Lots to do in Thimphu! Friday, 10/23/15

Our day in Thimphu, Bhutan began as many locals do ... with a morning walk to the Memorial Stupa, also known as the Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 in memory of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.  It's very popular among the pious, young and old alike, who make it part of their daily ritual to visit.  One difference is that we drove to the stupa in our little bus, because we had stops to make afterwards. It was very cool to watch, to join in, the many native Bhutanese in their ritual circumambulation.

The stupa (chorten) is a gorgeous structure, gleaming white and gold in the sunshine.  It glows at night, too, with small lights attached to lines strung up to the top.  We saw it lit at night and it's equally beautiful.  It's decorated with richly carved annexes facing the four directions, and contains mandalas, statues, and a shrine dedicated to the third king.  Some of our group can be seen center/left.

The chorten attracts many elderly Bhutanese on a daily basis.  They circumambulate the chorten in a clockwise direction, whirl the large red prayer wheels (all day long), and pray at the shrine.

Irwin, Sheila, and yours truly are giving the golden prayer wheels a turn.

Pallets are set up for the worshipers to prostrate themselves.

Jimmy and other group members admiring the chorten.

One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their unique dress.  Bhutanese men wear the traditional and native dress called the Gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as a kera.  The government requires all men to wear the gho if they work in a government office or school.  Those white cuffs would be problematic in our home!  I took this picture because it shows people of all ages and manner of dress at the chorten (even a ball cap).  Enlarge the photo if you can.

Women wear the traditional kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a tego, with an inner layer known as a wonju.  Hats are very popular, and scarves, too, apparently!

Americans show up in all manner of dress!  Above:  Marilyn, Jimmy, me and Joanne.

Next we visited the national Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts, also known as the painting school, where 13 different forms of Bhutanese traditional arts and crafts are taught to young (and enthusiastic) students.  They are the ones who will keep the age-old traditions alive; they're responsible for passing on the valuable ancient knowledge and skills to the next generation.  Above and below, young men (first year students) were learning to carve.


I love these shoes!  Hand-made using treadle sewing machines; each pair takes about a week to make.

These exquisite carvings are made of clay and papier-mâché.  The students will rework the whole piece until it's judged to be perfect.

These young ladies were embroidering, silk thread on silk backgrounds.  Their work is remarkable.

After lunch, we made a field trip to the National Textile Museum.  We saw some really distinctive and attractive work (wish I could afford some!).  That afternoon, we strolled the streets of Thimphu, shopped a bit, gawked a lot, tried not to trip over the ubiquitous dogs, and had a wonderful time.  (Dogs are everywhere -- they sleep during the day and bark half the night!  Good thing I brought earplugs!)

Dinner was at Edelweiss (honest!).  Thimphu won't get awards for cuisine, but this restaurant was one of the better ones.  Most places serve buffet style, and usually we see the same dishes, and we always get rice!


  1. I hope you got a pair of dem shoes!

  2. I always enjoy visiting workshops where the locals are plying the traditional arts.


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