yul or the Land of the Drukpas. This name was derived from the Drukpa Kagyud sect of Buddhism which was the dominant religion sometime in the 17th century. Today, Druk Yul translates into The Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Buddhism as a religion was introduced in Bhutan by the Tibetan Dharma King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. It received a wave of renewal and revival when Guru Padmasambhava, a Buddhist tantric master, who is also widely revered as the second Buddha, visited Bhutan in 746 AD.

Bhutan was first unified in the 17th century by Zhadrung Ngawang Namgyel, a great Tibetan Lama of the Drukpa school of Buddism who first came to Bhutan in 1616. He then established himself as a Supreme Leader. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal also promulgated the first set of Bhutanese laws and codifications of these laws were completed in 1652. After his death in 1651, his system of rule failed and the country was dragged back to in-fighting between different factions.

Bhutan’s first King was unanimously crowned in 1907 after she had enough of chaos and civil strife. King Ugyen Wangchuck, the first Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King), ruled Bhutan for 19 years leaving behind a legacy of unity, progress and most important of all ‘ The Wangchuck Dynasty that rules Bhutan.

In 2008, Bhutan marked the centenary year of Monarchy. The year would also go into the annals of Bhutan’s history when Bhutan went to the polls for the very first time to nominate a democratically elected government for a five-year term. King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, the fifth hereditary monarch of Bhutan, was also crowned that very year.