Tashichho Dzong

Tashichho Dzong is a prestigious existence to Bhutanese. Not only is the dzong the largest and the oldest in Bhutan, but also the seat of the Druk Desi (the secular ruler of Bhutan) and an office combined with the kingship. The status of Tashichho Dzong is as vital as the Potala Palace of Tibet in ancient times. It is the religious and administrative centre of the nation.

The white walls of stone and the red flared roofs with a golden top makes Tashichho Dzong resemble the Potala Palace slightly. Yet, the dzong hasn’t been turned into a museum like the Potala Palace that welcomes flocks of visitors. Therefore, it remains free from disturbance and solemn as a political centre. The scene of lamas in red robes walking by a hundred rooms and relief murals would arouse great respect in your heart. Let’s visit this most sacred place in the country with a peaceful mind!

Weekend market (Centenary Farmers Market)

Dzongs, chortens and folk museums are some good choices for Bhutanese cultural exploration. Feel like finding out more about the down-to-earth lives of locals? Then you should definitely make a little trip to the weekend market, where you can have a good observation of Bhutanese lives through their trading and experience the beauty of the local culture.

In the weekend market, you will find village people attired in traditional garments selling fresh agricultural produce, such as organic vegetables and fruits, dried chillies, yak cheese, red rice and more, offering you a glimpse of the local food culture.Traditional handicrafts like masks and Bhutanese specialty herbs such as Rhodiola Rosea can be found as well. Stalls also sell products from other districts (dzongkhags) of Bhutan and India. Wandering around the stalls and chitchatting with friendly vendors will bring you cultural insights.

National Memorial Chorten

Besides Tashichho Dzong, the National Memorial Chorten is another notable landmark and religious architecture in Thimphu. This spotless white chorten sparkles in gold under the sunlight. It carries the spirit of Bhutan and guards Thimphu.

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, devoted himself to the modernisation and democratisation of the country. He ordered the construction of the chorten which serves as a prayer for world peace. Unfortunately, he died of congenital heart disease before the completion of the chorten. It thus became the memorial chorten for the king and now witnesses streams of pilgrims. When visiting the chorten, you can walk around it clockwise like other believers before spinning the prayer wheel to pray. You can also light up the oil lamp to ignite your wishes. Then, bring your palms together devoutly to ask deities to answer your prayers for peace and harmony in the world.

Dochula Pass

On the pass from Thimphu, the present capital, to Punakha, the former capital, you can see 108 white stupas with golden tops on the top of a mountain. They, overlooking the Himalayas, are the silent guards of this crucial passage.

These 108 stupas were built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers sacrificed in the 2003 military incident against insurgents from North India. The smaller stupas blanket the mountain top surrounding the main one in three layers. Prayers can be found in each little stupa. Standing in close proximity to the stupas is the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple). It was built in honour of the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck and to celebrate 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan. Apart from paintings on themes of Bhutanese history, you can also see some murals depicting modern life, such as monks with laptops and a Drukair airplane, decorating the walls of the temple. They are some interesting works to look at.

Buddha Dordenma Statue

Bhutan is a Buddhist country, and naturally there is a Buddha statue guarding the nation. In Thimphu, you can find the gigantic Buddha Dordenma Statue blessing the well-being of Bhutan.

Buddha Dordenma Statue was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the father of the present king. Sitting atop a hill in a national nature park in Thimphu, Buddha Dordenma Statue is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. The statue houses 125,000 smaller Buddha statues. Each of these smaller Buddhas has also been cast in bronze and gilded as the bigger Buddha has. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.