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You can easily fill an afternoon or day exploring Thimphu. It is worth visiting the Tashiccho Dzong, where essentially Bhutan is governed from. Also of interest is the Simtokha Dzong, Memorial Chorten, Changagkka Temple & Folk Museum.
This is only a selection of what is on offer. Your guide will help you choose the places that will be of most interest and tailor your day or afternoon in Thimphu accordingly.
Tashichho Dzong, or the ‘fortress of the glorious religion’, was first erected in 1641 and attained its present form in 1965. It housed the original National Assembly and is now home to the secretariat, the throne room and offices of the King and the Ministries of Finance and Home and Cultural Affairs. Unlike other dzongs, it has two main entrances, one leading to the administrative section and the other to the monastic quarter. The dances of the annual Thimphu Tsechus in autumn are performed in the monastic quarter. Bhutan’s spiritual leader, Je Khenpo, and the monks of Thimphu and Punakha reside here during the summer.
Simtokha Dzong is located on a high ridge about four miles from Thimphu. It was the first of a chain of fortresses built around the country by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 17th century. Built in 1629, today it is the home of the Institute for Language and Culture Studies where monks and lay people come to study. The site of the dzong was chosen to guard over a demon that had vanished into a nearby rock. Its' position protected the Thimphu valley and the route to central and eastern Bhutan.
The National Memorial Chorten is a large Tibetan-style structure built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, today remembered as the father of modern Bhutan. Containing numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statues of Buddhist deities, it is a revered religious site and an important focus for daily prayers and worship.
The Folk Heritage Museum is housed in a three storey mud-and-timber farmhouse dating from the 9th century. It illustrates aspects of traditional Bhutanese life from centuries ago, elements of which survive today in rural areas.
Changangkha temple was built in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo who hailed from Tibet. Perched on a hilltop above the city, the temple is a popular spot for pilgrims who flock here throughout the day to circum ambulate and turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. Parents traditionally come here to get auspicious names for their children from Tamdrin, the protector deity.
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