The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Thimphu (ཐིམ་ཕུ་), estimated population 50,000 (2003), is the capital of Bhutan and its largest population centre. Tashichoedzong , a fortress monastery on the northern edge of the city, built in the 13th century, has been the seat of Bhutan's government since 1952.

The city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chu (Chu River ) valley, with a government quarter centred on Tashichoedzong. Rapid expansion following urban drift has resulted in considerable rebuilding in the city centre and mushrooming suburban development elsewhere. Norzim Lam, the recently upgraded main throroughfare, is lined with shops, restaurants, retail arcades and public buidlings. Elsewhere, there is a mix of apartment blocks, small family homes and family-owned stores. All, by regulation, are required to be decorated in tradional style with Bhuddist paintings and motifs. The City Corporation enforces stringent building codes, to the extent of physically demolishing unauthorised construction. A lively weekend market near the river supplies meat, vegetables and tourist items. Most of the city's limited light industry is located south of the main bridge.

Dechenphu, Tango and Cheri monasteries, and Dechenchoeling Palace , the official residence of the King, are located to the north of the city.

Tashichoedzong hosts a colourful masked-dance festival (tsechhu) at the end of summer, which is popular with tourists.

Thimphu is the only national capital that does not have traffic lights. When local authorities installed a set of lights a few years ago, people complained that they were too impersonal and so the authorities had to withdraw them.

See also: districts of Bhutan

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