History

zhabdrungBhutan is known for its ancient monasteries, holy places, and god-fearing people. In the past, the country was known by different names, including Lho Jong (Southern Land), Lhomon Khazhi, (The Southern Mon Country of Four Approaches), Lhojong Menjong (The Southern Land of Medicinal Plants) and Lho Mon Tsenden Jong (The Southern Mon Country Where Sandalwood Grows). These names referred to Bhutan’s location in the south of Tibet. Mon in Tibetan language means darkness. It was believed that before the arrival of Buddhism, Bhutan was called the land of darkness. After the Drukpa Kagyud tradition of Buddhism gained prominence, Bhutan was known as Drukyul, land of Drukpas.

Bhutan was built into a nation state by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who came from Tibet in 1616. He consolidated Bhutan under the duel system of governance, the religious and secular. The period after Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal was marked by violence, bloodshed, and power struggle between different regional rulers. The period of political instability and violence came to an end with the installation of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck as the first King of Bhutan on December 17, 1907.