At about 2300 meters, Thimphu is perhaps the most unusual capital in the world. Without any traffic lights or high rise buildings, which are a synonym to capital cities are over the world, Thimphu is a hip place in its own rights.
The Thimphu Chu meanders through this valley of about 100,000 people. Thimphu Dzong, also known as the Tashichhodzong, houses the throne Room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan. This Dzong, completely renovated in the 60s by the third king, is also the summer residence of the Central Monastic Body. The Traditional School of Arts and Crafts, offer interesting insights into Bhutanese traditions of art. Students from various backgrounds are taught the age old traditions in a strict fashion with a lengthy curriculum. Bhutan’s national library is located close to the Traditional School of Arts and Crafts and is worth a visit. Inside the library are some of the oldest records of Bhutanese history and religion.
Thimphu’s charm is not embedded in its wealth and galleries, museums or place of historic interest. Visitors must wander along the main street and into shops, all of which are decorated in traditional style. Thimphu’s shopkeepers are delightfully helpful and will do their best to oblige even the smallest request. Bhutan’s famous stamp collections can be viewed and purchased in the capital’s main post office.
Every weekend, most of Thimphu’s scant population and many valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. The fields adjacent to the market are reserved on weekends for basket ball and archery players. The latter, if dressed in full costume are a lovely sight. A few minutes drive to the south of Thimphu is the 17th century Simthokha Dzong on the lofty ridge. Built in 1627, the oldest Dzong in the country houses the school for Buddhist philosophies. The road to Do Chula pass and on to eastern Bhutan winds its way upwards from Simthokha Dzong.