Thimphu (/tɪmˈpuː/; Tibetan alphabet: ཐིམ་ཕུག་ [tʰimpʰu], Dzongkha: ཐིམ་ཕུ་), also in the past spelled as Thimpu, is the capital and largest city of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan's dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The city became the capital of Bhutan in 1961. As of 2005 it had a population of 79,185, with 98,676 people living in the entire Thimphu district.
The city is spread out longitudinally in a north-south direction on the West Bank of the valley formed by the Wang Chuu, also known as the Thimphu Chuu River. Thimphu is located at 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″ECoordinates: 27°28′00″N 89°38′30″E and is spread over an altitudinal range between 2,248 metres (7,375 ft) and 2,648 metres (8,688 ft). Unusually for a capital city, Thimphu is not served by an airport, but relies on the airport at Paro, connected by road some 54 kilometres (34 mi) away.
Before 1960, Thimphu consisted of a group of hamlets scattered across the valley including Motithang, Changangkha, Changlimithang, Langchupakha, and Taba, some of which constitute districts of the city today (see below for district details). In 1885, a battle was held at what is now the Changlimithang sports ground in Thimphu. The decisive victory opened the way for Ugyen Wangchuck, the first King of Bhutan to virtually control the whole country.
Since this time the sports ground has been of major importance to the city; football, cricket matches and archery competitions take place there. The modern Changlimithang Stadium was built on the site in 1974. Under the Wangchu Dynasty, the country enjoyed peace and progress under successive reformist monarchs. The third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, reformed the old pseudo-feudal systems by abolishing serfdom, redistributing land, and reforming taxation.
He also introduced many executive, legislative, and judiciary reforms. Reforms continued and in 1952 the decision was made to shift the capital from the ancient capital of Punakha to Thimphu. The fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, opened the country for development and India provided the needed impetus in this process with financial and other forms of assistance. In 1961, Thimphu officially became the capital of Bhutan.
The traditional architectural monuments in Thimphu, as in the rest of Bhutan, are of typical Bhutanese architecture of monasteries, dzongs (most striking fortress type structures), chortens, gateways, Lhakhangs, other sacred places and royal palaces, which are the most distinctive architectural forms of Bhutan. Prayer Flags, Mani Walls and Prayer Wheels present a propitious setting throughout the urban agglomerate of Thimphu.
The most prominent architecturally elegant, traditional Bhutanese building structures in Thimphu are the Tashichho Dzong, Drubthob Goemba (now the Zilluka nunnery), Tango Goempa or Cheri Goempa, the Memorial Chorten, Thimphu, Dechen Phodrang, and Changangkha Lhakhang, all vintage monuments with rich history.
Initially, when Bhutan was opened up for Tourism in 1974, the Government-owned Tourism Corporation was set up in Thimphu to encourage and organise individual and group tours to destinations of cultural importance in Bhutan, concentrating on Buddhism, weaving, birds, nature and trekking, and any special package. This organization was privatised in 1994 and named as Bhutan Tourism Development Corporation. The corporation also owns and manages hotels and tourist lodges at all major tourist centres in Bhutan. It has its own fleet of cars and also interpreters in several international languages to cater to tourists of various denominations.
The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in the capital city in respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and in the media. Modernity has been blended without sacrificing on the traditional Buddhist ethos.
Arts and crafts
The arts and crafts of Bhutan that represents the exclusive "spirit and identity of the Himalayan kingdom’ is defined as the art of Zorig Chosum, which means the "thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan". The arts and crafts produced in Thimphu and other places in Bhutan include textiles, paintings, sculptures, paper making, wood carving, sword making and blacksmithing, boot making, bamboo craft, bow and arrow making and jewelry.