Unlike other cities of the world, the capital city of Bhutan draws your attention at the gateway itself with its unique yet impressive architectural designs of their houses. The intricate details and colourful paintings on the walls make it one of the most colourful cities in the world. The combination of both modern cosmopolitan and yet charmingly traditional outlook gives Thimphu a unique identity. Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Thimphu will surprise you with its cultural magnetism, social fabrics, contrasting lifestyle and welcoming nature of the humble Bhutanese people. A city which has the only traffic light in the country, where everyone wear their national dress, and the only capital in the world, which does not have an airport, Thimphu is surely one intriguing destination to explore in the kingdom of happiness. Here are some of the top places that one should not miss visiting in Thimphu.
Buddha Dordenma Statue
One of the iconic landmarks in Thimphu is the Buddha Dordenma Statue. This gigantic status is located atop a hill in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and it measures in at a height of 51.5 metres. The statue is the largest Buddha statue in the world. It houses thousands of small Buddha statues and they are also being made of bronze and gilded in gold. The throne where this massive Buddha Statue Dordenma sits upon, is a large meditation hall.
It has become the most prominent tourist spot in the capital, which also offers an uninterrupted view of the entire city.
Visit to Tashichhoe Dzongis is a must in Thimphu. Located on the bank of the Wangchhu River, surrounded by manicured lawns and gardens, this impressive structure houses the throne room and offices of the King, the Secretariat, the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. Known as “Fortress of the glorious religion”, Tashichhoe Dzong is also the headquarters for the central monastic body of Bhutan.
The Dzong is open only for an hour, i.e., from 5.30 to 6.30 pm for visitors. Since it is a high security zone, visitors are required to go through scanning before entering the premises. It is advisable to dress appropriately and pay respect to the religious and cultural sentiments of the country.
National Memorial Chorten
Another must visit place in Thimphu is the National Memorial Chorten. This impressive Chorten was built in 1974 to honor the memory of the third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Chorten means ‘Seat of Faith’. Mostly elderly people visit the Chorten to pray, meditate and meet each other.
The memorial Chorten is the most visible religious structure in Thimphu. It is also a place of daily worship for many. While visiting this Chorten, one should be extra cautious as not to disturb the locals who are meditating.
Authentic Handicraft Market
One of the most colourful alleys in Thimphu is certainly the authentic handicraft market. This is a must visit place for shopaholics. The traditional bamboo huts aligned neatly, below Norzin Lam, offer a wide range of Bhutanese art and craft products. Women are also found weaving in their looms in the shops itself.
From handmade papers, bags, paintings, traditional attires, products made of bamboo, Bhutanese currency to the famous traditional masks, it offers almost everything. It’s a great place to buy souvenirs.
Motithang Takin Preserve
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. This wired looking animal looks like as if the head of a goat has been fixed on the body of a cow. As the folklore says that once in the 15th century, the maverick monk Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the Divine Madman went to Bhutan to attend a large congregation of devotees, assembled there to have the blessings of a saint. During the event, Lama Drukpa Kunley became a matter of mockery due to his unorthodox and outrageous attitude. And that led him to prove his supreme power. During lunchtime, he ordered a whole cow and a goat which he devoured, leaving the head of the goat on the skeleton of the cow. He then hastily put the goat’s head with the cow’s bones and snapped his fingers to create this strange animal, whom he then commanded to gaze in the mountain slopes. And that’s how he created Takin and impressed the people with his miraculous powers. Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, is now one of the tourist attractions in the capital.
The National Folk Heritage Museum
Established in 2001, the National Folk Heritage Museum gives you a glimpse of traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. It houses the traditional rural household artifacts, tools, and a good collection of typical household objects. It has successfully introduced to its visitors the Bhutanese way of life by creating a rural set up inside. It has a restaurant, where you will get the best authentic Bhutanese cuisines.
They have a set menu for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian tourists that mainly includes Red rice, Butter Tea (Suja), Buckwheat pancake (khulee), Emma Datshi (The national Dish of Bhutan), Meat dishes, and spicy salad. Don’t forget to have Ara- the traditional alcoholic drink.
Pubs in Thimphu
If you wish to experience the night life of the capital city of Bhutan, you must pay a visit to a few pubs in Thimphu. I visited two of them during my stay. Unlike other metropolitan cities in the world, the scene inside the pub is pretty decent. Youngsters are found enjoying their drinks with the live band music. The craze for Bollywood music was evident in the music chart. Otherwise clad in their traditional attire, the Bhutanese youth come to Pub in their western clothing. Interestingly, everyone seemed to be known to everyone there.
The overwhelming response of the locals was something I still cherish from that night, especially when a few of them willingly joined us capturing a few happy moments that night. I had a blast dancing with my friends and locals in the pub.
My Trip to Bhutan was planned and sponsored by Bhutan Bookings.
Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the Writer is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.
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