Thimphu (/tɪmˈpuː/; Dzongkha: ཐིམ་ཕུ [tʰimpʰu];
formerly spelled as Thimbu or Thimpu) is the capital and largest
city of the Kingdom of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central
Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's
Thimphu District. The ancient capital city of Punakha
was replaced by
Thimphu when it was established as capital in 1955,
and in 1961
Thimphu was declared as the capital of the Kingdom of
Bhutan by His Majesty the 3rd
Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
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
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
2 Geography and climate
4 Urban structure
4.1.4 Hospital Area
4.2 City planning
4.3 Urban expansion
5.1 Other attractions
7 Government and civic administration
7.1 Civic administration
7.2 Civic amenities
7.2.1 Water supply and sanitation
8 Law and order
9 Health care
10.1 Arts and crafts
14 Twin towns – sister cities
17 See also
19 Further reading
20 External links
Further information: History of Bhutan
View of Tashichoedzong, Thimbu. The 17th-century fortress-monastery,
located on the northern edge of the city, has been the seat of
Bhutan's government since 1952.
Thimphu consisted of a group of hamlets scattered across
the valley including Motithang, Changangkha, Changlimithang,
Langchupakha, and Taba, some of which constitute districts of the city
today (see below for district details). In 1885, a battle was held
at what is now the Changlimithang sports ground in Thimphu. The
decisive victory opened the way for Ugyen Wangchuck, the first King of
Bhutan to virtually control the whole country. Since this time the
sports ground has been of major importance to the city; football,
cricket matches and archery competitions take place there. The modern
Changlimithang Stadium was built on the site in 1974. Under the
Wangchu Dynasty, the country enjoyed peace and progress under
successive reformist monarchs. The third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck,
reformed the old pseudo-feudal systems by abolishing serfdom,
redistributing land, and reforming taxation. He also introduced many
executive, legislative, and judiciary reforms. Reforms continued and
in 1952 the decision was made to shift the capital from the ancient
Punakha to Thimphu. The fourth king, Jigme Singye
Wangchuck, opened the country for development and
India provided the
needed impetus in this process with financial and other forms of
assistance. In 1961,
Thimphu officially became the capital of Bhutan.
Bhutan joined the
Colombo Plan in 1962, the
Universal Postal Union
Universal Postal Union in
1969 and became a member of the
United Nations in 1971. The presence
of diplomatic missions and international funding organizations in
Thimphu resulted in rapid expansion of
Thimphu as a
5th King of the
House of Wangchuck
House of Wangchuck of
Bhutan – Jigme Khesar Namgyel
The fourth king, who had established the National Assembly in 1953,
devolved all executive powers to a council of ministers elected by the
people in 1998. He introduced a system of voting no confidence in the
king, which empowered the parliament to remove the monarch. The
National Constitution Committee in
Thimphu started drafting the
Constitution of the Kingdom of
Bhutan in 2001. In 2005, the fourth
Bhutan announced his decision to hand over the reins of his
kingdom to his son Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. The
coronation of the king was held in
Thimphu at the refurbished
Changlimithang Stadium and coincided with the centenary of the
establishment of the House of Wangchuck. In 2008, this
paved way for the transition from absolute monarchic rule to a
parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy, with
Thimphu as the
headquarters of the new government, with the national defined
objective of achieving "Gross National Happiness" (GNH) concomitant
with the growth of Gross National Product (GNP).
Geography and climate
Astronaut view of Thimphu
Thimphu is situated in the constricted, linear valley of the Raidāk
River, which is also known as the
Thimphu River (Thimpu Chuu). While
the surrounding hills are in an altitudinal range of 2,000 to
3,800 metres (6,562–12,467 feet) (warm temperate climate between
2,000 to 3,000 metres (6,562–9,843 feet) and cold temperate
zone between 3,000–3,800 metres (9,843–12,467 feet)), the city
itself has an altitude range varying between 2,248 metres (7,375 feet)
and 2,648 metres (8,688 feet). It is these two variations in altitude
and climate which determine the habitable zones and vegetation
typology for the valley. The valley, however, is thinly-forested and
is spread out to the north and west. At the southern end of the city,
the Lungten Zampa bridge connects the east and west banks of the Wang
Chuu which flows through the heart of city.
Left: View of
Thimphu from the southeast. Right: the Raidāk River
Raidāk River raises in the snow fields at an altitude of about
7,000 metres (23,000 ft). It has many tributaries that flow from
the Himalayan peaks that largely dictate the topography of the Thimphu
Thimphu valley, so formed, is delimited by a steep eastern
ridge that rises from the riverbed and a valley formation with
gradually sloping topography, extending from Dechencholing and
Simtokha, on the western banks of the Raidāk. The north-south
orientation of the hill ranges of the valley means that they are
exposed to moist monsoon winds which engulf the inner
its lower valleys. However, the windward and leeward sides of the hill
ranges have different vegetation patterns depending on the varying
rainfall incidence in the two sides.
Thimphu valley lying in the
leeward side of the mountains is comparatively dry and contains a
different type of vegetation as compared to the windward side. Hence,
the coniferous vegetation in the valley is attributed to this
phenomenon. Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, is on the windward
side with broad-leaved trees dominating the topography.
A night view of
Tashichho Dzong during snowfall.
The city experiences a southwest monsoon-influenced Subtropical
highland climate (Cwb) of a warm, temperate climate. The southwest
monsoon rainfall occurs during mid-June to September. Lightning and
thunder often precedes rainfall in the region with cumulonimbus clouds
and light showers dominating the weather. Continuous rainfall
for several days occurs resulting in landslides and blockage of roads.
Streams and rivers swell up carrying huge amounts of debris from
forests. Deep puddles, thick mud, and landslides along roads form
barriers to transportation. Cold winds, low temperatures at night, and
moderate temperatures during the day, cloudiness, light showers and
snowfall mark winter weather in this zone. Fog causes poor visibility,
which poses a threat to vehicular traffic in the city. As spring
approaches, the landscape is marked by violent winds and relatively
dry and clear skies.
Thimphu experiences a wet season, which runs from May through
September and a dry season that covers the remainder of the year.
Rainfall in the valley varies between 500 millimetres (20 in) and
1,000 millimetres (39 in) per year, the bulk of which is received
during the monsoonal wet season. The average temperature recorded
during winter varies between 5–15 °C (41–59 °F) while
in summer the variation is between 15–30 °C
(59–86 °F). The coldest average (minimum)
temperature in January is −2.6 °C (27.3 °F) and the
average highest temperature recorded during August is 25 °C
Climate data for Thimphu, Bhutan
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Source: Weatherbase [better source needed]
According to the census of 31 May 2005, the population of the city was
79,185 with a density of 3,029 per square kilometre
(7,850/sq mi), with 92,929 over an area of 1,843 square
kilometres (712 sq mi) in the entire district ; the
corresponding figure projected in 2010 for the district was
104,200. In 2011, the city's population was about 91,000.
Changangkha is a western central district, located between the
Chubachu centre and
Motithang to the west. It contains the Changangkha
Lhakhang. Changangkha Temple is one of the oldest temples in the
Thimphu valley, founded by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, founder of the Drukpa
Lineage in Bhutan, and extended by his son Nyima in the 13th
century. The temple houses a statue of Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara
as well as very large prayer wheels and unusually large size sacred
scriptures. The temple was restored in 1998-99. An incense factory
is also located in Changangkha named Poe Nado.
Changzamthok is a southern district from the main centre, bordered by
Hospital Area to the west, by Gongphel Lam and the Wang Chuu river
to the east.
Panoramic view of Thimphu, Bhutan
Chubachu is the central district. It is bounded by the
to the north, the Wang Chuu River to the east and Changangkha and
Motithang to the west. A weekend market is held on the western
bank of the Wang Chu. To the west lies the Norzin Lam road which
Chubachu from Motithang. This road contains the
Museum and the National Library of Bhutan. The central road of the
district is called Yanden Lam. The eastern road of the district is
Chogyal Lam which runs northwest-southeast along the banks of the Wang
Hospital Area is a central district of Thimphu. Located south of
the Memorial Chorten, it contains the central roundabout, JDWR
Hospital and the Royal
Police national headquarters. The
Gongphel Lam road divides it from Changzamthok District.
Jungshina is a northern district. It contains the Wangduetse
DDC Office in Kawajangsa
Kawangjangsa (or Kawajangsa) is a western district, north of
Motithang, and north of the
Chubachu River. The Institute of
Traditional Medicine, Institute for Zorig Chusum, the National Library
of Bhutan, the
Folk Heritage Museum
Folk Heritage Museum and the
Bhutan Telecom Offices are
located in Kawajangsa. The
World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has
its Bhutanese headquarters here; it has been responsible for
facilitating tiger conservation in Bhutan.
Thimphu from the southern part of Langjupakha in the
northeastern part of the city.
Langjupakha is a northeastern district of Thimphu. Located on the
eastern bank of the Wang Chuu it contains the Royal Banquet Hall,
SAARC building and National Assembly and Centre for Bhutan
The SAARCC building in
Thimphu was initially built for the purpose of
holding the SAARC (South East Asia Association for Regional
Cooperation) conference, in the early 1990s. It is located across the
Wang Chuu River opposite to the Tashechho Dzong. This elegant
structure is built in a fusion of Bhutanese and modern architecture
with high tech facilities. It presently houses the Ministries of
Planning and Foreign Affairs. The National Assembly, which used to
meet in the Tashechhoe
Dzong until 1993, is now held in this building
in an elaborately decorated assembly hall at the end of two long
decorated corridors. The National Assembly meets here twice a year.
The banquet hall is also close by.
Motithang is a north-western district of Thimphu. The
divides the district from Kawajangsa further north and Chubachu
district lies to the east.
Meaning "the meadow of pearls", the area only developed as a
residential area in the 1980s, following the initial establishment of
Motithang Hotel in 1974, on the occasion of the coronation of
Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the time, the hotel was located in the
middle of forest, separated from the city by farmland but today this
area has grown up with houses and gardens.
Aside from the
Motithang Hotel, the district contains several notable
state guest houses such as the Kungacholing and Lhundupling, Rapten
Apartments and the Amankora Thimphu. It also contains the National
Commission for Cultural Affairs, a
UNICEF station and several grocery
stores, including the Lhatshog supermarket. Schools include
Motithang Higher Secondary School and Jigme Namgyal School. Other
buildings in Mottithang are the Royal Bodyguard Camp and the Youth
There is also a notable takin wildlife sanctuary in the district,
Sangyegang is a western district, north of the
Chubachu River but
south of Zilukha. It contains the Sangyegang Telecom Tower and a golf
course to the east which expands north in the Zilukha part of the
Looking across the river towards the main town from Yangchenphug
Yangchenphug is an eastern district, located across the Wang Chu River
from the city centre and contains the Lungten Zampa Middle School and
Yangchenphug High School. The main road is Dechen Lam which
follows the line of the river and connects the district to Zamazingka
in the south.
Zamazingka is an eastern district, located across the Wang Chu River
from the city centre. The main road is Dechen Lam, which follows the
line of the river and connects the district to
Yangchenphug in the
north and eventually leads to Paro to the south.
Zilukha is a northern district, located between Jungshina to the north
and Sangyegang to the south. It contains the Drubthob Gonpa/Zilukha
Nunnery once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong
Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field. In the early
15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the
Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas. The place also has a great
view of the majestic, Tashi Chhoe
Dzong (Fortress of Glorious
Religion) and government cottages nearby. A golf course spans much of
the district flanking the lower eastern part.
Thimphu was selected to be the capital of
Bhutan in 1952 but was not
officially established as capital of
Bhutan until 1961. It was then a
hamlet of a few houses built, around the Tashichhoe Dzong. The city
has expanded slowly over the years along river banks and on high
ground. Lower plains along the river have also been occupied. It was
only after the country was opened for foreign visitors that it grew
Thimphu is now[when?] a city of 91,000 people. The city has
all civic amenities such as well planned wide roads with traffic
police controlling the traffic, banks, hotels and restaurants,
institutions of arts, culture, media, sports and also the traditional
dzongs, monasteries and chortens. Consequently, a boom in property
Thimphu has been reported.
The residential area of the city constitutes 38.3% of the total area.
In the non-residential area, 9.3% of the city consists of
administrative buildings, 4% of commercial establishments, 10.1% is
taken up by health, educational or institutional structures, 2% by
industrial establishments and 3.8% by security. The remaining
32.5% of the city constitutes dispersed open spaces with vacant lands,
which need to be preserved in any future planning and expansion.
Shops in the lower market of Thimphu.
Thimphu Structure Plan is a modern urban development plan for the
Thimphu city, evolved in 1998, with the objective of protecting the
fragile ecology of the valley, including its rivers and forests. This
planning was necessitated due to growth of automobiles and pressure on
the public health infrastructure in the town centre, restrictions
imposed on plot coverage and building heights. The plan was approved
by the Council of Ministers in 2003. An elected body, the Thimphu
Municipal Corporation, is implementing the plan, drawn up by the
American architect Christopher Charles Benninger. This plan is
estimated to cost more than $1 billion when completed. Funds for
implementation of the plan are being provided by the
World Bank and
the Asian Development Bank. There are some disputed areas between land
owners and stakeholders, which has resulted in the
World Bank and the
Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank requesting the Ministry of Works and Human
Settlement (MOWHS) to resolve the issues through a process of the
agreement, before further funds are released.
The clear planning concepts that have been established within the
'Structured Plan' are: the Tashichheo Dzong, Wang Chuu and the
streams, Green Hills and their Forest cover, monasteries, temples,
chortens and prayer flags, the urban core, urban villages and the
urban corridor. The southern entrance of the city at Simtokha Dzong
anchors the city limits with the Northern and Western limits of the
Wang Chuu Valley.
Under a current development plan for 2027, much of the city will be
car-free pedestrian zones filled with arcaded walkways, plazas,
courtyards, cafes, and exhibitions, with automobile traffic confined
to the edges of the city. Parks and footpaths will be developed along
riverfronts, and no construction will be allowed within 30 metres (98
feet) of a river or stream. City planners also announced that the rule
that buildings be constructed to reflect traditional Bhutanese
architecture, which was often violated in the past, would be enforced
more strictly. Many of the economic activities that take place in the
city, along with military and police infrastructure, would be moved.
It is expected that by this time, the city's population will have
increased to 162,000.
Urban expansion in Thimphu
Over the last 50 years, since its establishment as the capital of
Thimphu has witnessed expansion, initially at a slow pace,
then rapidly after the country was opened up to the outside world in
1974 during the Coronation of the fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck
when international media were present, and which marked Bhutan's
"debut appearance on the world stage." Broadly, the city's natural
systems are under three categories namely, the natural (forest, bush
cover, river, and watersheds), agricultural (orchards, rice paddies,
grazing lands) and recreational (public open space, parks,
The urban expansion has seen a structured development plan for
2027. The buildings will continue to be built to retain
ancient Bhutanese culture and architectural styles but with a measured
and modulated blend of modern development, meeting requirements of
national and civic administration and all basic civic amenities such
as roads, water supply and drainage, hospitals, schools and colleges,
electricity, media centres and so forth. The monuments or buildings of
note are the sprawling Tashichho Dzong, built like a fortress, which
is the centre of Bhutanese administration as well as monastic centre,
Memorial Chorten, Thimphu
Memorial Chorten, Thimphu and the National Assembly of the newly
formed parliamentary democracy within the Monarchic rule. The Palace
of the King located to the north of the city, called the Dechencholing
Palace, the official residence of the King, is an impressive structure
that provides a grand aerial view of the city.
Rapid expansion following the pattern of rural exodus has resulted in
considerable rebuilding in the city centre and mushrooming of suburban
development elsewhere. Norzin Lam, the recently upgraded main
thoroughfare, is lined with shops, restaurants, retail arcades and
Within the core area of the city, there is a mix of apartment blocks,
small family homes and family-owned stores. By regulation, all
buildings are required to be designed in traditional style with
Buddhist paintings and motifs. A lively weekend market near the river
supplies meat, vegetables and tourist items. Most of the city's
limited light industry is located south of the main bridge. Thimphu
has a growing number of commercial services and offices, which provide
for ever-growing local needs.
Left: A typical Bhutanese roof design. Right: Hotel interior -Blend of
Traditional and Modern Bhutan.
The traditional architectural monuments in Thimphu, as in the rest of
Bhutan, are of typical Bhutanese architecture of monasteries, dzongs
(most striking fortress type structures), chortens, gateways,
Lhakhangs, other sacred places and royal palaces, which are the most
distinctive architectural forms of Bhutan. Prayer Flags, Mani Walls
and Prayer Wheels present a propitious setting throughout the urban
agglomerate of Thimphu. The most prominent architecturally elegant,
traditional Bhutanese building structures in
Thimphu are the Tashichho
Dzong, Drubthob Goemba (now the Zilluka nunnery), Tango Goempa or
Cheri Goempa, the Memorial Chorten, Thimphu, Dechen Phodrang, and
Changangkha Lhakhang, all vintage monuments with rich
Typical Bhutanese decorated entrance door.
These are further sanctified by the recent additions to the
architectural excellence of buildings, a fusion of the traditional and
modern architecture which are mostly post 1962, after
the Capital of
Bhutan and opened up for tourism under various Five
Year Developmental Plans. The buildings under this category are the
National Institute for Zorig Chusum, National Library, National
Assembly cum SAARC Building, National Institute for Traditional
Medicine, National Textile Museum, Voluntary Artists Studio, Royal
Academy of Performing Arts, Telecom Tower and many more. The
residential buildings in
Thimphu have also undergone change in their
construction methods without sacrificing the traditional Bhutanese
designs said to be "reminiscent of Swiss Chatels."
Full view of Tashichhoe Dzong, Thimpu.
Inside view of Tashichhoe Dzong.
The most prominent landmark in
Thimphu is the Tashichho Dzong
(meaning: "Fortress of the Glorious Religion") located on the west
bank of the Wang Chuu. The imposing white washed structure, as seen
now, has undergone several renovations over the centuries following
fires and earthquakes. Subsequent to introduction of the Drukpa Kargyu
lineage by Lama Phajo and Zhabdrung acquiring the
Dzong in 1641, the
Dzong was renamed as Tashichhoe Dzong. During this time the practice
of using a
Dzong both as a religious centre for lamas and
administrative centre for civic administration was introduced. Apart
from the throne room and offices of the King of Bhutan, as an
administrative building, it houses the Central Secretariat, the
offices of the ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. The National
Assembly, which used to be located in the
Dzong is now in a separate
building called the SAARC building.
Simtokha Dzong, known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang (Palace of the
Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras), is said to be the oldest
surviving fortress cum monastery established in 1629 by Zhabdrung
Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan. It was attacked several times in
the 17th century but survived and was refurbished repeatedly. It is a
small dzong (only 60 metres (200 ft) square with gate on the
southern direction), located about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the
south of Thimphu. It now houses one of the premier
learning institutes, namely "The Institute for Language and Culture
Studies". Both monks and common people study here. Students who
graduate from this school primarily become
Dechen Phodrang Monastery
Dechen Phrodrang means "Palace of Great Bliss". It is a Buddhist
monastery located to the north of Thimphu. The
Dzong located at the
end of Gaden Lam was originally the site of Thimphu's original
Tashichhoe Dzong. In 1971, it was converted into a monastic school
with 450 student monks enrolled for eight-year courses. It has a staff
of 15. The monastery contains a number of important historical
Bhutanese artifacts including 12th century paintings monitored by
UNESCO and a noted statue of Namgyal on the upper floor. In
the downstairs chapel, there is a central
(བདེ་ཆེན་ཆོས་གླིང་, Wylie: bde chen
chos gling) is located to the northern end of the
Thimphu valley on
the east bank of the
Thimphu Chuu. It was the residence of the late
Royal Grandmother, popularly known as Gayum Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck.
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born here on 11 November 1955, but
currently makes his residence at the
Samteling Palace (Royal
Tango Monastery in Thimphu.
Tango Monastery is located to the north of
Thimphu near Cheri
Mountain. It was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 13th century
and built in its present form by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal Ruler
in 1688. According to local legend, the location of this monastery is
the holy place where
Avalokiteshvara revealed himself as "the
self-emanated form of the Wrathful Hayagriva". The location had been
prophesised in Tibet. In 1616, the Tibetan Shabdrung Ngawang
Namgyal meditated in its cave. The self-emanated form of the wrathful
Hayagriva is deified in the monastery. It belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu
Buddhism in Bhutan. The word 'Tango' in Bhutanese language
means "horse head". This name conforms to the main deity Hayagriva
(local name Tandin) deified in the monastery.
Tango Monastery is built in the dzong fashion, and has a curved
(semi-circular) outside wall and prominent main tower with recesses.
It covers the caves where originally meditation and miracles were
performed by saints from the 12th century onwards. Behind
the series of prayer wheels are engraved slates. Inside the courtyard
is a gallery, illustrating the leaders of the Drukpa Kagyupa
Cheri Monastery or Cheri Goempa to the north of Thimphu.
Cheri Monastery, also called Chagri Dorjeden Monastery, was
established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal; the first monastery
established by him at a young age of 27. Zhabdrung spent three years
in strict retreat at Chagri and resided there for many periods
throughout the rest of his life. It was at Chagri in 1623 that he
established the first
Drukpa Kagyu monastic order in Bhutan. The
monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat centre of the
Drukpa Kagyu order, is located at the northern end of Thimphu
Valley, about 15 kilometres (9 mi) from the capital. It sits on a
hill above the end of the road at Dodeyna and it takes about an hour's
walk up the steep hill to reach the monastery from there. According to
Bhutanese religious histories, the place was first visited by
Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century, it was visited
by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, the Tibetan Lama who first established the
Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan. There is a silver chorten inside the
monastery that enshrines the ashes of Zhabdrung's father.
Buddha Dordenma statue
Buddha Dordenma is a bronze statue, a 'Vajra Throne' Buddha, that
is under construction amidst the ruins of
Thimphu city, about 100 metres (330 ft) above the
Wang Chuu river bed. This location was the palace of Sherab Wangchuck,
the 13th Desi Druk. It is a gigantic
Buddha statue under
construction. The statue will house over one lakh (one hundred
Buddha statues, each of which, like the Buddha
Dordenma itself, will be made of bronze and gilded in gold. Upon
completion, it will be one of the largest
Buddha rupas in the world,
at a height of 51.5 metres (169 ft). The statue alone is being
built at a cost of US$47 million, by Aerosun Corporation of Nanjing,
China, while the total cost of the
Buddha Dordenma Project is well
over US$100 million. The interior will accommodate 100,000 8-inch-tall
(20 cm) and 25,000 12-inch-tall (30 cm) gilded Buddhas
respectively. It is planned to be completed by October 2010. Apart
from commemorating the centennial of the Bhutanese monarchy, it
fulfils two prophecies. In the 20th century, the renowned yogi Sonam
Zangpo prophesied that a large statue of either Padmasambhava, Buddha
or of a phurba would be built in the region "to bestow blessings,
peace and happiness on the whole world". Additionally the statue is
mentioned in the ancient terma of Guru
Padmasambhava himself, said to
date from approximately the 8th century, and recovered some 800 years
ago by terton Pema Lingpa.
The Memorial Chorten, Thimpu
The Memorial Chorten, also known as the '
Thimphu Chorten', is a
Thimphu located on Doeboom Lam in the southern-central part
of the city near the main roundabout and Indian Military Hospital. The
chorten that dominates the skyline of
Thimphu was built in 1974 to
honour the 3rd King of Bhutan,
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–1972).
This prominent landmark in the city has golden spires and
bells. In 2008, it underwent extensive renovation. This chorten
is popularly known as "the most visible religious landmark in
Bhutan". It was consecrated by the Late Dudjom Rimpoche. This
chorten is unlike other chortens as it does not enshrine the mortal
remains of the late King. Only the King's photo in a ceremonial dress
adorns a hall in the ground floor. The King, when he was alive,
wanted to build "a chorten to represent the mind of the Buddha".
It is designed as a Tibetan style chorten, also called as the Jangchup
Chorten, patterned on the design of a classical stupa, with a
pyramidal pillar crowned by a crescent of Moon and Sun. The feature
that is distinct here is the outward flaring of the rounded part to
give the shape of a vase, rather than a dome shape. The
chorten depicts larger than life size images of tantric deities, with
some 36 of them in erotic poses.
There are several other attractions in
Thimphu such as the National
Post Office, the Clock Tower Square and the
(an erstwhile Zoo).
National Post Office
The National Post Office, located in the north wing of a large
building on the Dremton Lam (Drentoen Lam), is where the famous
Bhutan's Philatelic Bureau sells stamps and souvenir sheets of Bhutan
stamps. In view of their colourful presentation and limited issue,
stamp collectors all over the world know that
Bhutan is the first
country to diversify and export quality stamps; particularly, 3D
stamps are collectors items. Old stamps are now sold for profit. An
agency in New York sells to the collectors and it is also locally
printed by the Government of Bhutan.
Clock Tower Square
Clock Tower square, below Nordzin Lam, Thimphu.
The Clock Tower Square is a recently renovated square surrounded by
shops and restaurants. Fountains and traditional Bhutanese Mani or
prayer wheels make the place more comfortable. On one side, the
luxurious Druk Hotel is situated. Various programmes and activities
are held here. It was also the check point for the SAARC Car
Takin Preserve in
Thimphu is a wildlife reserve area for
National Animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was
converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals
refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free.
The reason for declaring the takin as a
National Animal of
25 November 2005 (Budorcas taxicolor) is attributed to a legend of the
animal's creation in
Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley.
The King of
Bhutan believed that it was improper for a Buddhist
country to confine animals for religious and environmental reasons, so
he ordered the closure of the mini-zoo and the release of the animals
into the forest. However, the
Takin remained rooted to the town and
were seen straying in the streets of
Thimphu in search of fodder.
Hence, an exclusive preserve was created for them to live
Further information: Economy of
Bhutan and Bhutanese ngultrum
Inside a shop in Thimphu.
Thimphu is the political and economic centre of
Bhutan and the
location of the central government.
Local market in Thimphu.
A morning market is held on the central square during weekends. These
are the only days when the residents of
Thimphu can buy fresh fruit
and vegetables. The inhabitants rely on the supermarkets for other
provisions throughout the week. The market also sells yak butter,
cheese, wooden bowls and fabrics. A number of cheap souvenirs from
Nepal are also sold at the market. Behind the open market, several
shops sell Chinese and Bangladeshi crockery, appliances, shoes, silks
and carpets. For many years merchants would come to the central
square from all over
Bhutan and market their goods and would sleep in
the open air. However, in 1986, platforms were erected and in 1989
covered market halls were built over the platforms. A special building
for meat products was constructed on the north side of the market. In
2006, the handicrafts section was moved to the new stalls on the other
side of the new bridge, built in the traditional style in 2005.
The Loden Foundation, Bhutan's first registered charity, has been
Thimphu since 2007. It is run by a board of trustees composed
of prominent citizens, and the foundation has a working team in the
United Kingdom (UK). The organisation was established to support
education and promote learning and entrepreneurship in
other Himalayan areas and to promote Bhutanese culture and religion in
other parts of the world.
Bhutan was opened up for tourism in 1974, the
Government-owned Tourism Corporation was set up in
encourage and organise individual and group tours to destinations of
cultural importance in Bhutan, concentrating on Buddhism, weaving,
birds, nature and trekking, and any special package. This organization
was privatised in 1994 and named as
Bhutan Tourism Development
Corporation. The corporation also owns and manages hotels and tourist
lodges at all major tourist centres in Bhutan. It has its own fleet of
cars and also interpreters in several international languages to cater
to tourists of various denominations.
Bhutan Kitchen. Right: Hotel Dragon Roots.
Thimphu does not have a vibrant night life but the number of
nightclubs and pool rooms for young people is growing quickly. Of
note is the Om Bar which attracts a number of the Bhutanese elite and
expatriates who dine and discuss their business ventures there.
The Plum's restaurant is frequented by civil servants. Other
nightclubs and pool rooms include the Buzz Lounge, the Space 34
nightclub and the pool venues 4 Degrees and the Zone.
Streetlife in Thimphu
The main street, Norzim Lam, contains a number of shops and small
hotels and restaurants. The
Bhutan Textile Museum, the National
Library, the Peling Hotel, Wangchuck Hotel, the Chang Lam Plaza, the
Art Cafe, the Khamsa Cafe, the Swiss Bakery, Yeedzin Guest House, the
Mid-Point South Indian restaurant, the Benez restaurant, the Bhutan
Kitchen and the sports field are buildings of note around this street
area. Other notable hotels in the area include the elegant Druk
Hotel, Druk Sherig Guesthouse,
Hotel Jumolhari (noted for its Indian
cuisine), Hotel Dragon Roots (established in 2004) and Hotel Senge.
Near the main square is a clock, decorated with dragons, which is now
an open-air theatre site and art and craft stores and the Tashi
supermarket. In the building in front of the old cinema there is a
Chinese restaurant and trekking stores. Some of the grocery stores
such as Sharchopa are noted for their cheeses, namely Bumthang and
The Drentoen Lam street is located off the main street and contains
the post office and bank and administrative buildings and several
music stores. Doebum Lam road runs parallel to the main Norzim Lam and
also contains the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Tourism and the
Ministry of Trade buildings and the odd bakery. In 2006, a new
shopping district opened between Doebum Lam and Norzim Lam which
includes the Zangdopelri shopping complex, the Phuntsho Pelri Hotel
and Seasons, an Italian restaurant.
Government and civic administration
As the capital of Bhutan, most of the important political institutions
in the country are based in Thimphu, including the embassies and the
National Assembly of Bhutan. The National Assembly has 47 members, who
were elected in the first ever general elections on March 24, 2008.
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa Party won a landslide victory,
securing 45 seats. The People's Democratic Party won the other
two, but its leader
Sangay Ngedup lost the election in his
The Civic Administration of
Thimphu city is the responsibility of the
Thimphu Municipal Corporation (TMC). It was established in 1995
through a royal decree. It became an autonomous corporation in 1999,
following the enactment of the Municipal Act of 1999. Its headquarters
is at the Lungtenzampa zone of Thimphu. The corporation is headed by a
mayor (currently Dasho Nima Wangdi) who is called Thrompon in the
Bhutanese language. The mayor is appointed by the Ministry of Works
and Human Settlement (MoWHS). An executive committee comprising 17
members governs the corporation; 8 members are elected from 6 zones
and 7 members are nominated from government organizations and meet
nearly every 6 weeks. However, its capacity to deal with the
problems is hindered by lack of adequate staff (without any
proportionate increase in staff strength to deal with its large
jurisdiction) and its expenditure far outstrips the revenue
earned. In order to provide cost effective services, the
Corporation (as the regulating body) has contemplated privatization of
public services, particularly water supply, solid waste, sewerage and
Thimphu metropolitan area has all the basic amenities. Further
additions and improvements have been planned and are under
implementation, as part of the ‘
Thimphu Structured Plan’. Water
Supply, sanitation and health care have been fully addressed.
Water supply and sanitation
Service-oriented municipal corporations have been established in the
two biggest urban centres in
Thimphu and Phuentsholing.
Thimphu Municipal Corporation (TMC) is the service organization that
has the mandate for executing urban water supply and sanitation
Thimphu city. TMC is an autonomous ‘Civic Body’
under the municipal charter granted in 2003, as per the Bhutan
Municipal Act of 1999. However, the overall responsibility to
formulate strategies and policies for human settlement in the country
rests with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement of the central
government, as the nodal agency, with its subordinate Department of
Urban Development and Engineering Services made responsible for
executing urban water supply and sanitation programmes.
Access to potable water is available to 90% of the population in
Thimphu, though water supply is intermittent, attributed to leakage
and high consumer demand.
Conventional piped sewerage with lagoon treatment has been installed
in the core areas of
Thimphu with coverage of about 70%. However, the
urban sanitation issues that have been flagged for action are: to
ensure provision of flush toilets or latrines with proper septic tanks
and soak pits in all new houses; dismantling VIP latrines and long
drop toilets; to provide piped sewerage and wastewater treatment
plants in all urban areas, allocation of funds for piped sewerage and
treatment plant and awareness campaign on basic sanitation.
Thimphu also has an organised waste collection and disposal system.
However, the quantum of waste generation in the city, which has about
6,982 households and 1,000 institutions, was projected to double in
the period 2000-2010. At present, the solid waste disposal is at the
sanitary landfill site, which may become inadequate soon. This problem
is intended to be addressed by minimizing waste generation and
adopting proper waste segregation methods.
Law and order
A traffic policeman at a circle on
Law and order in
Thimphu and in the country as a whole are the
responsibility of the Royal
Police (RBP), a national police
branch of the armed forces, established in
Thimphu in September 1965
when 555 personnel were reassigned from the Royal
Bhutan Army. The
organization is responsible for law and order, traffic control, and
crime prevention. In 1988, a fingerprint bureau was
established in Thimphu, for which a female second lieutenant received
Bhutan became a member of
Interpol on 19
September 2005; since then,
Interpol has maintained a National Central
Bureau at RBP headquarters in Thimphu.
The RBP is headed by a chief of police who is under the control of the
Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. He is assisted by a deputy
chief of police. The headquarters of the RBP is located in the capital
Thimphu and is divided into three branches directly under the
chief of police. The RBP has grouped districts into "ranges,"
which are under the administrative control of range police officers. A
district police officer heads the police force in a district. There
are a number of police stations, outposts, and checkpoints in a
district; the highest-ranking officer is usually designated the
officer in charge of that particular area.
Thimphu district and the
city fall under Range I. Recruits are trained at the police
training centres in Zilnon, Namgyeling–Thimphu, Jigmeling–Gelephu,
Main article: Health in Bhutan
National Referral Hospital (Thimphu)
National Referral Hospital (Thimphu) and Royal
Institute of Health Sciences (Bhutan)
Basic health facilities are provided free of any charge to all
citizens in Bhutan. There are no private practitioners
operating any clinics anywhere in
Thimphu or Bhutan. Every citizen
is treated free of any charge including foreign tourists needing
medical care. The health care centre established in
Thimphu is the
National Referral Hospital. 'Traditional Medicine' is also in vogue
and the "Institute of Traditional Medicine" has been set up in Thimphu
to promote this widely practiced herbal medical cure in rural areas of
National Referral Hospital
The National Referral Hospital (full name Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
National Referral Hospital) in
Thimphu was established in 1972 and is
the main hospital in Bhutan. The National Referral Hospital provides
free basic medical treatment as well as advanced surgeries and
emergency services to citizens from all over the country. The
hospital provides sophisticated health evaluation and management
services in the country and has facilities of CT and MRI diagnosis
equipment and improved lab services. The hospital has a library with
many current textbooks. The hospital is one of five medical
service centres within Thimphu. The others are: two Indian hospitals
(DANTAK hospital at Semtokha and IMTRAT hospital in the main town),
the BHU in Dechencholing and the Outreach Clinic in Motithang.
Institute of Traditional Medicine
The Institute of Traditional Medicine was set up in 1979 with
World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO) to develop and
popularise Bhutanese herbal medicine, which has been used by the rural
Bhutan for many centuries. The Institute is located on a
hill promontory above the Thimpu town. It is a semi-wooden structure
built colourfully like a "Manor House". Traditionally, Bhutanese
medicine has been influenced by traditional
Tibetan medicine and also
some aspects of Indian medicine, particularly the "Three Humors of
bile, wind and phlegm" that "dictates the state of our physical and
spiritual health." The Institute is well manned by scientists who
claim that they have now developed a "mixture of five herbs that could
"possess spermogenitic powers" (a kind of a herbal viagra), which is
under testing before development and marketing on a commercial basis.
The main herb used is stated to be
Cordyceps sinensis (caterpillar
fungus), whose productive buds are available in the hills of
Main article: Culture of Bhutan
Weaving – particular heritage of women in Bhutan.
The culture of
Bhutan is fully reflected in the capital city in
respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the
monastic practices, music, dance, literature and in the media.
Modernity has been blended without sacrificing on the traditional
Ancient literature of
Bhutan is preserved in the National Library. The
script used in Bhutanese literature is in the Bhutanese script (though
evolved from Tibetan script) known as jo yig developed in the 16th
century. The printing process of these books on handmade paper and its
binding are display items at the National Library. Modern literature
is still evolving and a religious biography of women titled delog is a
popular religious work. There are many writers who write in English
now, mostly short stories and collection of folk tales of Bhutan; a
popular author is Kunzang Choeden.
Royal Academy of Performing Arts
Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA), located in Thimphu, was
established at the initiative of late King,
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck
Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in
1954, with the basic objective of preserving and promoting performing
arts traditions of Bhutan. In 1967, it was institutionalised as an
academy and the Royal Dance troupe was its creation. The institution
provides training in national dance forms of
Bhutan such as mask
dances and also preserves the folk dance heritage. The professional
dancers of the Academy hold performances during the annual Thimphu
Tsechu dance festival that is held in the premises of the Tashichhoe
Dzong. Performances lasting for one hour are also arranged on
specially requested occasions. The present activities at the academy
are being reorganised with further expansion of its programs,
including curriculum development for teaching.
The National Library of Bhutan, Thimphu.
Interior of the National Library.
Established in 1967, built in the style of a traditional temple, the
National Library houses many ancient
Dzonghka and Tibetan texts. It
has been planned as "a major scriptural repository and research
facility dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the rich
literary, cultural and religious heritage" of Bhutan. The building is
very lavishly decorated and is said to represent the finest vibrant
Bhutanese architecture. On the ground floor of this building,
among the highly prized collections, there is a book reported to be
the heaviest in the world, weighing 59 kilograms (130 lb), known
as "Bhutan:a Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom ".
Traditional books and historic manuscripts written in Tibetan style,
on handmade paper bound between wooden flats and tied together are
also preserved here. The library also houses an old printing press
that was used for printing books and prayer flags. The library is also
circumambulated by devotees as a mark of worship by the devout as it
enshrines holy books and images of Bhutan's famous people such as the
Zhabdrung, Namgyal, Pema Linga and Guru Rinpoche. Also on display here
are a model of the
Dzong and the Chorten
Further information: Music of Bhutan
The music of
Bhutan has traditional genres such as zhungdra and
boedra. The influence of Drukpa
Buddhist music on
Bhutanese culture is important. Many folk songs and chanting styles
are derived from Drukpa music. In the 17th century, during the reign
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (1594–1652) great blossoming of folk
music and dance (cham) took place. Instruments dating to this time
include the lingm (flute), dramnyen (lute) and chiwang(fiddle).
Ynagchen is an instrument made from hollow wood with 72 strings that
are "struck with two bamboo sticks."
Rigsar music has become popular
Bhutan and is performed on electric piano and
synthesiser. It is, however, a fusion of traditional Bhutanese and
Tibetan tunes and is also influenced by
Hindi music. The music albums
are produced by many popular Bhutanese male and female singers not
Rigsar music but also in traditional folk songs and religious
songs. Four music CDs of religious folk music, called the 'Tibetan
Buddhist Rites' released by the monasteries with a recording sung by a
manip (a traveling ascetic) that reminisces the arrival of Zhabdrung
Ngawang Namgyal in
Bhutan in the 17th century is popular.
Monks at Dechen Phodrang.
To promote music in Bhutan, two music schools have been established in
Thimphu, namely, the Kilu Music School and the recently established
the Himalayan School of Music. The Kilu Music School, established in
March 2005, is the first of its kind in Thimpu where students are
taught the essentials of music such as: to practice their music
reading and writing skills, and to improve their listening
Kheng Sonam Dorji of Kaktong village of Zhemgang District, is a
renowned and committed musician, vocalist, and composer who resides in
Thimphu. He plays several instruments native to
Bhutan and India. He
learnt drangyen under the elders of Bhutanese folk tradition. His
contributions to Bhutanese culture include a string of hit Rigsar
(Bhutanese pop) albums and the sound tracks of the popular Bhutanese
film, "Travellers and Magicians (2004)". He also participated at the
Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife (2008).
Cinema Hall in Thimphu.
Chaam, sacred masked dances, are annually performed during Tsechu
religious festivals held in monasteries.
Films made in
Bhutan are very few. Quality of films produced is in a
stage of improvement. National Film awards are presented in functions
Thimphu to encourage Bhutanese film making. The only cinema
hall in Thimphu, the Luger Cinema Hall, screens Bhutanese and Hindi
movies; occasionally English/foreign-language movies are also screened
Further information: Tsechu
Mask dances, popularly known as Cham dances, are performed in the
courtyards of the Tashichhoe
Thimphu during the four-day
Tsechu festival, held every year during Autumn (September/October) on
dates corresponding to the Bhutanese calendar.
"tenth", so the festival is held on the 10th day of Bhutanese month.
It is a religious folk dance form of Drukpa Buddhism, which was
established in 1670. Tsechus are a series of dances
performed by monks and also trained dance troupes to honour the deeds
of Padmasambahva alias Guru Rinpoche. They are also social events when
people turn up in their best attire, with women particularly
bejeweled, and large numbers witness the ritual dances and also absorb
the religious teachings on Buddhism. It is performed in each district
Bhutan at different periods; the
Tsechu and the Paro Tsechu
are the most popular. The
Thimphu Tsechu, held for four days is
usually attended by the Royal family and the Chief Abbot of
other government officials. The opening day and concluding days are
important and each day has a set programme. These colourfully
costumed, masked dances (performed mostly by monks) typically are
moral vignettes, or based on incidents from the life of the 9th
Padmasambhava and other saints.
A nightlife has begun to develop in Thimphu. Nightclubs have begun to
spring up in the city. Thimphu's nightclubs have a reputation for
high-quality ambience, entertainment, food, and music, and have hosted
prominent Western celebrities.
Arts and crafts
Main article: Bhutanese art
Thangka painting of
Milarepa in a monastery in Thimphu.
Slate carving, School of Traditional Arts.
The arts and crafts of
Bhutan that represents the exclusive "spirit
and identity of the Himalayan kingdom’ is defined as the art of
Zorig Chosum, which means the "thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan".
The arts and crafts produced in
Thimphu and other places in Bhutan
include textiles, paintings, sculptures, paper making, wood carving,
sword making and blacksmithing, boot making, bamboo craft, bow and
arrow making and jewelry.:
National Institute of Zorig Chusum
The National Institute of Zorig Chusum is the centre for Bhutanese Art
education. It was set up by the Government of
Bhutan with the sole
objective of preserving the rich culture and tradition of
training students in all traditional art forms. Painting is the main
theme of the institute, which provides 4–6 years of training in
Bhutanese traditional art forms. The curricula cover a comprehensive
course of drawing, painting, wood carving, embroidery, and carving of
statues. Images of
Buddha are a popular painting done here.
Embroidery, School of Traditional Arts.
There is a large government run emporium close to the National
Institute of Zorig Chusum, which deals with exquisite handicrafts,
traditional arts and jewelry;
Gho and Kira, the national dress of
Bhutanese men and women, are available in this emporium. The town has
many other privately owned emporiums which deal with thangkas,
paintings, masks, brassware, antique jewellery, painted lama tables
known as choektse, drums, Tibetan violins and so forth. Zangma
Handicrafts Emporium, in particular, sells handicrafts made in the
Institute of Zorig Chusum.
National clothes (in Thimphu)
Folk Heritage Museum
Folk Heritage Museum
Folk Heritage Museum in Kawajangsa,
Thimphu is built on the lines of a
traditional Bhutanese farm house with more than 100-year-old vintage
furniture. It is built as a three storied structure with rammed mud
walls and wooden doors, windows and roof covered with slates. It
reveals much about Bhutanese rural life.
Voluntary Artists Studio
Located in an innocuous building, the Voluntary Artist Studio's
objective is to encourage traditional and contemporary art forms among
the youth of
Thimphu who are keen to imbibe these art forms. The works
of these young artists are also available on sale in the 'Art Shop
Gallery' of the studio.
National Textile Museum
The National Textile Museum in
Thimphu displays various Bhutanese
textiles that are extensive and rich in traditional culture. It also
exhibits colourful and rare kiras and ghos (traditional Bhutanese
dress, kira for women and gho for men).
Prayer Wheels, Memorial Chorten, Thimphu.
A classroom in a
Thimphu school with an
OLPC XO-1 computer at each
Buddhism is the state religion and the dominant ethnic group
is Drukpa of
Kagyu Buddhism, while in southern
Hindus of Nepali
ethnicity are dominant. The main monastic body with membership of
1,160 monks is headed by a chief abbot (presently Je Khenpo) who
spends six months in Tashechhoe
Thimphu and the other six
months in Punakha. A Council of Ecclesiastical Affairs, under the
chairmanship of the chief abbot, is located in Thimphu, which is
responsible for the management of the National Memorial
Thimphu, and all
Buddhist meditation centres, schools of Buddhist
studies and also central and district monastic bodies. The day-to-day
affairs of the council are under the charge of the chief abbot.
Further information: Education in Bhutan
It was only in the 1960s that roads were built in
Bhutan and Thimphu
when the Third King of
Bhutan took the initiative after receiving
education in it. Prior to that, education was limited to monastic
teachings in monasteries, except for a few privileged people who went
Darjeeling to receive western-type education.
compulsory in all schools. Schools are co-educational and education is
not compulsory but school education is virtually free. Now,
education has spread to all parts of the country.
Thimphu has several
educational institutions from schooling level to the college level in
several disciplines. There are more private schools in
Thimphu than in
any other place in Bhutan, which are all under the control of the
Department of Education. The National Training Authority administers
three technical institutes.
The Royal University of
Bhutan (known as the RUB) located in the city
was established in 2003. This university includes several
colleges including the Institute for Language and Culture Studies
(ILCS) which provides training to undergraduate students in national
language, culture and traditions of
Bhutan at Simtokha Dzong.
Students who graduate from this school primarily become Dzongkha
teachers. Also included is the Royal Institute of Health
Sciences (RIHS), which provides training to nurses and
technicians, and the Royal Institute of Management (RIM) which
provides training in administrative and financial management to
mid-level manager. Aside from the government run colleges, private
schools and colleges have also been set up in
Thimphu and other
regions of the country.
World Bank funding, an IT Park is proposed in an area of 50,000
square feet (4,600 m2), in 1,700 acres (690 ha) of land at
Babesa, within Thimphu's municipal limits. This facility shall have an
incubation centre, shared technology centre and data centre without
any manufacturing facility. It is a joint venture project of Thimphu
Tech Park Pvt. Ltd., of Assetz Property Group Pvt. Ltd., of Singapore
and Druk Holding & Investments Ltd of Bhutan.
The layout and position of the city roads in
Thimphu are dictated by
its unique topography. Most premier roads, typically wide, are aligned
in a north-south direction, parallel to the river; the most important
artery is the Norzin Lam (Lam - road/street). Branch roads wind along
the hill slopes leading to residential areas. Foot paths are also well
laid with access to the commercial areas and the Wang Chu River.
However, its entry point is at a narrow location from the south
crossed by a wooden bridge. South of the bridge is the road to Paro,
Punakha, Wangdi Phodrong,
Tongsa and further to the east and
north. The expressway which has been built has had a large
impact on development, shifting land values, decreasing transportation
costs, and increasing potential growth opportunity in the southern
part of the valley.
Bhutan Transport Corporation runs a regular bus service from Siliguri
(which along with nearby
New Jalpaiguri station are the nearest
railheads) in India. It takes about four hours to reach Phuentsholing.
From there, buses ply to
Thimphu every day. Taxis can also be
The unique aspect of
Thimphu roads and the traffic control over the
road network is that it is one of the two national capitals in the
world that does not have traffic lights (the other is Ngerulmud,
Palau). Local authorities had installed a set of lights but before
they became operational the lights were removed. Instead of traffic
lights, the city takes pride in its traffic police that directs the
oncoming traffic with their dance-like movement of their arms and
hands. City Bus services operate throughout the day. There are
plans to introduce tram services in the city.
Thimphu is served by the only international airport of Bhutan, Paro
Airport, which is about 54 kilometres (34 mi) away by road. Druk
Air had its headquarters in
Thimphu but now there is only a branch
Druk Air is the only airline flying into
charter flights by
Buddha Air and is a lifeline with the outside world
for the Bhutanese people, also supporting emerging inbound
tourism and export markets. The airline has in recent
times been criticised for its unreliability, particularly from the
Bhutanese tourism industry which is still in its infancy, and regards
the very company upon which it relies as its biggest threat.
Tashi Air is a private airline recently[when?] launched in the
Twin towns – sister cities
Bhutan Olympic Committee was created in November 1983 with the
Bhutan as its President, with its headquarters in Thimphu.
Following this recognition,
Bhutan participated for the first time in
the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles when three men and three
women archers represented Bhutan. For each Olympic Summer
Games since 1984,
Bhutan has fielded male and female archers. They
have never competed in the Winter Games or the other events of the
Summer Games; they also have never won an Olympic medal.
Archery (datse) is the national sport of Bhutan, which is played not
only with traditional bows and arrows but also with modern archery
techniques at the Changlimithang Sports and
Archery Stadium in
Archery is central to the cultural identity of the nation and
as a result all tournaments are started with a ceremony. Women come to
witness the sports in their colourful best attire and cheer their
favorite teams. Men stand close to the target and taunt the players,
if targets are missed. The targets are spaced at 140-metre
(460 ft) intervals. Teams which win the tournaments celebrate
with their supporters by singing and performing a dance jig.
Archery is organized nationally within the
The archery fever in Bhutan.
Since monks are not permitted to participate in archery they indulge
in another popular sports called the daygo- a stone throwing sport,
which involves throwing flat circular stone like a discus.
Another shotput type game known as pungdo is popular and is also
played with big and heavy stones. One more typical Bhutanese game is
the dart game, known locally as Khuru, which is played with short
targets. The darts used in the game are made of a wood block set with
a nail with fins of chicken feather.
Many modern sports are also played in the national stadium in Thimphu,
in addition to locally popular sports mentioned earlier. The sports
activities in vogue are football (Drukstar is the popular team in
Thimphu), basketball, golf, Kwon do (
Bhutan earned a gold medal in
this game in the South Asia Federation Games in 2004, squash,
golf (popular among the elite middle class) and in recent years
Thimphu has 12 cricket teams and two small golf courses; one
India House and the other between the Tashichhoe
the National Library, known as the Royal
Thimphu Golf Course (a
nine-hole course), established at the initiative of King Jigme Dorji
Wangchuk in 1971.
Changlimithang Stadium during a parade.
Archery dance after hitting bulls eye at the Changlimithang Stadium.
Changlimithang Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium in Thimphu, is the
National Stadium. The stadium that was built in 1974 to celebrate the
Coronation of the fourth Druk Gyalpo, King
Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck in
1974. It had a capacity to hold 10,000 spectators. However, it was
completely refurbished in 2007 to accommodate 25,000 spectators for
the Centenary of Wangchuk Dynasty rule in
Bhutan and also the
Coronation Celebrations of the fifth king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar
Namgyal Wangchuck, held on November 6, 2008. It now covers an area of
about 11 hectares (27 acres). This was also the location where
national celebrations were held from the time of the third King of
Bhutan. Historicity of the Changlimithang ground is traced to the 1885
battle that established the political supremacy of Gongsar Ugyen
Wangchuck, Bhutan's first king. Adjacent to the main stadium are the
football ground, the cricket field and archery range. Numerous archery
tournaments are held here with both the imported compound bows and
traditional bamboo bows. The main stadium is used for multipurpose
sports and other functions. A documentary film known as
"The Other Final" was filmed based on a special football match
FIFA that was played between the 202nd placed (out of 203
Bhutan and 203rd-ranked Montserrat.
Main article: Media of Bhutan
Bhutan Broadcasting Service was established in 1973 as a radio
service, broadcasting in short wave nationally, and on the FM band, in
Thimphu. It is run by the Government of Bhutan. The service started
television broadcasts and satellite channels in 1999, during the
coronation of the fourth king of Bhutan.
Bhutan was then the last
country in the world to introduce television. As part of the King's
modernization program, cable television was introduced shortly
after. In 2002, there were 42 TV channels under two cable
Kuensel was first started in
Thimphu as a government bulletin in 1965,
and then became a national weekly in 1986 and was the only newspaper
Bhutan until 2006 when two other news papers namely, the Bhutan
Bhutan Observer, were introduced. Kuensel, which was
initially government owned, became an autonomous corporation
incorporating the Royal Government Press, in 1992. It publishes the
Kuensel in English, Nepali and
Radio Valley FM. 99.9, a new private radio station has started
broadcasting in Thimphu. This is in addition to the older stations of
BBS and Kuzoo FM.
Mountain Echoes: a Literary Festival (20–23 May 2011) Tarayana
Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan
Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thimphu.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Thimphu.
Thimphu on Bhutannica
Department of Tourism, Bhutan
City map RAO online
Five year plan 2002-2007
'A Walk in the Clouds',
Thimphu in the rains, Travelogue in The Indian
Express, 21-06-2009, by Arjun Razdan
Attractions in Thimphu
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