Bhutan is a picturesque Buddhist kingdom located on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. Bhutan is also interestingly known as the land of the “Thunder Dragon.” Bhutan offers one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world, from subtropical plains to steep mountainous regions and deep valleys. It’s no surprise then that Bhutan’s international airport has one of the most challenging runways to land aircraft.
When in Bhutan, Places to visit include the cities of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, and Pheuntsholing. Thimphu is one of the largest cities in Bhutan and lies in the western central part of Bhutan. It is also the capital city of Bhutan and hence, serves as the administrative seat of Bhutan. What makes Thimphu one of the most interesting cities in Bhutan is the wonderful juxtaposition of ancient tradition and modernity found within it: monasteries and traditional houses stand alongside modern shopping complexes and night clubs.
Blog post: Offbeat locations in Bhutan
We’ve picked out 5 places in Thimphu, Bhutan, that are worth visiting when in Bhutan. These places will give you an insight into the uniqueness of the arts and culture of Bhutan.
1. Glimpse at the unusual-looking takin at Motithang Takin Preserve (Bhutan)
We’ve all heard of the unusual-looking Takin found only in Bhutan. Some say it looks goat-like, while others describe it as a cross between goat and antelope. A famed biologist even described it as a “bee-stung moose.”
To see this unusual animal up close, make a visit to Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan. Mothithang Takin Preserve is a wildlife reserve area for takin, meant to preserve and look after these docile, domesticated creatures.
The reason for declaring Takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century.
Motithang Takin Preserve in Bhutan
Takins were initially kept in a mini zoo in Thimphu, Bhutan. However, the King of Bhutan felt that it was inappropriate for a Buddhist country to confine animals for religious and environmental reasons. The King of Bhutan then ordered the release of the takin. Due to the takin’s submissive behavior, the animals refrained from venturing into the nearby forest and instead went looking for food in the streets of Thimphu.
It was then decided to keep the animals in an enclosed, forested habitat at the edge of Thimphu, leading to the establishment of the takin preserve. An area of 3.4 hectares (8.4 acres) was demarcated and fenced for the preserve. Improvements were implemented in 2004, a collaborative effort of the Royal Government of Bhutan and World Wide Fund (Bhutan), including a traditionally styled entrance gate, a small information center, signage, and trash receptacles. The preserve also holds a few sambars and barking deer. There are plans to introduce other rarely seen animals of Bhutan such as the red panda and the Himalayan serow.
The best time to visit Motithang Takin Preserve is all year round. Visit timings: 9 am – 6 pm.
2. Tap into Bhutan’s history and culture at Simply Bhutan (Bhutan)
Simply Bhutan is a unique project with the aim to conserve the culture and traditions of Bhutan while generating employment opportunities for young job seekers. The infrastructure of Simply Bhutan portrays ancient Bhutanese architecture, which is being lost to modernization. The best part about Simply Bhutan is the portrayal of the age-old lifestyles of the people of Bhutan. On your visit, you will find many interesting things to see and buy from Simply Bhutan. At Simply Bhutan you can buy wooden items; there is one traditional restaurant inside Simply Bhutan where you get all the local cuisines. You can witness the folk dances of Bhutan inside the restaurant. You can also check out the equipment used by the ancient folk of Bhutan. This is a must-visit place in Thimphu, Bhutan.
The best time to visit Simply Bhutan is all year round. Summer visit timings: 9:00 am -5 pm. Winter visit timings: 10 am-4 pm.
Bhutanese girls in their traditional dresses
3. Buddha Dordenma statue (Bhutan)
A visit to Thimphu, Bhutan, is incomplete without a visit to see the Great Buddha Dordenma statue. This is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue in Thimphu, Bhutan. What is interesting about this statue is not just its gigantic size but what’s inside it. The statue houses over one hundred thousand smaller bronze Buddha statues gilded in gold, each of which, depicts the Great Buddha Dordenma itself. The Great Buddha Dordenma is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the thirteenth Desi Druk, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The completed work is one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at 169 feet (52 m), and contains 100,000 8-inch-tall and 25,000 12-inch-tall gilded bronze Buddhas. The Kuensel Phodrang nature park surrounds the Buddha Dordenma statue.
The best time to visit is all year round.