Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan since 1955, lies at an elevation of 7,600 feet sprawling across the western slopes of the Wang Chhu river valley. The most developed and populated state of the country is the only capital after Pyongyang in North Korea where there are no traffic lights.
Thimphu features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate with mild summers and relatively cool winters.
Places of interest:
- Tashichho Dzong houses the throne room as well as the offices of the King of Bhutan, the Je-Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and other government offices. It is also the summer residence of the monastic body. The present Dzong was erected in 1968 around an older building, of which the central tower is a visible feature.
- Centenary Farmers Market is a lively weekend market located near the river.
- The Handicrafts Emporium displays a wide assortment of beautiful hand-woven and crafted products.
- The National Memorial Chorten, is a monument dedicated to the Third King of Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide rare insights into Buddhist philosophy.
- Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in the country was built in 1629. Today it houses the School for Buddhist Studies.
- The National Library built in 1967 contains a large collection of religious books and manuscripts in Dzongkha and Classical Tibetan along with a collection of other important books. Here one can also come across the largest published book in the world.
- The Buddha Dordenma statue is the largest Buddha statue in the world seated atop the Kuensel Phodrang Mountain, directly overlooking the city.
- The National Post Office is where the famous Bhutanese stamps can be found. It is common knowledge amongst stamp collectors worldwide that Bhutan was the first country to diversify and export quality stamps.
- The Clock Tower Square is a recently renovated square splat in the middle of the city. Fountains and traditional Bhutanese Mani Lhalhor (prayer wheels) add to making it a pleasant site to chill out in the evenings. It is also a common venue for hosting various public programmes and activities.
- The National Folk Heritage Museum provides a rare glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese ways of life within the setting of a traditional Bhutanese house. There are also Bhutanese dances and exhibits held inside the museum compound.
- The Institute of Traditional Medicine Services continues to nurture Bhutan’s reputation as ‘Lho Jong Men Jong’ or ‘Southern Land of Medicinal Herbs’ by continuing and promoting the age old healing practices.
- Dochula Druk Wangyel Chorten was built to commemorate the bravery of the Bhutanese forces who successfully managed to dispel the Indian insurgents who had illegally infiltrated the country in 2003. Besides the majestic view of the mountain ranges and the architectural grandeur of the monuments including the 108 chortens built in memory of those that lost their lives in the skirmishes, the newly initiated Druk Wangyel Festival is a must see for locals and visitors alike. The dance movements, the costumes and the unique setting are simply a superb and exclusive treat.
- Lingshi Dzong lies to the extreme north-west of Thimphu. Close to the Tibetan frontier it offers a majestic view of the perennial snow peaks. It was built by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (1208 – 1276) and enlarged in the 17th century by the third Druk Desi, Minjur Tempa.