Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, Capital city in the world, is a bustling town on the banks of its own river and set gloriously in the hills of its own valley. A regal town, Thimpu is home to the revered Bhutanese Royal family and to several Foreign mission and development projects.
On the bank of the river lies Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of his majesty the king of Bhutan. 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 JeKhenpo, makes its home in the Dzong. Visitors are strictly prohibited from entering the government building at all times during an active session. Next to the Dzong is Bhutan's only golf course. A nine-hole circuit that is far more picturesque than it is testing. The Thangka painting school in the heart of Thimpu is well worth visiting. With sun streaming through the windowpanes casting long shadows across the wooden slates, student monks in burgundy robes sit in the classroom for hours at time learning from saffron -robed elder Bhutan's National Library is located to the close to the painting school and is also worth a look in. Housed in the library are the some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion. A wonderful Day's outing from Thimpu is a visit to Cheri and Tango Monasteries to the north of the Town. They cab be reached by road but many Thimpu residents go up to the Monasteries for a day trip by foot. Thimpu charm is not an embedded in its wealth of galleries, museums or places of historic interest. Visitors must wander along the main street and into shops, all of which are decorated in traditional style. Thimphu's shopkeepers are delightfully helpful and will do their best to oblige even the smallest request. Bhutan's famous stamp collection can be viewed and purchased in the capital's main post office.
Every Saturday and Sunday most of Thimphu's scant population and many valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. The field adjacent to the market is reserved on weekends for basket ball and archery players. The later, if dressed with full costumes are a lovely sight.Five miles from Thimpu stands the 17th century Simtokha Dzong on a lofty ridge. Built in 1627, the oldest Dzong in the land houses the school from Buddhist studies. The road to Dorchula Pass and on to Easter Bhutan winds its way upwards from Simtokha Dzong.
• Area: 2,067
• Population: 78,195
• Latitude: 27ºN
• Longitude: 89ºE
• Language: Dzongkha
• Temperature: Max-30ºC; Min-4ºC
• Religion: Mahayan Buddhism
Thimphu does not have an airport. However, it is served by the only international airport of Bhutan at Paro, which is about 54 kilometers (34 mi) away by road. Druk Air had its headquarters in Thimphu but now there is only a branch office. Druk Air is the only airline flying into Bhutan and is a lifeline with the outside world for the Bhutanese people, also supports emerging inbound tourism and export markets.
The layout and position of the city roads in Thimpu are dictated by its unique topography. Most premier roads, typically wide, are aligned in a north-south direction, parallel to the river; the most important artery is the Norzin Lam (Lam - road/street).
Local Tourist Sites
Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion)
First built in 1661, the Dzong dominates the town of Thimphu. Except the central keep, the entire structure was rebuilt in 1961-62 and now houses the main government departments, the National Assembly, the throne room of the king, and summer headquarters of the Central Monastic Body.
Built in 1627, this Dzong is oldest in Thimphu and gateway to the Thimphu Valley. The Dzong houses Rigney School for Dzongkha and monastic studies. There are beautiful frescos and slate carvings in Simtokha.
Streets of Thimphu
The most enjoyable experience of being in Thimphu is to taking strolls around the streets here. Weekend markets of Thimphu sell everything under the sun that is being created in Bhutan. Hordes of villagers sell vegetables, newspapers, red chillies, traditional Bhutanese masks, and carpets.
The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan Texts. The traditional books are kept on the upper floor. These books are Tibetan-Style, printed or written on long strips of hand make paper stacked between peaces of wood and wrapped in silicon cloth. In another section of some wooden blocks that are used for printing books and Prayer Flags.
There is a collection of English language books and small collection of modern academic texts on the ground floor.Most of these is Buddhism and Himalayan History. An altar on the ground floor, with statues of Bhutan’s most important historic figures, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Pema Lingpa and Guru Rimpoche also contributes to the buildings sacred importance.
School of Arts & Crafts
The school of Arts & Crafts Commonly known as painting school offers an eight year course which provide instruction of many of Bhutan tradition arts to Boy throughout the countries whose aptitude is more artistic than academic. Its offers courses ranging from Painting, Wood carving, slate carving, Sculpture (Statue making), weaving to embroidery Recently the admission for girls too had been accepted and these are around 20 girls is learning the crafts of weaving, embroidery, sculpture and painting. Besides these artistic works they are thought to read and write English and Dzongkha language. All of them live in the Boarding House. There is a small showroom at the school that sells some of the student’s works.
This private chapel built in the 1990s by Dasho Aku Tongmi, a musician who composed Bhutan’s National Anthem is just south of the weekend market. It is the replica of the Guru Rimpoche’s celestial abode and Bhutan Tallest Lhakhang that houses many statues including a 4 meter high image of Guru Rimpoche. It is the only monastery which allows entry inside the Lhakhang. The individuals can donate any amount of money in the donation box for the well being all sentient beings.
left in the centre of the Thimpu city stand this colorful Chorten (Stupa) This large Tibetan style Chorten was built in 1974 to honour the memory of third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. There are numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statue inside reflecting both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. The memorial Chorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimpu and for many people it is the focused of their daily worship. Throughout the day people circumambulate the Chorten and worship at a small shrine just inside the gate.
The National stadium occupies the field where in 1885; a battle took place that helped the supremacy of Ugyen Wangchuck, Bhutans first King. It is now the site of the national archery ground a large football stadium cum Parade ground basketball, tennis and squash courts, as well as the headquarters of the Bhutan Olympic Committee.
Above the way to BBS tower, stop by to see a large fenced area that was originally established as a mini zoo The king decided that such a facility was not keeping the Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions, and it was disbanded some time ago, the animal were released into the wild but the taking were so tame that they wandered around the streets of Thimphu looking for food, and the only solution was to put them back into captivity. Enclosed “The Takin-Bhutan’s National animal”.
BBS Towers – Sangaygang
There is wonderful view of Thimphu valley from this point, which is at an elevation of 2685m high above the town.
Dochula pass at 3150m is marked by a large array of prayer flags and a Chorten. On the hill above the pass is a cafeteria that affords (on a clear day) a close-up view of the Bhutan Himalaya. There is a powerful binocular telescope in the cafeteria. A photograph on the wall above the telescope has the peaks labeled.
Thimphu offers a wide range of products to the tourists to take back home as souvenirs. Handicrafts Emporium in Thimphu has the best range of handicraft products in town though the prices are somewhat higher than in the local market. Look for papier-mâché masks, prayer wheels, decorative motifs, silk-screened handmade paper, rings and ornaments for clothing, and woven wool or silk clothe. Other important items that you can look for in the markets are precious stones and postage stamps (available at the General Post Office).