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frenchfrog Thimphu - A travel report by Isabelle
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Thimphu,  Bhutan - flag Bhutan -  Thimphu
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frenchfrog's travel reports

Thimphu, the capital with no traffic lights

  18 votes
This report will complete my first report on Paro. Thimphu is the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The population is of 50000 habitants. Most of them are monks, members of the Royal family and civil servants with a growing middle class.



View of Thimphu
View of Thimphu
When we entered the city it was really quiet, it was like the town was deserted. There were no other cars to be seen, it was so strange for a capital city. There are no traffic jam compared to other cities (a complete change from what I have seen in Kathmandu!)Thimphu does not have any traffic lights, only have a policeman directing traffic from a booth at a roundabout. Thimphu used to have a set of traffic lights but residents complained that they were ugly, so the local council took them down within weeks. We stopped at a petrol station, which was built in the traditional style. By a Royal decree, all buildings in Bhutan must be built in a traditional style. Thimphu only emerged as the capital city in 1953, but at the time it was only a dzong (Tashichoedzong), surrounded by small farms scattered through the valley. It is only since the 1970’s that the town started to develop and be as it is now. Thimphu is crossed by the Wang Chhu river. Thimphu also has got the highest golf course in the world.

Favourite spots:
Tashichoedzong
Tashichoedzong
Tashichoedzong ("fortress of the auspicious religion"):
The Dzong is closed during business hours, you can only visit it during “off hours”, that’s means after five o’clock in the afternoon. The Dzong dates back from 1216. It was reconstructed many times after destructions and fires. The current Dzong dates from 1969. It was refurbished because the Dzong became the seat of the government. The entrance of the Dzong is located on the eastern side, paintings of Guardians of the Four Directions welcome the visitors after climbing a staircase. The first courtyard is the courtyard of the central administration, around it are all the ministries and the Royal Chamber. Then through a small door you arrive in the second courtyard, which is the Monastic quarters. It is where the central tower is located. Most buildings are beautifully decorated with mantras and mandalas representing the universe.

What's really great:
National Mamorial Chorten
National Mamorial Chorten
Thimphu mini zoo: Situated near the “telecom tower hill”, here you can see the takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The takin with its bovine type body is covered with long yellow brown hairs. Its average weigh is 350 Kg.

National Memorial Chorten: Built in 1974, it is one of the most visible religious structure in Thimphu. It was built to honour the memory of the third king Jigme Dorji Wandchuck.

Changangka Dzong: This is one of the oldest temple in the Thimphu valley. It dates from the 15th century and was restored in 1998.

National Institute of Traditional Medicine: This institute prepares traditional medicinal herbal treatments for different illnesses. The museum comprises of a large collection of plants and roots used in medicine. The centre also has a shop where you can buy herbal teas.

The Post office: A heaven for all stamps collectors! (But not for my wallet!). Bhutan is well known for its philatelic pride. Stamps depict Bhutan's unique culture.

Sights:
Bhutanese archer
Bhutanese archer
I went to watch a competition on the archery field.
Archery is Bhutan's national sport and is played all year round. 2 painted targets 30cm large and 120cm high are placed at each end. The bows and arrows are made of special kind of bamboo, the target is 120 metre away. Team members encourage (like cheerleaders) their archer on the other side of the field. They stand really close from the target. Each team usually consist of 11 members. The first team to reach 33 points wins the match. The method of scoring is complicated as if an arrow lands within an arrow's lengh of the target even without hitting it, it also counts. Every time an archer hits the target his team members will perform a kind of victory dance on the field. It was very entertaining as all players were wearing the Gho, the national costume.

Accommodations:
River View Hotel
River View Hotel
I stayed in the River View Hotel, situated on the east bank of the Wang Chu river, about 1 Km of the city centre. All rooms of the hotel have got a balcony with a view of the town.

Nightlife:
Woman spinning prayers wheels at Changangka Dzong
Woman spinning prayers wheels at Changangka Dzong
More about Bhutan:
http://www.btb.com.bt/about_bhutan.html<--br /> http://www.raonline.ch/pages/bt/cult/bt_--archi00.html
http://www.discoverbhutan.biz/pages/yana--/y_archi01b.html
http://www.discoverbhutan.biz/pages/yana--/y_archi01a.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dzong_archi--tecture

Other recommendations:
Punaka Dzong
Punaka Dzong
Punaka Dzong:
About 2 hours drive from Thimphu is the Dzong of Punaka.
The Dzong is 1350m high. It stands at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu rivers. At first sight the Dzong looks like a giant ship floating on the river.
The Dzong was built in 1637. It really represent Bhutanese rich art and architecture of the country. This Dzong contains 21 temples. Punakha Dzong is one of the most historic dzongs in the whole country. According to one legend, the head Lama of the Dzong realised that he was outnumbered by the pursuing Tibetan army. He ordered his troops to leave the Dzong from the hidden exit, then circle around a hillock and enter the fortress again and again through the main entrance in full view of the enemy. It gave a false impression of a huge reinforcement. It worked and the Tibetan army did not attack.
Punaka Dzong is the administrative and religious centre of the district.

Published on Monday January 29th, 2007


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Wed, Aug 22 2012 - 09:19 AM rating by adisidh

Useful and interesting reports. want to see trafic pictrure without Lights.......

Tue, Feb 13 2007 - 07:57 PM rating by travler

National Mamorial Chorten and the Archers were my favorite pictures in this exceptional report.

Wed, Feb 07 2007 - 04:06 PM rating by magsalex

Great report. Lots of information and some fab pics.

Thu, Feb 01 2007 - 05:11 PM rating by eirekay

Archery! Wow-I would have never imagined! Terrific report with lots of new information!

Thu, Feb 01 2007 - 12:50 PM rating by marianne

Great report and very informative. I especially like the photo of the woman spinning prayer wheels, the way she looks. The spinning of the wheels is a bit difficult to see.

Wed, Jan 31 2007 - 07:56 PM rating by mistybleu

So much information about a place I know little of. Great report

Amanda

Wed, Jan 31 2007 - 04:43 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Useful report of a rarely visited country

Wed, Jan 31 2007 - 06:09 AM rating by downundergal

I prefer the first report you wrote but this report gives more of a glimpse of everyday life and lovely photos once again.
Well done - I still want to visit.

Tue, Jan 30 2007 - 12:43 PM rating by picu

Very interesting to read about this exotic destination, I didn't know anything about Bhutan before reading this report! And lovely photos!

Tue, Jan 30 2007 - 12:14 PM rating by davidx

Full of information and delight

Tue, Jan 30 2007 - 06:15 AM rating by rangutan

Wonderful impressions [4.2]

Mon, Jan 29 2007 - 02:51 PM rating by mrscanada

This report is very interesting and the pictures are amazing.

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