Bhutan lures Buddhist tourism
Bhutan is considering using Guru Padmasambhava in their tourism promotions to attract more tourists from the neighbouring Himalayan regions. Guru Padmasambhava, also known as the Second Buddha, was a sage guru said to have transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet, Bhutan and neighbouring countries. This all even when Bhutan has all other advantages to become a tourist hot-spot. It has some of world’s greatest trekking and mountaineering routes, breathtaking landscape, peace & tranquility, friendly people, exclusive culture, worldlife and easy entry & exit policies.
Although Bhutan is a Buddhist country and get inquiries about Buddhist Pilgrimage Tourism, it has no connection with the historical Buddha. It can’t even claim that he came to Bhutan! Hence, it wants to promote Guru Padmasambhava for this sector. He was believed to have been born in Pakistan and flown on a tiger across India, Nepal and Tibet. This angle thus fits in more perfectly with us and connects all the Himalayan region countries, from Pakistan right down to Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim and so on, allowing us to tap all these markets.
In Bhutan, Guru Padmasambhava is associated with the famous Paro Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest” monastery. Later he travelled to Bumthang district to subdue a powerful deity offended by a local king. Padmasambhava’s body imprint can be found in the wall of a cave at nearby Kurje Lhakhang temple.
Bhutan hopes to position itself as a connector hub for North East India and Thailand as well. It is providing a lot more connectivity to the North Eastern region of India than India herself does. Since Bhutan launched flights from Guwahati and Bagdogra, it has seen a number of Indians flying into Bhutan and subsequently travelling to Thailand. So it is looking at not just attracting inbound tourists to Bhutan, but also ferrying them ahead to Bangkok and so on. It is worth mentioning here that Thailand also forms the part of the Buddhist circuit. Whereas it also has more than couple of land entry routes through India.
Promoting Buddhism adds to what Bhutan already has to offer.