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Bhutan > Pictures and travelogues > Thimphu sightseeing

Pictures from Thimphu sightseeing, Bhutan: Motithang Takin Preserve, Royal Botanical Garden, and Tashichho Dzong.  

Motithang Takin Preserve ("Thimphu Zoo") in Bhutan
Motithang Takin Preserve ("Thimphu Zoo") in Bhutan: takin (Budorcas taxicolor).

A mini-zoo with a small number of Takin in Thimphu has been converted into a wildlife reserve area for takin in Motithang, a north-western suburb of Thimphu. 

The zoo was indeed shut down in the 1980s since it was improper for a Buddhist nation to keep an animal in captivity. However, the takins refused to leave the area and instead frequently found roaming around the streets of the capital city in search for food. It was then decided to keep them in an enclosed, forested habitat at the edge of Thimphu.

The 19 acres fenced area of the Motithang preserve has currently 16 takins, two barking deers, 10 Sambar deers and one Goral.

Takin, also known as gnu goat, is a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. Takin was declared as National Animal of Bhutan. Lama Drukpa Kunley, a popular 15th century saint, is said to have created takin with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. Takin resembles a cow from back and a goat from the front.

The IUCN considers takin as vulnerable due to threat of competition with domestic yaks for food and lose of habit and logging. Their main predators are bears, snow leopard and wolves.

Bhutan Botanical Garden near Thimphu
Royal Botanical Garden near Thimphu, Bhutan.

Bhutan has often been quoted as a 'Botanical paradise' due to its rich natural heritage in its pristine state. The Royal Botanical Garden, Serbithang (RBGS) was established in May 1999 as a conservation area for the country’s flora. It aims to educate the public on the value of conservation.

The Orchid House of the garden contains over 800 species of orchids from different climatic regions. The Arboretum contains many of Bhutan's native broadleaf, deciduous and coniferous tree species, such as chir pines, blue pines, cypresses, and fruit trees. Other interesting areas in the Royal Botanical Garden include a prayer wheel and chorten, a collection of medicinal plants, a Japanese garden, a Rose garden, an aquatic garden, a Rhododendron Collection, and more. About 300 medicinal plants are used routinely in Bhutanese traditional medicines. 

Bhutan's Royal Botanical Garden is located about 15km away from Thimphu. It can easily be reached by bus or Taxi.

On the other hand, in 2008, a Rhododendron garden with 46 Bhutanese species was established in Lamperi, 30 kilometers from Thimphu. The 125 acre Lamperi area was declared a Botanical Park because of its rich ecosystem diversity. The park features a variety of forest types at altitudes ranging from 2100 meters to 3800 meters. It has 14.5 km of trails for eco trek. Lamperi is situated at nine kilometers from Dochula towards Punakha on the Thimphu-Punakha highway.

Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu, Bhutan
Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The Tashichho Dzong ("the fortress of the glorious religion") is a Buddhist monastery and fortress in Thimphu. It was first built in 1641. After fire and earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1902 in the right side of the Wangchu River. It is probably the most impressive building of the city. Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952. 

The fortress, commonly known as Thimphu Dzong, accommodates currently monks as well as the secretariat, the throne room, and some offices of the King. In 1953, the royal family took up residence in the newly built Dechencholing Palace.

Unlike most other dzongs, Tashicho Dzong has two main entrances. One leads to the administrative section to the south, and another at the north leads to the monastic quarter where the dances of the annual tsechu festival are performed. Thimphu Tshechu is a very popular festival held in honor of Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, "the Precious Teacher" or Lopon Rinpoche. Followers of the Nyingma Buddhist School regard him as the second Buddha. Guru Rinpoche was instrumental in bringing Buddhism to Bhutan and Nepal around 800 A.D.

Bhutan today has 29 dzongs (Buddhist monasteries and fortresses), 2,000 gompas (monasteries), and more than 10,000 chortens (stupas).

Other tourist attractions in Thimphu include:
-- the famous sites of Buddha Dordenma Statue and National Memorial Chorten
-- as well as Folk Heritage Museum (Phelchey Toenkhyim), the Centenary Farmer’s Market, the Jungshi Paper Factory, Simtokha Dzong (which hosts the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies), Institute for Zorig Chusum (also known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School), Changangkha Lhakhang, and more.



Marie-France Grenouillet in Bhutan
find here more pictures from bhutan: its population, its festivals, its monuments, its landscapes and particularly its fauna (including golden langurs).

See also

Bhutan > Pictures and travelogues > Festivals in Bhutan

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Pictures from Thimphu sightseeing, Bhutan: Motithang Takin Preserve, Royal Botanical Garden, and Tashichho Dzong. Travel directory and travel guide to Bhutan.