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Situated at an altitude of 2334 meters, Thimphu is the fifth highest capital city in the world. It is also the largest city in Bhutan. A city where the modern world intertwines with the traditions of Bhutan and strikes a fascinating balance.
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan – the Land of the Thunder Dragon. It is a city tucked in the Himalayan valleys at an altitude of 2334 meters above sea level, making it the fifth-highest capital city globally. Thimphu serves as the seat of the Bhutan government. Therefore, it is the site of all urban amenities related to the highest incomes and aspirations: retail, services, education, and entertainment. This hustle and bustle of an urban town are balanced beautifully with the Himalayan terrains. Towering peaks on one side and the Wangchu river banks rich with terraced farming on the other make it a wonder to behold.
Thimphu is the only capital city in the world that is unique in the absence of traffic lights. Instead, a few major crossroads have police officers standing in elaborately decorated pavilions directing traffic with hand motions. The entire city is wonderful and springs many attractions and certainly deserves a visit; at least once. One of the primary attractions is most certainly the National Memorial Chorten, 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. Chorten means ‘Seat of Faith,’ and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘Mind of Buddha.’ This Chorten is an extraordinary example of Buddhist architecture and artwork with its fantastic paintings and sculptures. Here you will see people praying with beads in their hands. This is one of the most iconic sites to visit in Thimphu.
Bhutanese culture is steeped deep in Buddhist philosophy. Thereby, be prepared to be bedazzled by the largest statue of Buddha in the world here. Such is the faith that the towering Buddha statue overlooks the entire city. As you come towards it, you will be awestruck by the Great Buddha Dordenma in Kuensel Phodrang. Built-in China, Buddha’s big bronze statue is gilded in gold and overlooks the city from a height of 51.5 meters.
Visit it in the morning and stand in the shadows of this magnificent structure of faith to embrace the significance of this statue’s peace and harmony. The same feeling will resonate with you when you step into the Decheng Phodrang. This is the site of Thimphu’s original dzong. It is Bhutan’s monastic school, which offers an eight-year course to almost 500 monk students. It is known as “The Palace of Great Bliss.”
Both Thimphu and Paro have access from the attraction point of Taktsang. Famously known as “The Tiger’s Nest,” which is the cultural symbol of Bhutan. The monastery is located on a cliff at 3,000 feet above the Paro valley. Although one has to endure a moderately difficult trek, the peace at the monastery’s top makes an effort worth it. There is a cave in the temple complex where Guru Padmasambhava has meditated for three years, three months, and three days. The Himalayan valleys that spread out down below Taktsang make it truly a breathtaking sight. Thus, it is not a surprise that it is one of Bhutan’s most visited tourist places.
The other most scenic and vantage point to observe the Himalayas is the Dochu La Pass. Vibrantly colored prayer flags and an array of 108 chortens mark this beautiful scenic tourist destination in Thimphu. On a clear day, a stunning 360-degree view of the Bhutanese Himalayas can be seen from here.
Located on the Wangchu River banks, the Tashichho Dzong Fortress stands tall as one of the popular landmarks in Thimphu. It is the main secretariat building, which houses the offices of the King and the Throne Room. Additionally, the central monastic body and some government ministries are also located in the dzong.
Bhutan is also a model for sustainable growth and has been hailed as a carbon-negative country. It is with this thought that one can spend some time at the Motithang Takin Preserve. It is in this reserve that you can see Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin. Like a goat and a cow, Takin is a marvelous creature exclusive to this enchanted kingdom.
Thimphu is a bustling city by the day, and a great way to enjoy a midday break would be to visit the Centenary Farmer’s Weekend market that will spoil you with choices. From fresh fruits, homemade cheese, and wild honey to handicrafts and pieces like thangkas, masks, and prayer wheels, you will be able to have a fantastic experience. Also, a worthwhile visit will be to the Textile Museum. Thimphu will certainly be etched in your memory as the city where being happy is a way of life. Surely, You will wish to revisit this paradise.
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