What exactly is a Shangri la?
The word Shangri la became well known after the book Lost Horizon was made into a movie in 1937, after which the word became quite a catch. The movie shows a group of westerners who board a plane which is unfortunately hijacked and it crash-landed in a remote area in the Himalayan Mountains. They were miraculously saved by some of the Tibetans that resided there and taken to the middle of the mountain haven where it was a beautiful haven with sunny and temperate climate.
The movie introduces this place as Shangri la where everything is perfect and exactly how a heaven is supposed to be. After this movie, the Shangri la became a word for an imaginary distant place where everything is pleasant and you can get everything you want here.
Bhutan, the last Shangri La?
Anyoneís first impression about would be a developing country like India but still lacking behind in terms of electronics, hospitality, and infrastructure. It never made it to anyones wish list of places to travel and it has just opened its gates to tourism just a few years ago and from then Bhutan has miraculously become a hotspot of nature lovers who visit Bhutan to experience the rawness of the country which is no longer visible in other developed or developing countries. Amazingly beautiful Bhutan has conserved its resources so well and used its resources so wisely that Bhutan has been called the last Shangri La due to its richness and a sense of attachment the country has for its nature and environment. Amazing Bhutan is the only country which emits zero carbon among all other countries who has struggled to keep their quality of air under check.
What makes Bhutan, the last Shangri La?
Here are some of the vital reasons, which has helped it to attain the title of a Shangri La, which was purely imaginary before Bhutan became a major hotspot for nature lovers around the world. Here are few things which add to its beauty that makes it a Shangri La.
1) Sustainable Bhutan:
Bhutan is a country of valleys which is beautifully pure and raw. There are so many countries and cities whose demographics are similar to that of Bhutan but unlike the pure country, the rest of the beautiful cities have been largely affected by the commercial explosion which has caused a huge damage to the natural beauty of the place. Some of the hill stations like Shimla And Nepal may also have lush green mountains and water flowing within which is surely a treat for the eyes but Bhutan has avoided any development that would interfere with the rawness of the countryís pureness. Sustainability has been hugely reflected in all their development strategies.
2) Progress is not always development:
The nations core proposition is Gross National Happiness, which is clearly evident as you land at the Paro airport. The people here are a lot happier and their behavior so warm which resembles the people from the movies that lived in a Himalayan Shangri La. Some countries may fake smiling hostess after you reach their country but our encounter with happy people here lasted throughout our journey from the airport till the hotel which assured me of the genuineness of their behavior which was hard to find in todays world. The happiness was represented through Kiosks, billboards, and some hoarding too. Bhutanese people are the perfect residents that would reside in a Shangri La.
3) Fresh and Pure air are still not extinct:
Bhutanís air is thin, pure as well as fresh. The country acts like a visual balm to our aching soul. The sky is beautifully blue and the country is hugely resting upon its religious beliefs and cultures which make for the foundation and the core of Bhutan. We can see prayer flags surrounding the mountains and they are moving vigorously throughout the day by the gusting winds from the hilly front of the country. A Shangri la is supposed to be pure and it is exactly the kind of impression we get here after you have spent some days in this paradise or taken a trek in this beautiful paradise. It gives Shangri la a visual face in this 21st century.
4) Land of Mysteries:
Just as a Shangri la would be filled with mysteries that have no valid explanations, Bhutan to is rich in historical structures that are a magnificent art of architecture but its origin still blurry. Here in Bhutan lies a series of secrets, one being the amazing monastery, The Tigers Nest or Taktsang Monastery. The structure is built on a Cliffside of the upper Paro valley. The history states that The Tigerís Nest is a prominent Buddhist sacred site or a monastery which was built around 1692. It is said that once a Buddhist monk Guru Padmasambhava rode here from Tibet on back of a Tigress and in this cave he meditated for Three years, three months, three days and three hours in the 8th century.
Bhutan like Shangri La or the imaginary perfect place has some mysteries which have no explanation making it a mysterious place in this 21st century.
5) Traditional, Authentic, Pure and Divine:
Just as the Tibetans in the Shangri laís maintained their cultures and their traditional values with pride and importance. The secret behind the happy people of the 21st century Shangri la of Bhutan is also the traditions and values which are still followed by the local people. In a world of modernization, you would be amazed to travel in a country where the environment, legacy, and future are of great importance to the country and development here is carried in a cultural way.
6) Bhutan an environmental success:
In a time when the global diversity is at a huge risk, Bhutanís achievements in conservation are purely splendid. There are constitutions in Bhutan which states that 60 percent of the country must always be forest lands which cannot be touched for any reason. This is the minimum forest cover which they feel is a must to keep their nature pure and their environment clean.
We cannot assure how much is the minimum forest cover it requires for a Country to be a Shangri la but Bhutan surely has a lot of its land which is still untouched. Its reforestation programs are a must and are carried out by the proud citizens of the country throughout the year which cuts down its carbon emission negligible and the only carbon negative country in the world.
Bhutan demonstrates the possibility of preserving a very high biodiversity while achieving a safe amount of sustainable development.
Bhutan has earned the title of Shangri la and rightly so. It is an exceptional example to other countries who think that the happiness of their people only lies with money earning opportunities and the development can only be done at the risk of the environmental degradation. Our future generations also need the resources like we do so we cannot be selfish and destroy our environment which makes our Earth the only place in the universe where we can exist.
Shangri la is a future concept which can also be made a reality before we use up everything our nature had once provided to us in abundance.