Tashichho Dzong, Bhutan – Your Essential Travel Guide

Tashichho Dzong - one of the unforgettable things to do in Thimphu

Tashichho Dzong, popularly known as Thimphu Dzong, is located on the banks of Wang Chu River in the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu.

It has been the seat of the Bhutanese Government since the 1960s when Bhutan’s capital was moved from Punakha to Thimphu.

This majestic dzong not only serves as the administrative center housing offices of the king and various ministries but also as a religious center.

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Background and History of Tashichho Dzong

Tashichho Dzong was first built in 1216 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanapa, founder of the Lhapa branch of the Drikung Kagyu.

The original structure was erected at the site where Dechen Phodrang Monastic School stands now.

Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, popularly known as the unifier of Bhutan, took over the dzong in 1641. He reconsecrated the dzong and renamed it to Tashichho Dzong.

Tashichho Dzong interiors

It was the main seat of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu and the summer residence of the monastic body headed by Shabdrung Rinpoche.

In 1772, a massive fire destroyed most of the original dzong. It was rebuilt by the sixteenth desi (regent), Sonam Lhudrup, and was consecrated by the thirteenth Je Khenpo (chief abbot), Je Yonten Taye.

Tashichho Dzong was destroyed by fire several times and each time, a new dzong was rebuilt.

The present structure of the dzong was built by the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1962 after Thimphu replaced Punakha as the capital city.

Things To Do There

Explore The Dzong From Inside

The dzong is designed like a fortress in traditional Bhutanese architectural style. It is a two-storied building with three-storied towers at each of the four corners.

Tashichho Dzong entrance leading to administrative section
Administrative Block Entrance

There are two main entrances: one entrance leads to the administrative block and the other one to the monastery. Visitor entry is from the monastery-side entrance.

You will be allowed to go in after the security check. A flight of stairs from the entrance brings you to a huge courtyard.

The walls on both sides of the staircase are adorned with fresco paintings of Buddhist guardian deities.

mural of a deity at Thimphu Dzong
Mural of A Buddhist Deity

The administrative section is not accessible to visitors, however you can visit the throne room.

It houses a gigantic statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, thrones of the present king, and the chief abbot of Bhutan.

courtyard - Tashichho Dzong
Dzong Courtyard
a temple inside Tashichho Dzong
A Temple Inside the Dzong

Watch The Flag Lowering Ceremony

There is a flag lowering ceremony at the dzong every day in the evening.

As part of this, the royal flag of Bhutan is taken down, folded, and carried away by the royal military in a ceremonial procession.

flag lowering ceremony at Thimphu Dzong
Flag Ceremony Rituals

The complete affair is administered by the official representatives and priests. It’s only after the ceremony that visitors are allowed inside the dzong.

Thimphu Tshechu Festival

An annual 3-day festival, Thimphu Tshechu is held in Tashichho Dzong courtyard in the month of September.

It is celebrated in honour of Guru Rinpoche, a greatly venerated figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

This vibrant festival features traditional dance and music performances as well as religious rituals. The performers are dressed in colourful costumes and masks.

If you happen to attend this festival, you will love this spectacular display of Bhutanese culture and spirituality.

Soak in The Surrounding Vistas

Tashichho Dzong, tucked amidst the rolling hills of Thimphu, offers some of Bhutan’s most gorgeous scenery.

view from Thimphu Dzong
Outdoor View From Tashichho Dzong Complex

You can stroll around and find plenty of photo opportunities. The famous Buddha Dordenma Statue of Thimphu is also visible from here.

Where To Stay

It is mandatory for foreign nationals to book their Bhutan trip with a registered tour operator. So, your hotel reservation possibly will be done by your tour provider.

However, tourists from India, Bangladesh, and Maldives can choose to travel independently in Bhutan. If you are planning to book the hotels on your own, here are our top recommendations.

Luxury: Pemako (Formerly Taj Tashi)

Mid-range: City Hotel Thimphu

Budget-friendly: Hotel Gakyil

How To Get There

Thimphu is roughly 48 km from the airport town of Paro. No matter which part of the world you are coming from, you will land at Paro Airport.

From Paro International Airport, it is close to 1.5-hour drive to Thimphu.

Tashichho Dzong is approximately 3 km from the city center (Clock Tower Square). It takes just about 10-15 minutes to get there from the Clock Tower.

Tips For Visiting Tashichho Dzong

  • During office hours, tourists are not allowed inside the dzong.
  • You need to wait for the flag lowering ceremony to finish to see the dzong from inside. The ceremony usually starts at 5 pm and finishes in about half an hour.
  • Dress modestly and make sure your arms and legs are covered.
  • Do not wear shorts, sleeveless tops, mini-skirts, caps/hats, slippers/flip flops.
  • Like any other temple in Bhutan, removing your footwear is mandatory when visiting the temple within the dzong.
  • Photography inside the temple is strictly forbidden. However, you can click pictures in the outdoor area.

Further Reading

Find more inspiration for your upcoming Thimphu trip.

10 Very Best Things To Do in Thimphu.

Cheri Monastery Hiking Guide.

Dochula Pass – How To Plan Your Visit.

Buddha Dordenma – Complete Guide To Planning A Trip.

Over To You Now…

We hope you found our guide to Tashichho Dzong informative and helpful. Have you visited this historic dzong in Thimphu? Let us know in the comments below.

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