Bhutan’s “Gelephu Mindfulness City”

  Feb 12, 2024

Bhutan’s “Gelephu Mindfulness City

1. What is the Gelephu Mindfulness City?

Gelephu Mindfulness City is a planned urban development in Bhutan, aiming to cover 1,000 square kilometers near the town of Gelephu along Bhutan’s southern border with India. It’s designed to be an economic hub and a gateway for tourists, embodying Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness philosophy by prioritizing economic development and personal well-being.

2. Where will Gelephu Mindfulness City be located?

The city will be built near Gelephu, an important border town in southern Bhutan, serving as a crossing point for Indian travelers. This location is strategically chosen to serve as a gateway for tourists to the rest of the country.

3. What are some key features of Gelephu Mindfulness City?

The city’s masterplan includes a series of unique inhabitable bridges that will host an international airport, a university, healthcare facilities integrating Eastern and Western medicine, a hydroponic greenhouse, cultural and spiritual centers, a local goods market, and a hydroelectric dam.

4. How does the city plan to integrate with its natural environment?

The design incorporates the area’s rivers and streams, organizing neighborhoods like mandalas around central public spaces. Urban terraces and paddy fields along the rivers aim to protect against flooding, serve as biodiversity corridors, and leave wildlife migratory routes undisturbed.

5. What makes Gelephu Mindfulness City unique?

Its design philosophy is based on Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, focusing on both economic development and personal well-being. The city plans to use local materials for construction, such as wood, stone, and bamboo, and features innovative urban planning that integrates the natural environment.

6. What is the current status of the project?

Construction of a new international airport and a dry port has already commenced. The completion date for the entire project is not set, as it will depend on the progress of business developments. The Mindfulness City Special Administrative Region (SAR) is envisioned as a long-term project that will evolve over the years.

7. How will Gelephu Mindfulness City impact Bhutan and its residents?

The project aims to boost economic development in southern Bhutan while ensuring the well-being of its residents. By attracting tourists and integrating sustainable practices, it hopes to set a new standard for city planning in harmony with nature and local culture.

8. What are the challenges facing the development of Gelephu Mindfulness City?

Challenges might include balancing rapid development with environmental conservation, ensuring the infrastructure supports both local communities and tourists without overwhelming the natural landscape, and maintaining the Gross National Happiness philosophy in the face of modernization and globalization pressures.

9. How does Bhutan’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness influence the city’s design?

The philosophy prioritizes the happiness and well-being of its citizens over mere economic growth. This influence is evident in the city’s focus on sustainable living, community-centric urban planning, and the integration of cultural, spiritual, and environmental values into its design.

10. What are the long-term goals for Gelephu Mindfulness City?

The long-term goals include establishing a model city that exemplifies sustainable development, economic growth, and enhanced well-being in line with Gross National Happiness. It also aims to become a blueprint for future urban development that can be replicated in Bhutan and potentially in other countries.


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