Top 11 Places to Visit in Thimphu
Thimphu became the capital city of Bhutan in the year 1961.Thimphu can be considered the most modern town well
balanced with its own Bhutanese tradition and culture. Thimphu town is an exciting place for visitors. The town houses are built in traditional style and the people are friendly and helpful. Thimphu has changed much over the years but there are still no traffic lights and this will remain long as one of the world’s most pristine capital cities. Thimphu also has Bhutan’s only golf course – a nine-hole circuit that is popular with the residents. Thimphu is also an ideal place for day walks.
1. Tashichho Dzong:
The Tashichho dzong is the most prominent landmark situated near the Wang Chu River and it houses the Golden Throne Room of the King of Bhutan. During the summer months, the monk body led by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong. The Dzong was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. It is open to visitors during the Thimphu Tsechu in autumn and while the monk body is
resident in its winter quarters in Punakha.
2. National Memorial Chorten:
The building of this Chorten was originally the idea of Bhutan’s 3rd King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the father of modern Bhutan”), who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity, but was unable to do. After His Majesty’s untimely death in 1972, the Royal Family and Cabinet resolved to fulfill his wishes and erect a memorial that would perpetuate his memory and also serve as a monument to peace. The National Memorial
Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974. The finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues within the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. It is a popular spiritual center for many locals who come to circumambulate and offer their prayers. Blessings are organized from revered Lamas or Rimpoches every once in a while.
3. Semtokha Dzong:
This Dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, stands on a low ridge 8 km. down the valley from Thimphu. The Institute for Language and Culture Studies is located here. The most artistic feature of this Dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
4. National Library:
The National Library was established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which
form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature
mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old. There is also a small Foreign Books Collection, stock of which mainly comprises works written in English, with subject interest on Buddhist studies, Bhutan, the Himalayan region and neighboring countries. The largest book in the world about Bhutan is on display.
5. Institute for Zorig Chusum:
Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
6. National Institute of Traditional Medicine:
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 the outside.
7. Folk Heritage & National Textile Museums:
These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Many agricultural tools and household utilities used in the olden days are on display.
8. Handicrafts Shops:
A wide assortment of colorful, hand woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at
the many Handicraft shops in town. There is the Craft Bazaar in the heart of the city where visitors can
buy souvenirs at a bargained price.
9. Weekend Market:
Situated on the bank of the Wangchu (Thimphu River), this weekend market was renamed as the Centennial Farmers Market. Locals come flock here every Friday through Sunday to buy their farm fresh vegetables. A wide range of agricultural produce and other food products from Thimphu and other parts of the country are brought here for trading. A variety of local arts and crafts are sold on the other side of the river.
A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people and perhaps buy souvenirs.
10. Tango Cheri Monastery:
Cheri monastery, 15 km drive north of Thimphu is the seat of the first monastic body in Bhutan. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built it in 1620. It is situated at an altitude of 2,600 meters on a steep mountain slope. The hike up to the monastery will take about 45 minutes along a well-maintained bridle path, through the forests full of rhododendron trees.
11. Phajoding Monastery:
A three-hour uphill walk from Thimphu. The effort is rewarded with a stunning view over Thimphu City and surrounding valleys and a good example of Bhutanese flora. There hundreds of young resident monks pursuing Buddhist studies, senior monks meditate around the area.