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The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
Places of Interest in THIMPHU
Also know 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. The Dzong houses, 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 Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.
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.
Five miles from Thimphu stands the 17th century Simtokha Dzong standing on a lofty ridge. Built in 1627, the oldest Dzong in the country, it now houses the School for Buddhist studies.
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.
This school teaches the techniques of traditional thangkha paintings. On a visit, one can see students at work producing intricate design on cloth.
Traditional Medicine Institute
The rich herbal medicines abundant in Kingdom are prepared here. The Institute also imparts the art of herbal medicines to would be practitioners.
The Textile and Folk Heritage Museum
Established in 2001, these are fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese living traditions reflecting Kingdom’s rich cultural heritage.
There are various Handicrafts Emporiums in town displaying a wide assortment of beautifully hand-woven and crafted products.
Every Saturday and Sunday most of Thimphu’s scant population and many valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river where weekend market is held. It is an interesting place to visit and provides opportunity to mingle with the local people.
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.
Excursions around THIMPHU
This monastery was founded by Lama gyalwa Lhanangpa in the 12th century and the present building was built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’, Lama Drukpa Kunley. In 1616 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Tango and meditated in a cave near the monastery. His meditation helped ensure the defeat of an invading Tibetan army. The head Lama, a descendent of Lama Drukpa Kunley presented the goemba to Shabdrung, who carved a sandalwood statue of Chenrezig which he installed in the monastery.
The picturesque three-storey tower and several surrounding buildings were built in the 18th century by the eighth Desi, Druk Rabgye and Shabdrung Jigme Chhogyel added the golden roof in the 19th century.
This monastery was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620. A silver chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of Shabdrung’s father. The goemba is situated about half an hour walk from Dodena (alt. 2,600m). The trail commences by crossing a lovely covered bridge that spans the Thimphu Chhun, then climbs steeply to the monastery.
It is a 5 km uphill walk from Motithang. The monastery was built in 15th century by Shagcha Rinchen who introduced the Drukpa Kagyupa school in Bhutan in the 13th century. It was one time one of the richest monasteries in the country.