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Thimphu: Cruising the capital’s cultural core
Thimphu, situated at an altitude of 2400m, is the centre of government, religion and commerce. The capital has an interesting combination of tradition and modernity, and includes some of the most advanced and remotest parts of the kingdom. It is home to the Kings and the Royal family members, civil servants, expatriates, politicians, business persons and monks. Enjoy this cultural mix based on livelihood. Of culture we will take you through temples, dzongs, chortens, museums, handicraft stores, nunneries, parks and many more. Allow yourself to meet both traditional and contemporary artist.
National Memorial Chorten:
Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’. Treat yourself with the extraordinary depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures. As the name denotes this National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974 in memory of the Third King.
The “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King JigmeDorjiWangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Stroll through the very first dzong, built in 1627 by ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal. The Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located here. Enthral yourself with the most noteworthy artistic feature in the form of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
This temple situated atop a small hound overlooking the Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam PhajoDugomZhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley.
Thangtong Dewachen Nunnery:
The only nunnery in the Capital it is popularly known as ZilukhaAnimDratshang. It is located above Zilukha Lower Secondary School, overlooking Tashichodzong in Thimphu valley and is a few minutes’ drive from the town. It was built in 1976 by the 16th emanation of ThangtongGyalpo, DrubthobRikeyJadrel. You may interact with some 60 nuns or so that has devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.
The National Library was established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old. There is also a small collection of foreign books, stock of which mainly comprises works written in English. Take the opportunity to see the world’s biggest book stationed in the ground floor.
Institute for ZorigChusum:
Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers you a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. It is a hands-on trip for you. Enjoy few moments with the future artists of the country.
National Institute of Traditional Medicine:
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicines made from medicinal plants abundant in the kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around and visit the showroom.
Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums:
These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. One may come across some interesting facets from rural Bhutan that is slowly being replaced by modern amenities. The water driven grinding mill may captivate your zoom lens.
A wide assortment of colourful, hand woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and many smaller handicrafts shops around the town. One can pick up small items as souvenirs.