Thimphu

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Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan since 1961, which has a population of approximately 100,000 people. It is the largest town in Bhutan and is situated at 2,320 metres above sea-level.

Thimphu is the home to the Kings and Royal family members, civil servants, expatriates, politicians, business people and monks. It is a unique city with interesting combination of traditions and modernization.

One of the places of interest is Memorial Chorten, which is a stupa built in 1974, in the memory of Bhutan’s third King, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. He was popularly regarded as the Father of modern Bhutan.

Thimphu Tsechu is a major event of Thimphu that drawing thousands of Bhutanese and tourists to view this festival. One of the main attractions of this Tsechu is the Wang Zhey which is an indigenous folk dance performed by both monks and common men with traditionally designed colourful masks, accompanies by the beats of drums and cymbals. This festival is a fine show of wholesome Bhutanese culture and tradition.

The festival will be held in Trashichoe Dzong, which is also known as the fortress of glorious religion. It is first built in 1641 and it houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan.

The National Library of Bhutan houses the history of Bhutan, which are in old manuscripts and ancient texts. Some of these literatures are few hundred years old. Visitors might want to take the opportunity to see the world biggest book, which is stationed on the ground floor of the National Library.

Near to the National Library is the School of Traditional Arts, where the Bhutanese Thangka painting, wood carving, sculpture, appliqué and metal work are taught.

The Government-run Handicrafts Emporium and many small handicrafts shops are found in the town. One can pick up a variety of items to bring back home as souvenirs.

Tango Goemba (monastery) is another place with a lot of religious significance, which is 12 km north of Thimphu. An hour hike is necessary. On the way, you will be amazed by a giant impressive painting of Guru Padmasambhava on a rock.

Originally, the site was the home to Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (a Tibetan lama from Kham, Eastern Tibet) who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan in the 12th century. In the 15th century, Drukpa Kunley (“The Divine Madman”) built the monastery.

Today, Tango Goemba is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country, where every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) must completed the 9 year program here. We can also visit Cheri Goemba, which is the mediation place for monks for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. Currently, it is the home of a 15 year old boy who believed to be the seventh reincarnation of the 4th Desi (ruler) of Bhutan. Another highlight of Tango Goemba is the prayer session by the monks, who pray together in their best robes.

Other places of interest include :

  • Centenary Farmers’ Market – very popular with Bhutanese, which is held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at this market, which runs from Wednesday till Monday evening.
  • Changangkha Temple – perched on a ridge overlooking Thimphu Valley. It was established in the 12th century by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo who came from Tibet. From the temple’s courtyard, you will have a magnificent view of Thimphu Valley.
  • Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) – another place where you can have a good view of Thimphu Valley. The largest statue of the Buddha in Bhutan is situated here.
  • National Textile Museum – this museum has substantial collection of antique textile artifacts which includes the Royal Collection, warp pattern weaves and textiles from indigenous fibers.
  • Takin Preserve – houses the national animal of Bhutan, Takin. According to legend, this animal was created by the “Divine Madman”, Lama Drupa Kunley. He used his magical powers to create an animal with a goat’s head and the body of the cow.