Situated in the western central part, nestled in the surrounding valley, Thimphu is the largest city as well as the capital city of Bhutan. The city is raised at an average altitude of 7000 m. It has many tributaries that flow from the Himalayan peaks and largely dictate the topography of the Thimphu valley. The valley is comparatively dry and contains a different type of vegetation, which mostly consists of the coniferous vegetation type.
Before 1960, Thimphu consisted of Hamlets scattered across the valley. A battle took place and the victory of the first ever ruler of Bhutan, gave him the power to control the whole country. The country started to develop and the presence of Diplomatic Missions and International Funding Organizations in Thimphu resulted in a rapid expansion of Thimphu as a metropolis. A constitution too was drafted for Bhutan, making it a parliamentary democratic constitutional monarchy from an absolute monarchy.
The climate in Thimphu is warm and temperate. Monsoons arrive during mid-june to September. Landslides take place as a result of continuous rainfall for several days. These landslides lead to numerous road blockages. The temperature falls very low and cold winds blow at night. During the period between May and September Thimphu experiences a wet season (heavy rainfall ) and a dry season during the rest of the year.
The buildings in Thimphu are dominated by the Bhutanese architecture. This architecture is characterized by Prayer flags, Mani walls and Prayer wheels.
The state follows the religion of Mahayana Buddhism. It is one of the three main existing branches of Buddhism. Northern parts of Bhutan are dominated by the Drupka ethnic group while the southern parts are dominated by Hindus and Nepalese.
Bhutan’s religion, customs, literature, dress code, music, dance, monastic practices and media successfully reflect the culture of the Bhutanese society. The country believes in blending modernity with tradition without sacrificing on the traditional Buddhist ethos.
The National Library was built in the shape of a traditional temple, in 1967. The purpose behind the establishment of the library was to promote and preserve literary, cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan. The building is lavishly decorated and is said to represent the finest Bhutanese architecture. The library also houses the heaviest book weighing 59 kilos. Traditional books and historic manuscripts written in Tibetan style , on handmade paper, bound between wooden flats and tied together are also preserved here. An old printing press which was used for printing books and prayer flags is also housed in the library. The library has a well preserved treasure of Bhutanese literature. The script in which the Bhutanese literature is written evolved from the Tibetan script during the 16th century. The printing process of these books on handmade paper and its binding are display items in the national library. The popular religious work involves a biography of a woman titled ‘delog’. The collection also contains tales about Bhutan written in English.
The Royal Academy of Performing Arts, which is located in Thimphu was established with the sole motive of preserving and promoting the performing arts tradition of Bhutan. The institution provides training in national dance forms of Bhutan such as mask dances and also preserves the folk dance heritage.
Music in Bhutan is dominated by Buddhist music because the influence of Buddhism on the Bhutanese culture is important. In the 17th century Bhutan witnessed the blossoming of great folk music and dance. Various musical instruments enhanced the musical culture of Bhutan. Also, Rigsar music became popular in Bhutan and Thimphu and was performed on an electric piano and synthesizer. The Rigsar music is a sort of a fusion of Bhutanese and tibetan tunes and is also influenced by Hindi music. With the motive of promoting Bhutanese music two music schools were established namely Kilu Music School and the Himalayan School of Music. Students are taught to practice their music reading and writing skills and to improve their listening skills.
Cinema in Bhutan isn’t oh so good, since a very few films are made in Bhutan. The quality of the films produced is on the stage of improvement. To promote and improve Bhutanese film making, national film awards are presented in functions held in Thimphu. Luger Cinema hall is the one and only cinema hall in Thimphu, it screens Bhutanese and Hindi movies and occasionally movies in English or any other foreign language are also screened here.
Thimphu Tsechu Festival is the annual festival, mainly featuring the religious folk dance and was established in 1670. People perform mask dances popularly known as Cham dances, during the four day tsechu festival, held during autumn mainly September and October, according to the Bhutanese calendar. Literally meaning ‘tenth’, the Tsechu festival is held on the 10th day of a month of the Lunar Tibetan Calendar. These dances are performed by monks along with other trained dancers and are a series of dances called the Tsechu. People are dressed in their best clothes flaunting their best jewelry. The festival takes place in each district of Bhutan at different periods and is usually attended by the Royal family.
Bhutan is rich in art with around 13 arts and craft style of Bhutan, known as Zorig Chosum, that represents the exclusive ‘spirit and identity of the Himalayan Kingdom’. The making of jewelry, bows & arrows, boots, sculptures, textiles, paper, swords, paintings also wood carving, bamboo craft and blacksmithing, are all the elements that are included in the list of the rich art and craft of Bhutan.
The Voluntary Artists’ studios encourage traditional and contemporary art forms, among the youth of Thimphu, who are interested in imbibing these art forms.
Various Bhutanese textiles are proudly displayed in the National Textile Museum, in Thimphu.
Bhutan is also very well known for its mountain adventure trekking and hiking. The popular trekking in Bhutan involves Jhomolhari Base Camp trek, Snowman trek and Masagang trek.
Thimphu can be reached by air and road both. It is served by the only international airport located in Bhutan that is the Paro airport.
There are several hotels in Thimphu that offer a comfortable stay at the city and make lodging a less of an issue.
So buckle up and join the extravaganza at the beautiful city of Thimphu, Bhutan !