THIMPHU (ALTITUDE: 1,800 - 5,400M APPROX.)
Thimphu, the capital city, is a bustling town on the banks of the river Wang Chhu. It is home to the Bhutanese Royal Family, the Royal Government, and several foreign missions and development projects. The shape of the valley is likened to that of the deep skull with a winding crystal river that descends into Thimphu valley from the high mountain above. It is said that eight auspicious signs can be witnessed in the features of the valley.
Top 11 Interesting Facts about THIMPHU, Bhutan
- Thimphu is the Capital city of Bhutan. The nickname is “Palace in the sky”
- The city extends in a north-south direction on the west bank of the Thimphu river, which is known as the Wang Chuu
- Thimphu is home to approximately 100,000 inhabitants including the Royal family.
- It’s the only capital in the world without any traffic lights
- Thimphu is the storehouse of traditional Bhutanese art
- The Grand Thimphu Festival is held at Tashichodzong
- The stroll through the city is an opportunity to experience full ethnic diversity.
- It is an excellent place for sightseeing and hiking
- Traditional mud-rammed homes & modern architecture coexist in Thimphu.
- Thimphu Offers Bhutan’s best dining and nightlife
- Thimphu offers a variety of souvenirs to take back home
Here are the most popular tourist places to plan for while you are in Thimphu
Tashichho Dzong reflects the history of Bhutan. It is located on the northern edge of Thimphu and river Wang Chu flowing along its bank. Tashichho Dzong means ‘the fortress of the glorious religion” and is home to both religious and administrative activities. As located in the vicinity of the mountains and lakes, Tashichho Dzong is the reflection of Bhutanese fine architecture with detailed artistic woodwork.
The stupa was built in 1974 in memory of the Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk . It was his dream to erect the monument to honor world peace and prosperity.
It is centrally located. Devotees flock to the temple throughout the day to turn the prayer wheels or for circumambulation.It is a beautiful place where you can capture the sight of pigeons being fed mostly by old citizens in the morning hours. You will see the locals from all the walk of life engaged in Spiritual activities.
National Institute Of Zorig Chusum
The National Institute of Zorig Chusum is a place where students learn the 13 traditional Arts and Crafts. This is a great place to checkout the work of Bhutanese Art.
These 13 arts are drawn from Buddhist culture and defines the overall spectrum of Bhutanese Art Culture & Heritage. You will come across students actively engaged in painting, embroidery, woodcraft ,masonry, sculptor and carpentry and architecture. They are used to working while the visitors are there and this is also a few place where you can take your camera for photograph.
Witness the magic of the traditional arts and crafts come to life at National Institute of Zorig Chusum.
The Buddha Dordenma Statue which is 169ft is the world’s tallest Buddha statue and it is located about 6kms from Thimphu city.The statue is surrounded by 943 acres of forest area that comprises the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. The place also has walking and biking trails.
You can also get the grand view of Thimphu Valley from here.
Five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge, stands Simtokha Dzong the oldest fortress in the Kingdom. Simtokha’s strategic position overlooks the entire Thimphu Valley. The central tower has 12 sides, unlike any other Fortress in Bhutan. It also contains the bed chambers of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel, the father of first king of Bhutan
Perched on a small mountain lies the Changangkha lhakhang overlooking the Thimphu Valley. It was established in the 12th century on the site chosen by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. Devotees flock to the temple throughout the day to turn the prayer wheels.
The local people visit Changangkha Lhakhang to get the names for their newborn babies and also to seek protection from the Local deity namely Tamdrin.
The place has a calming effect. You can get a good view of Thimphu valley from here. There are many things that you can do here. You can offer the wine to the deity, light a butter lamp or offer milk to the Naga Goddess.
The inner sanctum of the temple is dedicated to Avolokiteshvara , the god of compassion. The statue of Avalokiteshvara is supposed to be self emanating. It also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold.
Visit to National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. It was opened in 1967 to preserve the ancient Dzongkha texts and act as a repository for thousands of old religious books and manuscripts as well as the wooden blog used for printing. An altar located in the entrance lobby has statues of some of the most important historic figures- Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Pema Lingpa & Guru Padmasambhava.
They are dedicated fully to the preservation and promotion of the rich literary, cultural and religious heritage of our country.
Located on the way to Thimphu from Paro. One need to cross the iron bridge in order to get to this lhakhang. The iron bridge was constructed by Drupthop Thangtong Gyalpo. It is amazing to note that iron bridge chain bridge was constructed on 13th century and it is durable and strong.
It is a fun crossing the bridge
It is an hour hike up to a steep hill to visit Cheri Monastery, or Goemba, built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and established with an original staff of 30 monks. Today the monastery serves as the main meditation
Center of the country and has more than 70 monks undergoing their three year, three-month retreat. Inside is a silver chorten holding the ashes of the Shabdrung’s father.
Royal Textile Academy Of Bhutan
The Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck with the aim to promote the textile arts of Bhutan.
You can witness the beauty and diversity of the living textile arts of Bhutan.
A great place to meet youung monks and check out their day to day lives.
Dechen Phodrang Literally means the ‘Palace of Bliss. It is situated high up among the clouds, north of the Thimphu city. Built in the 12th century, it is one of the original dzongs of Bhutan and currently serves as a Monastic School where over four hundred monks are enrolled.The main attractions of this site are rare Bhutanese artefacts which includes 12th century paintings, monitored by the UNESCO.
The natural surroundings & the architectural beauty makes this place worth visiting. You often spot a procession of monks, in their ubiquitous maroon robes, moving between the dzong and this building.
Thangthong Dewachen Zilukha Nunnery
The nunnery is located in Zilukha overlooking Tashicho Dzong. The monastery is located few minutes away from the town.The monastery was constructed in 1976 by the emanation of Drupthop Thangtong Gyelpo who is famour for building iron bridges
The Nunnery also represents the merging of Bhutan’s spiritual past, the evolving present, and the challenges of the future.
Dochula Pass is one of the greatest sightseeing places in Thimphu. The journey from Thimphu to Punakha en routes via Dochula Pass which is a high mountain pass situated 3,100 meters above sea level.
It is located about 23 kilometers from Thimphu and the beginning of the drive passes via Simtokha Dzong and the road ascends to a good view of Simtokha Dzong before passing the village of Hongtsho and reaching Dochula Pass.
Dochula Pass is marked by a magnificent cluster of 108 Chortens (stupas) known as the Druk Wangyal Chorten. Besides the amazing setting festooned with hundreds of colorful prayer flags, you will be able to see some of the great Himalayan peaks framed by the lazuline sky.
If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the northeast will be revealed in all their glory. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Enjoy a cup of hot coffee at the Dochula cafeteria while admiring the amazing view of the snow-capped peaks.
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang is located next to the Druk Wangyal Chorten.
Druk Wangyel Lhakhang
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) was built in honor of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The past and future appears to merge in the details of the lhakhang (temple) and its structure tells the story of a supreme warrior figure, whose vision pierces the distant future in a fine blend of history and mythology.
Pangri Zamba School Of Astrology
Founded in the early 16th century, this riverside monastery complex houses Bhutan’s most important college for traditional astrology. It is about 10km from town
It’s a photogenic stop even if none of the chapels are open,
The complex gets its name from the cantilevered bridge beside the complex, and the two huge cypress trees in front of the temple are said to be the biggest in the country.There are intricately etched and painted stones embedded along the sides of the wall.Pangri Zampa was the residence of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel when he arrived Bhutan in 1616 AD, directed here from Tibet by a divine vision.
Bhutan Postal Museum
The Bhutan Postal Museum enables you to see the replica story of Bhutan’s progress and development through the lens of the evolution of communications and postal system in the country. The story is told through anecdotes, artifacts and the rich assortment of stamps the country has produced over the years.
You can also create your own stamps which can be posted within Bhutan.
It is a beautiful park with fish pond and varied species of plants, as well as the spiritual sound resounding from Tashichodzong ,along with the Himalayan wind fluttering through the prayer flags, coupled with the tranquil sounds of the Wangchhu river that flows beyond, it provides the perfect opportunity for all visitors to generate sense of love and appreciation of Bhutan’s unique natural and spiritual beauty.
Centenary Farmers Market
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday the weekend market is held in the capital. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products. Another great place to meet the locals and purchase organic foods like honey, mushrooms etc