Bhutan’s capital and largest city nestles into the Himalayas on the banks of the Raidak River around 2,000 m above sea level in the west of the country. As with the rest of the country, it is largely unspoilt by influences from the outside world.
There is evidence of human habitation in the surrounding region dating back to 2000 BC. Its first appearance in documented history occurred in the second century AD, and Buddhism was established as the principal religion six centuries later. Thimphu was made the official seat of government in 1962, which used to coincide with wherever the monarch was residing at a particular time. The coronation of Jigme Wangchuk in 1974 gave rise to the first visit of foreign media in the country’s history.
Thimphu is served by an airstrip and is located on the main Indo-Bhutan National Highway. The economy is based upon agriculture, with an emphasis on rice. Tourism is carefully regulated.
Places of Interest
Perched above the town is Tashi Chho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion), built in 1772 but completely refurbished in 1961 to serve as the seat of Government and headquarters of the Central Monastic Body. The whole city underwent major renovation in this period, financed largely with Indian backing. There is a fine School of Arts and Crafts, a Memorial Chorten, a National Library, an Indigenous Hospital and a stadium dedicated to archery, the national sport. The city also provides access to remarkable mountain views and testing treks.