Thimphu is the capital and largest city of the Kingdom of Bhutan. It is situated in the western central part of Bhutan and the surrounding valley is one of Bhutan’s dzongkhags, the Thimphu District. The ancient capital city of Punakha was replaced by Thimphu when it was established as capital in 1955, and in 1961 Thimphu was declared as the capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan by His Majesty the 3rd Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
In 1885, a battle was held at what is now the Changlimithang sports ground in Thimphu. The decisive victory opened the way for Ugyen Wangchuck, the first King of Bhutan to virtually control the whole country.
Before 1960, Thimphu consisted of a group of hamlets scattered across the valley including Motithang, Changangkha, Changlimithang, Langchupakha, and Taba, some of which constitute districts of the city today. The city is spread out laterally in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Raidāk River, which is known as the Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu in Bhutan.
Thimphu is the third highest capital in the world by altitude and is spread over an attitudinal range between 2,248 meters and 2,648 meters.
Thimphu does not have an airport. Instead the city relies on the Paro Airport, which is a 54 kilometer drive from the city.
Over the last 50 years, since its establishment as the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu has expanded. Initially the pace of expansion was slow, but then grew more rapid after the country was opened up to the outside world. The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in respect of literature, religion, customs, and national dress code, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and in the media.
A 4 day festival held every autumn in Thimphu, is Tshechu, an important festival when mask dances, popularly known as Cham dances, are performed in the courtyards of the Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu.
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