Places to Visit in Thimphu
Thimphu is the capital city which occupies the western interior of the country. The rapid development in the area has its settlement still creeping fast towards all directions. It is the center of government, religion and commerce. Thimphu is an exciting city with rare blend of modern development with that of ancient traditions. Undergoing the massive development process, Thimphu has adapted to all types of possible changes. It is a home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
Places of interest in and around Thimphu
The chorten which means “seat of faith” is a white structure crowned with a golden spire. It 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 monument has paintings and statues inside in abundance which deliver a profound understanding of Buddhist philosophy. The most iconic monument of the city is centrally located and to the most easy access.
The National Library is located in Kawajangsa area in Thimphu. The library has extensive collection of archaic texts of history of Bhutan. The stock of books also includes Tibetan and Bhutanese manuscripts, xylographs and other religious books. There is also no dearth of the works of modern national and international authors.
Traditional Medicine Institute
In Bhutan herbal medicines are considered of great value solely because of its great healing testimony. The rich varieties of medicinal herbs plentiful in the country have been a great advantage for the purpose. 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.
Institute for Zorig Chusum
The Institute is commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School in the country. The Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The students here are given chance to specialize in areas like painting, wood carving, embroidery and statue making
This dzong, officially known asSangakZabdhonPhodrang, was built in 1627 byShabdrungNgawangNamgyal. It is located about % km south from Thimphu. Simtokhadzong is believed to be the first dzong built in Bhutan. It has the most significant artistic feature in this dzong. It has become the learning center for Language and Culture Studies. One would find sequences of over 300 superbly designed slate carvings and frescos in the courtyard.
The Folk Heritage Museum (PhelcheyToenkhyim)
The museum is located in the heart of Thimphu city. It was established in 2001mainly to dedicate to connect people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programmes and documentation of rural life. The museum mainly exhibits a restored three storey traditional rammed mud and timber house. The structureages back to the mid 19th century. The house is designed of an ordinary household in the Wang area then. One can see thatthe structure has endured its long years which determine the sturdiness and resilience of its being. The building displays the household stuffs, typical domestic tools andequipment that proved to have been used by a family long time ago.Lately the museum has also started plantation of some native trees and plants that used be there for various domestic purposes in the rural households.
National Textile Museum
The National Textile Museum was opened under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen AshiSangayChoden. Under Her Majesty’s guidance the Bhutanese textile have gained a new elevation. The hidden paragonon this area brought out a new face as one of the most distinct art form. The textile museum runs the exhibition mainly 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.
The dzong was built byZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal in 1641. Also called as “fortress of the glorious religion”, it was renovated to the present structure by the third King, Jigme DorjiWangchuk in 1965. The Dzong serves as the central government seat which consists of the main secretariat building and the throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. There is another modern building by the other side of the river which houses The National Assembly Hall. It is also a summer resident for the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo.
lately the city has been seeing increasing number of Handicraft shops flooded with products in varied. The government run souvenir Handicrafts Emporium is the oldest and the largest store which provides a wide assortment of colorful, hand woven textiles and other craft products.
The weekend Vegetable market is probably one of the most exciting and the busiest places to visit in the capital. If you are on lookout for any fresh fruits or vegetables there is never a disappointment here. The market also provides a wide variety of organic products straight from the villages. Every Saturday and Sunday this place becomes an area, not just of purchase and sale, but also a place of connecting, building and sharing community.
The Lhakhang is a temple and a monastic school rested on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. Lama PhajoDrugomShigpo, who came from Tibet, established the temple in 12th century on a site. The interior has the central statue of Chenrezig, from whom the renowned mantra “Om manipadme hung’’ emerged. The temple courtyard provides the enchanting sight of the main Thimphu town. The people mostly visit the temple for seeking blessings and names for the newborns. Most days the place is occupied with bustles of pilgrim activities of old and young.
Drubthob Goempa / Zilukha Nunnery
Zilukha nunnery is located just above Gaden Lam in the North of Thimphu. It is the only nunnery in capital which is also known with the name ZilukhaAnimDratsang. It is strongly believed that this site was once ownd by the DrubthobThang Thong Gyalpo qho was believed to possess various art skills. As you visit this place you will for sure be interested to interact with some of the nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.
Authentic Bhutanese Crafts Bazaar
An exhibition of traditional bamboo huts are arranged in series below Norzin Lam which lies opposite to Nehru Wangchuk Cultural Centre. Inclusive collection of authentic Bhutanese art and craft products are available here. The market comprises of 80 stalls covering all areas of handicrafts.The Department of cottage & small industry in collaboration with the department of culture, tourism council and the department of agriculture marketing and cooperatives, this market offers genuine Bhutanese arts & crafts thus contributing in promotion, protection and preservation of traditional arts.
Simply Bhutan Museum
Simply Bhutan is a living museum and a photo studio that will take you to the real miniature life in Bhutan. It mainly aims at preservation and promotion of custom and tradition of Bhutan. It also focuses on crating job market for the rising number of youth today in the country. The fund generated here is utilized to aid the disadvantaged youth under Youth Development Fund.
Buddha Point (KuenselPhodrang)
The tallest Buddha image sits tall on the hill top, KuenselPhodrang, overlooking the Thimphu valley. This was built to commemorate the centenary and the coronation of the fifth king, His Majesty, King Jigme KhesarNamgyal Wangchuck. The Buddha point (KuenselPhodrang) is a very short drive uphill from the main Thimphu city. Thousands of people from inside and outside come here to pay their obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country. You would also love to leisure around along enjoying the view of beautiful Thimphu from the place.
Junghi Handmade Paper Factory
Junghi Paper factory was established in 1990.It was here that paper-making skill was long nurtured in Bhutan for centuries. Itenterprises two units. The one in Thimphu produces traditional handmade paper from natural plants mainly from ‘Daphne’ plant species which is insect-resistant. The other one is in Jimina, 22 km from the centre Thimphu town which recycles waste papers. Visitors don’t leave the chance of enjoying the whole process of paper making here. The traditional handmade papers are widely used for religious scripts, packing materials, hand-carry bags, lampshades, envelopes, calendars. The paper looks a lot like Japanese washi, and in fact a lot of Bhutanese paper is exported to Japan also.
The present structure was built in 1960s and although lacking the charm of many of the older temples, Zangthoopelri still possesses some impressive murals and art treasures and is worthy of a visit. The site of the temple was a former battle ground, and the temple was constructed there in order to pacify energies.
Excursions around Thimphu Valley
initially, the original monastery was founded by Lama GyalwaLhanangpa in the 12th century. Later, the present building was remodeled by Lama DrukpaKunley who is wll known by the popular name, “Divine Madman”. In 1616 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Tango and meditated in aneighbouring cave. This helped the Bhutanese to overthrow the entering 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.
Today the monastery serves as a university of Buddhist studies . It also functions as the residence of GyalseRimpochhe , the reincarnation of the fourth Desi, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye.
The monastery is situated to the north of Thimphu. The drive takes about 30 minutes and one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach the monastery.
Cheri Goempa was the first ever monastery establishd by ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal in 1620.It issited at the northern end of the Thimphu valley which is about 15 kilometers from the capital. It takes aboutan hour walk up to the steep hill from a settlement called Dodena.
It is believed thatShabdrung spent many years meditating in this monastery. Cheri today has numerous hermitages and small temples located on its slopes, commanding spectacular views. A silver chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of Shabdrung’s father.
It is one of the most renowned monasteries in Bhutan. It is located above 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 in the past.
The park is located on the banks of the river Wangchhu ,near the city stadium. It was created to commemorate a century of of monarchical rule in Bhutan. It was also to mark the ascension of the fifth king of the country. This area contains about 5.6 acres of parkland offering a pleasant and relaxing environment. It is the best surrounding to spend the quality time with friends, family or alone.
Tandin Nye is the sacred lhakhang which is about 1 km from the main town. It is set on a cliff similar to the Tiger’s Nest in Paro. The visit to the temples provides an opportunity to feel and see the great work of ancient Buddhist legends.The legend also says that there used to be a lake below the lhakhang long time ago.
It is anfascinating three to four hours round trip walk around Dochula pass. It offerscaptivating view of Bhutan Himalayas. The road encircles Dochula pass which consists of 108 chortens and a mani wall and ascends gradually intothe forest. The forest opens to white, red and pink rhododendron plants. The walk is of about one and a half hour with some verticalsections as it branches left to Lungchuzekha Goemba. This daytrip stretchesto the serenity of the beautiful deep forest, spectacular mountain sights and the monastery.
Takin Preserve, Motithang
The national animal of Bhutan is Takin. The animal resembles both cow and goat. But it is also more akin to sheep than other animals. The local Legend attributes the creation of takin to the great Buddhist yogi, DrupaKunley. it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas. The place is a wild life reserve mainly for takin. Initially it was a mini zoo and converted into a preserve understanding the need for the animals to inhabit the surrounding forest freely.
Botanical Gardens, Serbithang
The garden is set on luxurious hummock which is about 15km from the city. The garden contains the plants bearing the records of names of people who collected it, from where and when it was collected. The area has a peaceful and calming environment anyone would love to spend sometimes here.
Sangay Gang Hill
Sangay Gang is a hillock which is a viewpoint overlooking the vast spread of Thimphu valley. It is the view point and in fact the finest place for photographers.