The Great Chain on Urantia (Preface, page 1 of 2)


 
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Some sixty miles to the east of Nepal is the young kingdom of Bhutan, a mountainous country somewhat larger than Switzerland, consisting essentially of a portion of the southern slopes of the Great Himalayan Range.

The northern border is the crest of that range, Mt. Everest being about one hundred and thirty miles west; and the southern border lying along the edge of the flood plain of the Brahmaputra. The delta of the Ganges, and Calcutta, are some three hundred miles due south.

Not much is known about the early history of Bhutan. There are scrolls and manuscripts in various monastery archives in the mountains, but these have not been systematically studied. It seems that local lords, neptongs, long fought for supremacy. Archery is still the national sport.

Yaks graze on the dry and cool alpine meadows in the summer months. At the opposite extreme, no cultivation or any pasturing is possible in the dense semitropical rain forest of the lower southern slopes, exposed to the wet monsoons. Fifty feet of rain may fall there in three months.

Within the short distance of some ninety miles, elevation rises from 600 feet to 24,000 feet. This situation has restricted the development of transport, and kept Bhutan long isolated from the mainstream of world affairs. It is a country outside of time, beyond the normal march of progress.

More than half of the approximately one million people of Bhutan, mainly in the northern portion, are of Tibetan origin, speaking and writing Dzongkha, a Tibetan dialect, and following a lamaistic Buddhism. The other large group, primarily Nepalese, practice Hinduism.

Bhutan is unique among the member nations of the UN, in having declared the Yeti its official animal, issuing a series of postage stamps commemorating that creature to illustrate the fact. One of them shows a woman being carried off by a Yeti.

It is speculated the Yeti, or Yeh-Teh, and its variants, the Meh-Teh or Mi-Go, and the Almas, all varieties of the notorious Abominable Snowman, though known mostly from tracks in the Himalayan snows, normally inhabit rain forests, as do its North American cousins, the Sasquatch and Bigfoot. It is thought the wanderings in the mountaintops might have to do with the vitamin rich lichens on the rocks.

The community of Paro, elevation 7700 feet, sits on the banks of a tributary of the Wong Chhu, and is situated midway between the northern border with Tibet and the southern border with India, both being around forty miles distant.

The capital, Thimphu, lies to the east of Paro, again about forty miles away. Each of these population centers are in the western part of Bhutan, close to the border with the older and even smaller Sikkim, another Himalayan kingdom that was closely tied to India at the time of this narrative.

 
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