The lofty barriers had wrapped the country with a cloak of mysticism. For centuries, the country did not have a name for the outside world. Some Tibetan chronicles referred to it with exotic names such as the ‘Southern Valley of Medicinal Herbs’ or the ‘Lotus Garden of the Gods.’ To the Bhutanese, the country was always ‘Druk Yu’ literally meaning ‘The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon.’
The name Bhutan appears to have derived from the ancient Indian term ‘Bhotanta’ which means the end of the land of the Bhots. Bhot was the Sanskrit term for Tibetans. Bhutan’s distant past is surrounded by mystery, as books and documents were lost in a series of fires and earthquakes which destroyed important Dzongs where the historical records had been stored. The prominent event in what little exists of Bhutanese history is the legendary flight of Guru Padmasambhava from Tibet in 747 AD. Guru Rimpoche, as he is today popularly referred to, is considered the second Buddha. Guru Rimpoche arrived in Paro valley at the Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest.) Today a monastery exists perched precariously on the cliff’s face as an indelible mark of the Guru’s visit. Guru Rimpoche is the founder of the tantric strain of Mahayana Buddhism practiced in Bhutan. He is also worshipped as the father of the Nyingmapa School of religion.