Landscape of bhutan

Where is Bhutan and Discovering Thimphu: The Land of Happiness

Author: TG Contributor
Date: 2020-01-07

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Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, is a bustling little city situated in the western central of Bhutan. It 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, monasteries, and other places. As opposed to the other towns in Bhutan where ATM facilities are limited, Thimphu is well equipped throughout the city.

Among the different main cities of Bhutan, Thimphu offers a perfect juxtaposition of old-world charm and new commercial exuberance. Crimson-robed monks and traditionally attired government officials and locals add to Thimphu’s charm.

Roads in BhutanRoads in Bhutan

7 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BHUTAN

- Bhutan is one of the 3 carbon-negative countries in the world

- There are no traffic lights in Bhutan

- Gross National Happiness (GNH) is considered more important than GDP

- Only 8 pilots are qualified to fly to Paro Airport

- Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, is a peculiar cross between a goat and antelope

- Bhutan introduced TV only in 1999

- The Bhutanese have to wear the traditional dress of Bhutan to schools, official buildings, and on formal occasions.

There are many more but we’ll let you discover them on your own when you get there. Bhutan tour packages

Traffic in BhutanTraffic in Bhutan

PLACES TO SEE IN THIMPHU

1) National Library

Take time to explore the National Library where you can find ancient manuscripts. The Arts and Crafts School or Painting School (locally called the Institute for Zorig Chusum) boasts of 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 at the lush campus is a treat.

2) National Textile Museum

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 for ages in Bhutan.

3) Memorial Chorten

Spend time at 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

Memorial Chorten, Bhutan

4) Tashichho Dzong

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 lie on the northern edge of Thimphu, Bhutan.

5) Junghi Handmade Paper Factory

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. The factory is situated 22 km from Thimphu town. A lot of these papers are exported to Japan as well. 

6) Buddha Point or Kuensel Phodrang

Buddha Point or Kuensel Phodrang is where the Buddha Dordenma statue is situated. The 60 m bronze gold-gilded statue is of Sakyamuni Buddha, and there are 125,000 smaller statues placed within it.  

Read: Places to visit for the soul-seeker

7) Local markets

Every weekend sees a congregation of locals at the weekend bazaar that sells knick-knacks. Every Tuesday and Wednesday the locals throng Craft Bazaar at the Centenary Farmer’s Market. You can pick genuine pieces of items that are endeared in Bhutanese culture. 

Local Market in BhutanLocal Market in Bhutan

8) Simply Bhutan Museum 

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. 

9) Tango Goemba

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. 

10) Takin Preserve 

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). 


Takin Preserve, Motithang

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 Thimphu Tschechu’s are among the popular ones in the country.

2. Nimalung Festival

During 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 in 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 that have been the original inhabitants 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 of the country of Bhutan.