Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan since 1960, lies at an elevation of over 7600 feet in a fertile valley of the Bhutan Himalayas . Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building, houses all the ministries, the National Assembly hall, the Office of the King, Office of Prime Minister, and the Throne room and Supreme Court. It is also the Summer Residence of the Monk Body and the Religious chief, the Jey Khenpo. Tashichho Dzong is the centre of administration and also the summer residence of the monastic order. The annual Thimphu Tsechu is held in its courtyard. The other significant structure is the SAARC Secretariat, which houses the National Assembly. Thimphu town, although small, is nonetheless a vibrant place. The Handicrafts Emporium, displaying the best of Bhutanese textiles and souvenirs, and the Memorable Chorten, dedicated to the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, are places to Visit.
Monuments to visit in Thimphu
- Changangkha Monastery: This monastery was built in 15th century by the Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo where the new born child of Thimphu valley is taken to receive first blessing from a High Lama.
- National Memorial Chorten : This Chorten was built (1974) in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. Built in a typical Tibetan style, there are numerous religious paintings and the complex tantric statues reflecting both the peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities. This Chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu.
- Dupthop Lhakhang : One of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan .
- Cheri Monastery: Hike about 2 hours’ leds to Cheri Goemba (Cheri Dorji Dhen). The trail starts by crossing a lovely covered bridge that spans the Wang Chu, and then climbs steeps to the monastery. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this monastery in 1620 and established the first monk body here. Silver Chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of Shabdrung father.
- Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion): In 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanampa built Doom (Blue Stone) Dzong on the hill above Thimphu where Dechen Phodrang now stands. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu line age to Bhutan , took over Dohon Dzong. In 1641 the Shabdrung (The one who unified the country) acquired the Dzong from the descendants of Lama Phajo and renamed it as Trashi Chhoe Dzong. He then arranged to house both monks and civil officials in the same Dzong. Present it is a seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan ).
- Tango Monastery: Hike about an hour and this monastery was found by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in 12th century. In 1616 Shabdrung came from the Tibet and meditated in the cave.
- Dechen Phodrang: At the end of Gaden Lam is Dechen Phodrang.
- Pangri Zampa: Two imposing white building in a grove of giant cypress trees. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lived here after he arrived in 1616 because this temple appeared in the vision that directed him from Tibet to Bhutan .
- Simtokha Dzong: Simtokha Dzong is about 5Km south of Thimphu above the old road to Paro and Phuntsholing. Officially known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang (Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras), it was built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Institutions to Visit in Thimphu
- Painting School: Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls).We can visit in different class rooms, where different students follows a comprehensive course that starts with drawing and progresses through painting, wood and slate curving, and statue making.
- National Library: Stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts.
- Traditional Medicine Institute: where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices.
- Folk Heritage Museum :
- National Textile Museum : Thimphu’s National Textile Museum is worth a leisurely visit to get to know the living national art of weaving.
Places to visit in Thimphu
- Sangay gang view point: (2685 meters) to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill over looking the Thimphu valley.
- Mini Zoo : where Taken, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region and the head of this animal looks like that of a goat and body of a cow/yak.