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Thimphu at a glance

Thimphu is the most modern city in Bhutan with an abundance of restaurants, internet cafes, nightclubs and shopping centers, however it still retains its' cultural identity and values amidst the signs of modernization.Thimphu is one of the few towns in Bhutan that have been equipped with ATM banking facilities.

The city is spread out laterally in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Raidāk River, which is known as the Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu in Bhutan. Thimphu is the fourth highest capital in the world by altitude and is spread over an altitudinal range between 2,248 metres (7,375 feet) and 2,648 metres (8,688 feet).Unusually for a capital city, Thimphu is not served by an airport, but relies on the Paro Airport connected by road some 54 kilometres (34 miles) away.

Thimphu, as the political and economic center of Bhutan, has a dominant agricultural and livestock base, which contributes to 45% of the country's GNP. Tourism, though a contributor to the economy, is strictly regulated, maintaining a balance between the traditional, development and modernization. Thimphu contains most of the important political buildings in Bhutan, including the National Assembly of the newly formed parliamentary democracy and Dechencholing Palace, the official residence of the King, located to the north of the city. As a metropolis and capital city, Thimphu is coordinated by the "Thimphu Structure Plan", an Urban Development Plan which evolved in 1998 with the objective of protecting the fragile ecology of the valley. This development is ongoing with financial assistance from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and in the media. Tshechu is an important festival when mask dances, popularly known as Cham dances, are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu. It is a four-day festival held every year during autumn (September/October), on dates corresponding to the Bhutanese calendar.

Area Covers an area of 124,400 hectares.
Capital Thimphu is the largest city in Bhutan by population (62,500).
Population 62,500
Official Languages Tibeto-Burman
Boundary

thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, occupies a valley in the country’s western interior. In addition to being the government seat, the city is known for its Buddhist sites. The massive Tashichho Dzong is a fortified monastery and government palace with gold-leaf roofs. The Memorial Chorten, a whitewashed structure with a gold spire, is a revered Buddhist shrine dedicated to Bhutan’s third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Elevation: 2,334 m

  • Thimphu Tshechu Festival
    Thimphu Tshechu Festival

    The Thimphu Festival (Tsechu) is one of the grandest of Bhutan’s festivals and attracts the largest audience. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. The Thimphu Tsechu was established by the 4th Temporal Ruler, Tenzing Rabgye (1638-1696) in 1670. This festival also provides a great opportunity to witness locals gathered in their finest Gho’s and Kira’s in a celebration of their culture and faith. This tour also visits sacred sites in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.

  • Birth Anniversary Of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
    Birth Anniversary  Of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

    His Majesty the 5th King of Bhutan was born on 21st February 1980 and to mark this important day, people in every dzongkhag observe the day with various cultural programs.

  • Thimphu Dromchoe
    Thimphu Dromchoe

    Thimphu Dromchoe precedes the popular three-day Thimphu Tshechu. The Dromchoe showcases the sacred dances dedicated to the protecting deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo.

  • National Memorial Chorten
    National Memorial Chorten

    The National Memorial Chorten was built in memory of Third Druk Gyalpo and is dedicated to World Peace. The chorten is a large white structure crowned with a golden spire.

    It is located close to the center of Thimphu city and is one of its most iconic monuments. Visitors will find elderly Bhutanese people circumambulating the Chorten throughout the day. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’. The Chorten is an extraordinary example of Buddhist architecture and artwork with its gorgeous paintings and intricate sculptures.

  • Tashichho Dzong
    Tashichho Dzong

    Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby. 

    It was first constructed in 1216 A.D. by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa where Dechen Phodrang now stands above Thimphu. In 1641, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal acquired it but finding it too small, he built another one, known as the lower Dzong. The original dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and everything was moved to the lower dzong. The new building was later expanded several times over the years. It was damaged during an earthquake in 1897 and rebuilt in 1902. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated and enlarged over five years after he moved the capital to Thimphu in 1952 in traditional style using neither nails nor written plans.

    The dzong is located close to Thimphu town, next to the banks of the Wang Chhu River. It is an impressively large structure, surrounded by well-kept lawns and beautiful gardens. 

  • Thimphu Cuisine
    Thimphu Cuisine

    Taste the Unexpected. A culinary delight awaits discerning guests when they dine at the Le MeridienThimphu. Offering 02 restaurants - an all-day dining venue and a speciality restaurant - as well as a bar, discover a plethora of gastronomic delights, tantalizing cocktails, and culinary goodies prepared.

  • Kewa Datshi
    Kewa Datshi

    Kewa is potato, so kewa datshi is potatoes and Bhutanese cheese. It surprised me by how similar kewa datshi is to a dish similar to scalloped potatoes.

    The potatoes are typically sliced into thin pieces, then sautéed down with cheese and lots of butter. Sometimes cooks will toss in a few chilies or tomatoes, but usually, this is a Bhutanese dish that’s pretty mild, but just focuses on potatoes and cheese.

  • Shamu Datshi
    Shamu Datshi

    A third staple cheese dish in Bhutanese food is shamu datshi, cheese with mushrooms.

    Being a chili addict, ema datshi is my personal favorite variation of a Bhutanese veggie cheese dish, but shamu datshi was a close second. The mushrooms, which can be any variety of local Bhutanese Himalayan mushroom, are again, cooked into a cheesy saucy stew along with butter.

    Just like with all the other variations of Bhutanese datshi, you eat shamu datshi along with rice.

  • Traditional Bhutanese handicraft textiles
    Traditional Bhutanese handicraft textiles

    Bhutan and Nepal are full of traditional arts and crafts, and shopping for thangkas can be a highlight of a trip to the Himalayan nations.

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