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Thimphu became a town in 1961 and grew as the capital of Bhutan. Before 1960, Thimphu was a small settlement but was developed by the King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk to replace the ancient capital of Punakha. Today the city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chuu river valley, with several government offices located around Tashichoe dzong. Rapid expansion following the pattern of rural exodus has resulted in considerable rebuilding in the city centre and mushrooming suburban development elsewhere. Norzin Lam, the recently upgraded main thoroughfare, is lined with shops, restaurants, retail arcades and public buildings.

Reasons to visit
Thimphu is served by a 'City Bus' service which operates throughout the day. Plans have also been made to construct a light tram along the banks of the Wang Chhu that is both environment-friendly and efficient. The most exciting tourist attractions and travel destinations of Thimphu are given below.

Tashichoedzong hosts a colourful masked-dance festival (tsechhu) at the end of summer, which is popular with tourists. A new Tsechhu ground which can take in the capacity of both tourists and the locals is under construction and is expected to be completed by June 2008. Thimphu is one of two national capitals in Asia that does not have traffic lights (the other is Pyongyang, North Korea). Local authorities had installed a set of lights but before they became operational the lights were removed. Instead of traffic lights, the city takes pride in its traffic police that directs the oncoming traffic with their dance-like movement of their arms and hands.

The Memorial Chorten     
The Memorial Chorten dominates the skyline of Thimphu. This Chorten is dedicated to the Third Druk Gyalpo (King), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck after his sudden death while travelling abroad. A great amount of renovation is taking place for the 2008 celebrations to mark the Century of the Monarchy in Bhutan.  

The National Library  
The National Library (1967) built in the style of a traditional temple contains a large collection of religious books and manuscripts in Dzongkha and Classical Tibetan and a collection of English-language books. It also contains a copy of the largest published book in the world. 

The Buddha Dordenma 
The Buddha Dordenma statue, the largest Buddha statue in the world, is under construction on a mountain top called Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the city. The statue will be finished in 2008.

The National Folk Heritage   
The National Folk Heritage Museum displays traditional Bhutanese ways of life in a traditional Bhutanese house. It is an interesting view in to Bhutanese culture and domestic lives of the Bhutanese. There are also Bhutanese dances and exhibits held in the Museum Compound.

VAST(Voluntary Artist's Studio) 
VAST (Voluntary Artist's Studio, Thimphu) located along Chang Lam is a busy place with after-school and weekend drawing and painting classes for youngsters conducted by volunteer artists. A gallery on the top floor exhibits a mixture of both traditional and contemporary works. There is also a small library and coffee shop where budding artists are encouraged to meet.

Thimphu offers a wide range of products to the tourists to take back home as souvenirs. Handicrafts Emporium in Thimphu has the best range of handicraft products in town though the prices are somewhat higher than in the local market. Look for papier-mâché masks, prayer wheels, decorative motifs, silk-screened handmade paper, rings and ornaments for clothing, and woven wool or silk clothe. Other important items that you can look for in the markets are precious stones and postage stamps (available at the General Post Office).

Festive celebrations
Most of the festivals (tsechus) in Bhutan have some or other connection with Buddhism. These festivals are celebrated in the Dzongs with dances, music, and religious allegorical plays. Some of the important festivals include Bhutanese New Year in January/February, Buddha Parinirvana and birthday of Guru Padmasambhava in May/June, first sermon of Buddha and Yar Nyidlok in June/July, Blessed Rainy Day, Thimphu Domchey, and Tsechhu, and Nine Evils' Day.The tsechus are the most colourful of all Bhutanese gatherings and celebrated at every Dzong (fortress). All tsechus are celebrated as religious festivals, commemorating the deeds of Buddha, to honour Guru Rimpoche Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to the country, Buddhist saints or Lamas.