with Bhutan Druk Adventure
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.
TANGO UNIVERSITY OF BUDDIHIST STUDIES
The university is located in the northern end of the Thimphu valley. The road gets narrower and the valley starts caving in imposing its gigantic rise.
The university is located in the northern end of the Thimphu valley. The road gets narrower and the valley starts caving in imposing its gigantic rise. However contrary to the claustrophobic description, the drive through the lush greenery and sporadic drive alongside the Thimphu River can be a rejuvenating experience.
Tango University is the highest Buddhist learning center in Bhutan. Monks in Tango University undergo a 9 year program. The successful completion of this course is followed by meditation for 3 years 3 months and 3 days in the nearby Cheri Monastery retreat center.
The great unifier of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel is believed to have meditated in a cave near the site in 1616. The religious site receives many devotees during auspicious days to make religious offering..
MOTITHANG TAKIN PRESERVE
A short distance up the road to the BBS tower viewpoint is a trail leading to a large fenced enclosure that was originally established as a zoo.
Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin (Budorcas taxicolor), the national animal of Bhutan. The reason for declaring takin as the national animal of Bhutan is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley, popularly known as the Divine Mad Man.
It's worthwhile taking the time to see these oddball mammals. The best time to see them is early morning, when they gather near the fence to feed.
CENTENARY FARMERS MARKET
Located below the main town, near the Wang Chhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan.
Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh and organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favorite spot for tourists and a recreational place for people from all walks of life. Across a cantilever footbridge, Kuendeyling Bazaam, to the west bank is a collection of stalls selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts.
FOLK HERITAGE MUSEUM
Located in the capital city of Thimphu, this museum was established in 2001 and provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life. The Folk Heritage Museum is set inside a three storied, 19th century traditional house.
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.
Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass.
Bhutanese families enjoy visiting the pass during holidays and weekends to picnic and simply enjoy the scenery. It is common to see families and groups of friends seated amongst the chortens, enjoying a packed lunch and hot tea. For tourists this is an ideal location to capture beautiful pictures of the Himalayan mountain range during clear, warm days.
The name Semtokha literally means “Atop a Demon” and the legend associated with the dzong’s construction tells us that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travelers in the region. The dzong was modeled after the Gyal Gyad Tshel Institute of Ralung (Tibet) and is quite distinctive as its Utse or central tower has 12 sides.
A large statue of Yeshay Gonpo (Mahakala), the chief protective deity of Bhutan, is housed inside the Utse. Another interesting aspect of the dzong is that it contains the bed chambers of both Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel, two of the most important figures in Bhutanese history. Zhabdrung was the leader that first united Bhutan as a nation and Jigme Namgyel was the father of the first King of Bhutan Ugyen Wangchuck.
The dzong houses countless statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rimpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and many more all carved and painted in exquisite detail.
BUDDHA DORDENMA STATUE
The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world.
This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 m, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue; 100,000 statues of which are 8-inches-tall and 25,000 statues of which are 12 inches tall. Each of these thousands of Buddhas have also been cast in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.
THE JUNGSHI PAPER FACTORY
The Jungshi handmade paper factory uses traditional methods to produce the authentic Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho. The Jungshi paper factory continues to preserve and promote this age-old Bhutanese tradition. It also produces various other products, such as stationery and greeting cards.
It is located approximately 1 km from Thimphu City. The factory uses the bark of two tree species, the Daphne tree and Dhekap tree in the manufacture of traditional paper. Visitors can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper using ancient traditional methods that have been practiced for generations. You can even try your hand at this ancient craft and make some paper of your very own as a souvenir. Deh-sho paper was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
DRUK WANGYAL LHAKHANG
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) was built in honor of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The past and future appears to merge in the details of the lhakhang (temple) and its structure tells the story of a supreme warrior figure, whose vision pierces the distant future in a fine blend of history and mythology.
ROYAL TEXTILE MUSEUM
Royal Textile Academy. It features a stunning display of ancient and modern textiles, and explores the rich traditions of Bhutan's national arts of thagzo (weaving) and tshemzo (embroidery). The ground floor focuses on royal ghos, including the wedding clothes worn by the fourth king and his four wives. The upper floor introduces the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and types of textiles made by women and men. No photography is allowed.
The museum shop offers some interesting books and fine textiles. Across the courtyard is the Royal Textile Academy conservation centre, where you can watch a small group of weavers working their looms. Authentic Bhutanese Craft bazaar in Thimphu sits along the Norzin Lam stretching from the Taj Tashi hotel up till Royal textile academy of Bhutan.