Arriving in the capital, Thimphu, was a slightly different experience to my previous arrival ten years earlier. Many, many more buildings. That’s to be expected in a developing country, but all those shiny corrugated iron roofs was a bit of a surprise. As I understood the building code of ten years ago, construction of anything other than traditional looking buildings was prohibited. That meant in particular, shingle covered roofs were obligatory. You could have a corrugated iron roof ten years ago, but it had to be disguised with shingles laid over the top. This really did preserve the truly Bhutanese style. Nowadays, the shingles seem to have gone – progress perhaps? – or maybe even availability. But buildings are still limited in height and still exhibit the ‘chunkiness’ and colours I remember. Thimphu is still very much Thimphu!
Thimphu lies in the Wang Chuu valley at an elevation of about 2500m (8200ft). It has a population of 104,000 (2013).Paro
Thimphu is one of the very few capital cities that does not have an airport, rather it is served by the airport at Paro some 54km (34ml) away. This is because the country only has one valley long enough for a runway. Pilots must possess a special license to land at Paro as arriving planes must first negotiate a high pass and then be guided up the twisting valley to the runway. It is quite an experience to land at Paro. On looking out the windows of the plane there are mountain slopes at the wingtips on both sides of the aircraft.
The Wang Chuu and colourful city buildings of Thimphu.
Buildings are limited to 5 stories in height.
Our rather grand hotel in Thimphu, the Taj Tashi Hotel.
The rather dramatic foyer of the Taj Tashi Hotel, Thimphu.
Our bedroom decorated in typical Bhutanese style and colours.
Tashichho Dzong. The dzong is the seat of the Bhutanese government and houses some ministeries, the throne room and offices of the king.
A guard at the Tashichho Dzong. This post actually overlooks the nearby king’s residence, Dechencholing Palace.
No photographs in the opposite direction are allowed.
A courtyard within the Tashichho Dzong.
It was raining but this monk still makes a water offering. Woebetide any unsuspecting tourist beneath, tradition and the gods come first!
Colourful murals depict Buddhist stories on most walls.
Detail of a mural.
More wall murals.
Colourful silk hangings adorn the dzong.
Another guard at the dzong.
Photography Copyright © David Young of jtdytravels
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