History


The name Bhutan is said to be derived from the ancient Indian term Bhotana, which means the end of the land of the Bhots (the Sanskrit name of Tibetans). It could have also been extended from the Sanskrit word “Bhu’uttan” or high land. Ancient Tibetan writers called their fertile neighbour Lho Mon or Lho Yul, paradise of the South or the Land of the Monpas. The Bhutanese refer to their country as Druk Yul or land of the Peaceful dragon. Druk meaning dragon and extending from the predominant Drukpa School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Bhutan was not unified under a central authority until the 17th Century. However, religious presence in the country acted as a spiritual cohesion for many years. Guru Padmasambhava made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on a tigress’ back arriving at Taktsang Monastery, Tiger’s Nest in the Paro valley. Guru Padmasambhava is recognized as the father of the Nyingmapa religious school. Many of Bhutan’s celebrated ancestors descend from the Nyingmapa School. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan Lama of the Drukpa school designed the present systems of the intertwined religious and secular government. He fought and won battles against the Tibetans in 1639 and so unified the country and established himself as the country’s supreme leader. Within five years of his death the whole country had come under the control of the central government. At the end of 19th century, the Penlop of Tongsa overcame the Penlop of Paro and was afterwards recognized as the overall leader of Bhutan. Ugyen Wangchuck was elected the first King of Bhutan in 1907 AD.