This chorten (stupa) was built in 1974 in memory of Bhutan’s Third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The architecture, paintings and statues inside the monument provide an insight into Mahayana Buddhism followed in Bhutan.
“Semtokha”, literally meaning “Atop a Demon” is the oldest Dzong (fortress) built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, to subdue an evil spirit harassing travelers in the region. The Dzong contains numerous exquisite statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures.
The present National Library building is a four-storeyed, eight-cornered traditional structure, designed in the form of an “Utse” the central tower of a Bhutanese Dzong. It was inaugurated in 1984 and houses thousands of manuscripts and ancient religious texts. The library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.
The Institute of Zorig Chusum is a premier government institute offering courses on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Students are trained with the objective of preserving the rich culture and tradition of Bhutan.
Institute of Traditional Medicine Services
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to allopathic and traditional medicines. The institute, established in 1978, conducts research, prepares and dispenses traditional herbal and other medicines. The small museum in the institute showcases ingredients ranging from herbs and minerals, to animal parts and precious metal and gems used in traditional medicine.
National Textile Museum
The textile museum showcases the living art of Bhutanese weaving and embroidery. Exhibitions are on six major themes – warp pattern weaves; weft pattern weaves; role of textiles in religion; achievements in textile arts; textiles from indigenous fibers; and the royal collection.
Tashichho Dzong, located on the banks of Wang chhu (river) was built in 1641 and later expanded and renovated to its present form by the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The Dzong houses the throne room and offices of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan and the central government. Tashichho Dzong is also home to the monk body headed by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, the chief abbot of Bhutan.
Bhutanese handicrafts consist of colorful, hand woven and embroidered textiles, cane, bamboo and woodcrafts and other traditional and indigenous craft products. The government-run Handicrafts Emporium and the Craft Bazaar in the center of Thimphu town offer a variety of Bhutanese craft products. There also many smaller crafts shops in and around Thimphu town.
Centenary Farmer’s Market
The centenary farmer’s market is the largest domestic market for Bhutanese farmers and is located below the main town. Farmers all over Bhutan sell their farm fresh and organic products here. Across the wooden cantilever bridge from the farmers market are stalls selling clothing and rural textiles and handicrafts.
Changangkha Lhakhang (temple) is one of the oldest temples in Thimphu. It was established in the 12th century by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who came from Tibet. The temple’s central statue is Chenrezig (the God of Compassion) in a manifestation with 11 heads and thousand hands. The temple courtyard provides a panoramic view of Thimphu valley.
At a height of 51.5 meters, the Buddha Drodenma (Shakyamuni) statue is one of the largest in the world. The statue is made from bronze and gilded in gold. A total of 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within main statue. The statue is located on a hill in the Kuenselphodrang nature park and overlooks the southern end of Thimphu valley.
Takin Preserve, Motithang
The Takin Preserve in Motithang is a preserve for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. It was previously a mini-zoo, later converted to a preserve when it was discovered that the animals that were set free, especially the Takins were unable to go back into the wild. The Takin looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the great Buddhist yogi, Drukpa Kuenley (the Divine Madman), created the animal.