HistoryIt is believed that the name Bhutan is derived from the Sanskrit Bhotant, meaning “the end of Tibet,” or from Bhu-uttan, meaning “high land.” Mystery surrounds Bhutan’s distant past, as priceless historical documents were lost in fires and earthquakes. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, the Bhutanese themselves refer to their country as Druk Yul or the land of the thunder dragon.
In 747 A.D. Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava, or second Buddha) made his legendary trip from Tibet across the mountains flying on a tigress’s back. He arrived in Paro valley at Taktsang Lhakhang also known as tiger’s nest. The guru began propagation of the tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism.
The country was unified under the Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism in the early 17th century, by the religious figure, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Zhabdrung codified a comprehensive system of laws and built Dzongs which guarded each valley. In the next two centuries, the nation was once again fragmented into regional fiefdoms with intermittent civil wars. At the end of the 19th century, the Trongsa governor (Penlop) Ugyen Wangchuck, who then controlled the central and eastern regions, overcame all his rivals and united the nation. In 1907, Ugyen Wangchuck was unanimously enthroned as the 1st king thereby establishing a hereditary monarchy system.
In 2006, the fourth King handed over his responsibilities to his son King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and the formal coronation was held in November 2008. Bhutan is now a constitutional monarchy and had its first parliamentary elections in December 2007 and March 2008.