The Kingdom’s capital city is home to approximately 100,000 inhabitants including the Royal family. This bustling little city is the main center of administration and commerce in the country.
Thimphu is the most modern city in Bhutan with an abundance of restaurants, internet cafes, nightclubs and shopping centers, however it still retains its’ cultural identity and values amidst the signs of modernization.Thimphu is one of the few towns in Bhutan that have been equipped with ATM banking facilities and is a good place to stock up on some currency.
One of the most curious features of Thimphu is that it is the only capital city in the world that does not use traffic lights. Instead a few major intersections have policemen standing in elaborately decorated booths (small pavilions), directing traffic with exaggerated hand motions. The juxtaposition of ancient tradition and modernity make Thimphu the ideal location for visitors to break away from their tour itinerary and just immerse themselves in the lifestyle of contemporary Bhutanese.
This stupa was built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan's third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
This Chorten is one of the most visited religious structures in Bhutan.
It is a fortress like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. The temple was established in 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who came from Tibet. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11 heads. From temple courtyard, there is fascinating view of Thimphu valley.
The Centenary and Coronation Park is Located along the banks of the Thimphu Chhu, behind the National Stadium of Changlimithang. The Park was inaugurated by the Queen Mother Ashi Chimmi Yangzom Wangchuk on 26 September 2006 to commemorate 100 years of Monarchy in the country and to celebrate the Coronation of the new monarch His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk who was crowned on 1st November 2008. This park is built on an area of 5.6 acre of land of parkland offer a pleasant and relaxing environment to stroll or to sit and watch the river flow by.
The park was formed by foot path made of stones, canopies and benches. There are small swings and slides, a miniature basketball court and a small sand football ground. Not only that the park is filled with gardens of more than sixty species of flower and trees. During the evening the lights are lit up by the Thimphu Power Corporation of Bhutan.
Another landmark in this park is a 45 feet tall statue of walking Buddha statue. It was inaugurated on 13 April 2012 which symbolizes the celebration of the 84th Birth Anniversary of Thailand’s King and also the wedding anniversary of His Majesty the King. It is also believed to have been constructed for the people to pursue happiness. The inauguration was ended by lighting candles and reciting prayers.
TashichhoDzong is the Administrative seat of the Country and Throne Room of the King, HRH Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. TashichhoDzong is also known as "fortress of the glorious religion", it was initially built in 1641 and later rebuilt in its present form by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk in 1965.
It is a majestic fort which glorifies the entire capital city with its beauty. The National Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the other side of the river from the Dzong. During the warmer summer months, the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.
Located in the capital city of Thimphu, this museum was established in 2001 and provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life. The Folk Heritage Museum is set inside a three storied, 19th century traditional house.
The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, in addition to artifacts from rural households; it also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment. The museum also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs as well as hosting educational programs for children.
The activities of the museum follow a seasonal rhythm, just like the activities of a true rural household, offering you something new to see every time you visit the place. The museum does a remarkable job of recapturing the rural setting and ambiance of a traditional household by setting up paddy, wheat and millet fields, a traditional water-mill with mill stones more than 150 years old, traditional style kitchen gardens with vegetables that were typically grown during the past 100 years and even one of the traditional hot stone baths that are famous throughout the country.
In an effort to maintain our knowledge of indigenous natural resources, native trees and plants that had domestic uses in a rural Bhutanese household is grown, creating an oasis of greenery, right in the heart of the capital city of Thimphu.
The Takin Preserve center located in Thimphu, is a wildlife reserve area for Takin (Budorcas taxicolor), the national animal of Bhutan. The preserve center was originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. The reason for declaring Takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kinley.
Takin attract attention due to their unusual appearance. Taxonomists were originally uncertain of this animal's phylogeny and many people describe it as a “bee-stung moose”. Takin is listed as a vulnerable species of goat-antelope, native to Bhutan, India, the People's Republic of China and Tibet.
Its habitat is alpine meadows during the summer season, above an altitude of 3,700 meters (12,100 ft.), where they feed primarily on grasses. During the summer monsoon season, the lower elevation forests are inhospitable for Takin due to the abundance of leeches, mosquitoes, and horseflies. Alpine meadows provide rich grazing for Takin and as a result some males have been reported to weigh as much as a ton. Courtship and mating occur in July and August. After a gestation period of about 8 months, a single calf is born, usually in late February or March. Adult Takin have a golden yellow and brownish coat; calves are initially black in color. As the rainy season tapers, the animals move down to elevations of 2,000 meters (6,600 ft) and 3,000 meters (9,800 ft.) to browse during the winter season on temperate vegetation of broad leaf forests.
The name Simtokha literally means “Atop a Demon” and the legend associated with the Dzong’s construction tells us that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travellers in the region.
This Dzong, built in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, stands on a low ridge 8 km down the valley from Thimphu. The Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located here. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this Dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
The Dzong houses countless statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rimpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and many more, all carved and painted in exquisite detail
The handicrafts emporium is located on Norzin Lam and has a wide variety of handicrafts, displaying assortment of beautifully hand –woven and handcrafted products.
The word Zorig Chusum means “the thirteen arts” also called as painting school among the Bhutanese, this school provides training in the Bhutanese arts and crafts. Students from all over the country, who have an aptitude for arts, come here for four to five years training. After the training these students are employed to restore traditional Bhutanese arts and paintings.
This school was established to promote Bhutanese culture through preservation of traditional Arts and Crafts, to revive the dying Arts and Crafts through research and transfer of traditional and professional skills to the Youth.
The national library was established in 1967 with the primary objective of collecting and preserving mainly ancient Buddhist written and printed resources. It is a major scriptural repository with a number of important functions dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rich cultural and religious heritage in the country.
The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.
The Jungshi handmade paper factory uses traditional methods to produce the authentic Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho.
It is located approximately 1 km from Thimphu City. The factory uses the bark of two tree species, the Daphne tree and Dhekap tree in the manufacture of traditional paper. Visitors can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper using ancient traditional methods that have been practiced for generations. You can even try your hand at this ancient craft and make some paper of your very own as a souvenir. Deh-sho paper was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
The Jungshi paper factory continues to preserve ancient culture of paper making in Bhutan.
With the opening of Textile Museum, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden, Bhutanese textile have reached new heights as one of the most visible distinct art form. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes - warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection.
The crowns of Bhutan's Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version of Royal Crown and other accessories used by members of Royal family can be found in the museum. The goal of the museum is to gradually become a center for textile studies that will carry out documentation, research and studies on Bhutanese textiles.
This vegetable market is located in Chubachu along the banks of Thimphu chhu. Is a bustling market where local vegetable vendors from all across the country have their stall open to sell their local produce. This market is open from Friday till Sunday from 9am till 5 pm.
Across the over in the other side of the river there is another weekly market that which has a variety of local textiles and casual garments for sale.
The Royal Botanical Park is located in Lampelri along the Thimphu Punakha Highway. It is the first botanical park in Bhutan and forms the backdrop of the Dochula Pass. The park forms a biological corridor of 47 square miles (120 km2) between the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park and the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park and has a popular botanical garden within it which is spread over an area of 125 acres (51 ha). The Garden has 46 species of rhododendron of which 18 species are native to the park while the other 26 species are brought from other regions of Bhutan and planted here. These bloom during mid-March to early August. The botanical garden of the park has within its limits the 108 stupas (chortens) at the Dochula Pass (3100m).The park was formally declared open in June 2008 to mark the anniversary of the Coronation of King Jigme Kesar Namgyel Wangchuk and centenary of Bhutan's monarchic rule.
The botanical park is situated between an elevation range of 2,100 metres (6,900 ft) and 3,750 metres (12,300 ft). Apart from the rhododendrons in the botanical park the other varieties of plants in the park consists of 115 species of ferns. Some of the other important trees are large oak, magnolia and birch. The park is also a popular bird watching area and 46 avifauna species have been identified.Some of the rare species reported are monal pheasants and blood pheasants (Ithaginis cruentus). There are 21 animal species identified in the park which includes musk deer, tiger, leopard, red panda and the leopard cat.
Apart from the rich diversity of flora and fauna the park also has biking trails, cafeterias, artificial lake and playground for children. It is a popular picnic spot among the Bhutanese and often attracts families on vacation.
The Annual rhododendron festival is held here to celebrate the beautiful and unique rhododendrons found only in the Himalayas. Showcasing different rhododendron species that are in full bloom by May, the three-day rhododendron festival celebrates the blossoms at the Lamperi botanical park. Initiated in 2013, the rhododendron festival is an annual event.
The annual rhododendron festival is organised by Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division under the agriculture ministry with support from Tourism Council of Bhutan and also involves the participation of the community and schools of Toeb, Dagala, Chang and Kawang gewog through a committee, Meto Pelri Tshogpa, Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators, and Guide Association of Bhutan, among others.
A nun is known as “anim” in Dzongkha and like any other monk, they dedicate their entire life to spirituality and Buddhism.
Perched on a promontory, overlooking picturesque TashichhoDzong and Golf course, it is the only nunnery in capital known as Zilukha Anim Dratsang, once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field. In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas.
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicines made up from medicinal plants abundant in the Kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around and view it from outside.
The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfills an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world.
This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue, 100,000 8 inch tall and 25,000 12 inch tall statues respectively. Each of these thousands of Buddhas has also been cast in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.
Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu at an elevation of 3100 meter. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snow-capped mountains forming a majestic view of the Himalayan range.
Dochula is also famous for the 108 chortens known as Druk wangyel Chortens. They are built on the hill top separating the road. Circumbulating these Chortens bring good luck and smooth ride for the travellers.
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) was built in honour of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appears to merge in the details of the Lhakhang 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.
Another popular attraction in this area is the Royal Botanical Park. It is a paradise for plant lovers and is an excellent place for special interest tours such as bird watching and photography. The rich plant diversity of this park attracts nature lovers from all across the country. There are biking trails within the park and children park as well. It is an ideal place for a weekend gateway for families and to enjoy a dry picnic with your loved ones.
The tower is located on a hill above zilukha or north east of Motithang. It provides you with an opportunity to enjoy and take photographs of Thimphu city. This is one of the favorite places that most Bhutanese frequent either for enjoying the view or for a relaxing drive. On a clear day you can see the ubiquitous prayer flags fluttering on the hills in the distance and the beautiful landscape of Thimphu valley. It is also popularly known as Sangaygang view point.