One of the culturally must-see places in Bhutan, Thimphu is the delightful capital city snuggled in the Himalayas with the gorgeous sights of the Chuu River flowing through it. Fascinatingly, it is the only city in the world with no traffic lights. Thimphu has reserved its culture and old world allure as modern development that can be closely monitored. It is very active during the day and the trendiest town in Bhutan. Thimphu has a relatively active nightlife with drayangs (bar with entertainers) and discotheques. If you want a taste of nightlife in Bhutan, Thimphu is just the place for you. Go for Bhutan Tour Plan and discover the top landmarks of Bhutanese capital. If you want to explore the beauty of Thimphu, there are a number of stunning places that will leave you spellbound.
Simtokha dzong houses countless statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rimpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and much more, all carved and painted in exquisite detail. Another interesting aspect of the dzong is that it contains the bed chambers of both Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel two of the most important figures in Bhutanese history.
One of the popular and biggest landmarks in Thimphu, the Tashichho Dzong stands tall 2 km away from the main town. It is the main secretariat building which houses the offices of the King and the Throne Room. The dzong has a beautiful rose garden. The central monastic body and some government ministries are also located in the dzong. It is the summer resident of the monk body, the winter being in Punakha Dzong.
National Textile Museum
The National Textile Museum displays a wide range of beautiful Bhutanese textiles including the attire and crowns used by the Monarchs and members of the Royal Family. Under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, the National Textile Museum was established in 2001. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes – achievements in textile arts, the role of textiles in religion, weft pattern weaves, warp pattern weaves, the royal collection, and textiles from indigenous fibers. You can find the crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version of Royal Crown and other accessories used by members of Royal family. It also introduces visitors to major weaving techniques and local style of dress.
The history of Bhutan lies engraved in archaic texts, which are conserved at the National Library. In addition to thousands of ancient texts and manuscripts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags. In this library, you can find several hundred years old literary treasures of Bhutan with an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly block-printed format. The library has texts relevant to Mahayana Buddhism and a rich collection of lithographs from whence scriptures and prayer flags were printed in the old days.
Built in the 13th century by Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo, Changangkha Lhakhang is situated on a small hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It is a fortress-like a temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu, south of Motithang. As it is considered as the spiritual home of the children born in Chang valley, children born in Thimphu are taken to this temple. The central statue here is Chenrezig in a manifestation with 11 heads. The central statue in the temple is Avaloketesvara, Buddha of compassion, in his manifestation with 11 heads, a thousand hands, and eyes; it is built with bronze and plated with gold. There is a fascinating view of Thimphu valley from temple courtyard.
Most of the Thimphu’s scant population and many valley dwellers assemble on the banks of the river where weekend market is held, every Saturday and Sunday. It provides an opportunity to socialize with the local people and it’s an interesting place to visit indeed.
Zangto Pelri Lhakhang
Built in the 1990s by the Late Dasho Aku Tongmi (who composed the national anthem), it is said to be a replica of Guru Rinpoche’s celestial abode. Zangthoo pelri possesses impressive murals and art treasures and worth a visit. The present structure was built in the 1960s. The site of the temple was a former battle ground, and the temple was built there in order to pacify energies.
In the 12th century, Tango monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa and the present building was built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley, the “Divine Madman”. It is said that Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Tango in 1616 and meditated in a cave near the monastery. His meditation helped safeguard the defeat of an attacking Tibetan army. A descendant of Lama Drukpa Kunley, the head Lama presented the goemba to Shabdrung, who imprinted a sandalwood statue of Chenrezig which he installed in the monastery. The striking three-storey tower and several surrounding buildings were constructed in the 18th century by the Druk Rabgye, eighth Desi and in the 19th century, Shabdrung Jigme Chhogyel added the golden roof.
It takes about 30 minutes’ drive and one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach Dochula. It is at an altitude of 3,050 meters above sea-level and it is the first high pass in the western region which is 23 kilometers from Thimphu on the way to Punakha. Marked by an array of prayer flags & 108 chortens, a panoramic view of the Bhutanese Himalayas can be seen from here on a clear day. The Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck built 108 chortens and the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang which are some of the main attractions there.
Simply Bhutan Museum
Built to offer a unique experience to its visitors, Simply Bhutan is an exclusive project under the simply Bhutan museum Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF). It is a studio and a living museum summarizing the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people. A distinctive feature of Simply Bhutan is that it fully operated by young people and job seekers, who receive here on the job training in basic business & management skills, customer care and other spheres of life. So, if you visit there, you are also helping to ‘make a better today’, ‘a brighter tomorrow’, for the youth of Bhutan.
Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory
You can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper using ancient traditional methods that have been practiced for generations. It is located approximately 1 km from Thimphu city. You can even try your hand at this ancient craft and make some paper of your very own as a souvenir. It also produces various other products, such as stationery and greeting cards.
National Institute for Zorig Chusum
Commonly known as ‘the painting school’, this institute operates 4 to 6-year courses that provide instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts. There you can see painted religious pictures, usually on canvas), furniture, thangkas, woodcarving, bowls, statues, masks, clothes, hangings, boots, or statue-making. The showroom sells good-value pieces made by students.
Folk Heritage Museum
Folk Heritage Museum is a sight of a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse and rural past with millstones more than 150 years old, traditional kitchen garden and hot stone bath. A three-storeyed building dating back to the mid-19th century is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of rural life. From ground to top floor, household objects, typical domestic tools, and equipment that would have been used by a family during that period are put on display.
National Memorial Chorten
The whitewashed Chorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu. Early morning is especially serene as elderly people shuffle in, and spruced-up kids on their way to school whiz in and out to pay homage. With its sun-catching golden finial, National Memorial Chorten is decorated with richly painted annexes facing the cardinal directions and features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular king. The most delightful thing is the dedicated group of old timers hauling away at room-size giant prayer wheels beside the main entrance. It was built in 1974 as a memorial to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–72).
Traditional Medicine Institute
Both allopathic and traditional medicines are given equal importance in Bhutan. The rich herbal medicines are prepared from medicinal plants plentiful in the Kingdom and dispensed here. This institute also provides training to the traditional medicine practitioners.
Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang)
You can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang) which is located at a short drive from Thimphu city center. This is the largest statue in the country, you can offer prayers to the Buddha and pay your obeisance.
Here, you can feel and see the great work of ancient Buddhist legends. Tandin Nye is built on a cliff about 1 km from the main town. It is said that there was a lake below the Lhakhang but now one can found only a marshy area.
Royal Botanical Park in Lamperi
Royal Botanical Park is a nature recreation and eco-tourism site. The park has more than 300 different species of medicinal plants and orchid conservation area. The park is home to more than 28 different species of Rhododendron. Mammals like musk deer, red panda, leopard, pheasants, and tigers are also there. A lot of things that you can explore here are trekking, make rounds on a boat, campsite and watershed site and watershed area. The park also organizes festivals and screens documentary to the public.
Cheri monastery is considered as a very holy place as it contains the remains of Tempi Nima, the father of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The first community of monks in Bhutan was established here. This monastery serves as the monastic school for the study of Buddhist Philosophy and other Buddhist studies.
The monastery itself is an open complex that comprises many holy buildings and relics and a State monastic school that currently houses just over 80 monks. Phajoding Monastery is a 3-hour hike from the nearest road, is located in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. It is home to many very sacred Buddhist artifacts.
Motithang Takin Preserve
It’s worthwhile taking the time to see these oddball mammals at Motithang Takin Preserve. A short distance up the road to the BBS tower viewpoint is a trail leading to a large fenced enclosure that was originally established as a zoo. The best time to see them is early morning when they gather near the fence to feed.
Snuggled among the wooded forest, Lungchuzekha monastery has exposed fences and colorful prayer flags. The welcoming smile of monks residing in Lungchuzekha Monastery with the appealing aroma of Bhutanese Incense creates the perfect spirit of serenity amongst the wooded forest of the mystical land of Bhutan. You can get a panoramic vista of snow-capped mountainous range of Bhutan from Lungchuzekha Monastery on a clear day. You can enjoy the astounding view of snow fortress Jhomolhari, Kang Bum and Gangchentta impending over the horizon. The tranquil ambiance and picturesque beauty of Lungchuzekha Monastery can be enjoyed throughout the year since Thimphu is blessed with a temperate weather but to witness the unhindered view of the surrounding mountain range.
Dechen Phodrang monastery
Dechen Phodrang monastery is one of the original dzongs of Bhutan and currently serves as a Monastic School where over four hundred monks are enrolled. The natural surroundings united with the architectural beauty of Monastery make it a remarkable experience. Built in the 12th century, it is situated high up among the clouds, north of the Thimphu city. The main attractions of this site are rare Bhutanese articles that it keeps and includes 12th-century paintings, observed by the UNESCO, as well as the striking statues of Sakyamuni Buddha and Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Pangri Zampa monastery
If you love clicking pictures, it’s a photogenic stop even if none of the chapels are open. This complex is a college for traditional astrology founded in the early 16th century. In 2008, a respected head astrologer was commended to divine the auspicious date for the king’s coronation. The two huge cypress trees in front of the complex are said to be the biggest in the country. This temple appeared in the vision that directed him from Tibet to Bhutan. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lived here after he arrived in 1616. The nearby Dechenphu Lhakhang is home to Gyenyen, the valley’s protective deity, and is off-limits to tourists.
This market offers genuine Bhutanese arts & crafts, organized on Tuesday and Wednesday in Centenary Farmer’s market. Craft Bazaar is under the support of Department of cottage & small industry and in collaboration with the department of culture, tourism council and the department of agriculture marketing and cooperatives. This market contributes in promotion, protection, and preservation of traditional arts.
Zilukha Nunnery is also called Drubthob Goemba, was built in 1980s, is a modern nunnery and houses some 50-60 nuns. You will get great view of Tashichhoe dzong from this monastery.
If you love hiking, then Hungtsho Goenba is a short and easy one of about 30 minutes. Hungtsho was used as refugee camp for Tibetans who fled Tibet during the occupation by communist China. The place in due course developed into a prosperous village. Built in 1525 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, it is a two story traditional Bhutanese building where the main alter room has an enormous statue of Guru Tshoki Dorji in a standing position together with a statue of Guru Dorji Drolo, Lama Ngawang Chhoegyal and Lama Drukpa Kuenley. So, the loop starts from Hungtsho village, above the road to Punakha, before Dochula, all the way to Hunggtsho Goenba. Then, about 10 minutes’ drive from Hungtsho village finally finishing at the immigration check post. The path has passing farm lands of potato fields, apple orchards, and vegetable gardens.
So, what are you waiting for? Go for Bhutan Tour Plan and discover the top landmarks of Bhutanese capital.
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