Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, is a place to experience royal life as well as the developing sections of Bhutan. This bustling little city, situated in the western central of Bhutan, is the main centre of commerce, religion, and government in Bhutan. You can find restaurants, cafes, internet cafes, nightclubs, and shopping arcades here. Amidst these modern structures, Thimphu also retains its rich cultural heritage in its palaces and other places. As opposed to the other towns in Bhutan where ATM facilities are limited, Thimphu is well equipped with ATM facilities throughout the city.
Roads in Bhutan
An interesting feature of this place is that the city does not have traffic lights. Instead, policemen on small pavilions can be seen directing traffic. The roads are usually empty, but it’s opposite during the ‘peak hours’.
Traffic in Bhutan
Among the different main cities of Bhutan, Thimphu offers a perfect juxtaposition of old world charm and the hustle bustle of a new commercial exuberance. Crimson-robed monks and traditionally decked government officials and locals add to Thimphu’s charm.
Monks in Bhutan
You could spend some time in the Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan’s third king, His Late Majesty Dorji Wangchuk, who is also regarded as the Father of modern Bhutan. You will be mesmerised to witness the vast Buddhist philosophy depicted in the paintings and statues here. The Simthokha Dzong is where a series of 300 finely worked slate carvings feature in the courtyard.
Memorial Chorten, Bhutan
Take time to explore the National Library where you can find ancient manuscripts. The Arts and Crafts School or Painting School or locally called the Institute for Zorig Chusum boasts about Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. You will be surprised to witness the level of cleanliness inside the Traditional Medicinal Institute complex. Though it is not open for visitors, paying a visit to just have a sneak peek into the lush campus will be a treat.
The Bhutanese distinct art form is now portrayed in different textiles at the National Textile museum under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Chiden. You can get an idea about the different Bhutanese patterns and weaves that have been famous since ages in Bhutan.
Another famous place to visit in Thimphu,Bhutan is Tashichho Dzong or the ‘fortress of the glorious religion’ originally built in 1614. This Buddhist monastery and fortress lies on the northern edge of Thimphu, Bhutan.
Every weekend sees a congregation of the locals at the weekend bazaar that sells kind of knick-knack. Every Tuesday and Wednesday the locals throng to the Craft Bazaar at the Centenary Farmer’s Market. You could pick genuine pieces of things that are rich with Bhutanese culture. The Junghi handmade paper factory is a perfect destination to study the different handmade papers and the process of converting the pulp to its saleable form. It is 22 kms from Thimphu town. A lot of these papers are exported to Japan as well. Get an exquisite view from Buddha Point or Kuensel Phodrang.
Also read about: (Places to visit in Bhutan)
The Simply Bhutan Museum under the Bhutan Youth Development Fund offers a unique experience to its visitors. This living museum is operated by young people and job seekers and features Bhutanese living traditions. Tango Goemba is a monastery founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa in the 12th century, and the present structure was built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley who is also famously known in Bhutan as the ‘Divine Madman’. This picturesque 3-storey tower and the complex house a sandalwood carved statue of Chenrezig and rhododendron forests. Other monasteries that you could visit here are the Cheri Goemba, Phajoding Goemba, and Lungchuzekha Goemba. Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, is a cross between a cow and a goat and can be only spotted in and around Bhutan. Legend has it that the takin was created by the great Buddhist monk Drupa Kunley. Make sure you spot it at the Takin Preserve, Motithang (Motithang is a north-western suburb of Thimphu, Bhutan). You could also spend some hours strolling around Coronation Park.
Local Market in Bhutan
Festivals celebrated in Thimphu, Bhutan
1. Tshechu festival
Coming to the festivals of Thimphu(capital of Bhutan), Tshechu is a religious festival meaning "tenth day" of the lunar calendar held annually in various temples, monasteries, and dzongs throughout the country. Religious mask dance forms, food, and costumes constitute different forms of entertainment. Bhutanese believe that everyone must witness a Tshechu and the mask dance once in their lifetime to seek blessings and wash away their sins. The Paro and the Thimpu Tschechu’s are among the popular ones in the country.
2. Nimalung festival
In the Nimalung festival, the monastery is decorated with murals of the Nyingmapa and Drukpa traditions, paintings of Guru Rimpoche and his disciples, the lineage of Terton Pema Lingpa, and several Buddhist masters affiliated with the monastery. Nimalung Lhakhang is located in Chumey in Bumthang. It is approximately a 15-minute drive from the road that branches off from the village of Chumey.
3. Nomad festival
This annual festival is appropriate if you don’t like to set your feet at a place. It is held in Bumthang Dzongkhag (district) in central Bhutan, the spiritual heartland of the country. Bumthang is approximately an 8-hour drive from the capital city. This festival gives a glimpse of communities who have been the original habitants and have survived unchanged. You also find the best local cuisine of Bhutan during this festival.
4. Sakteng festival
Sakteng festival celebrated by the Brokpas is a 3-day annual festival. The entire valley comes together to offer prayers and seek blessings from their deities. The rare Yak dance and the Ache Lhamo dance are performed during this festival. These dances are the quintessential features of the Brokpa culture and are quite distinctive from the usual mask dances seen in other parts in the country of Bhutan.
5. Takin festival
The Takin festival is the only time to witness the country’s national animal takin. This endangered species across the world has a small population in the country. You don’t want to miss this opportunity at the Jigme Dorji National park.