Pangri Zampa

Buddhist Monastery in North of Thimphu

Founded in the early 16th century, this riverside monastery complex houses Bhutan's most important college for traditional astrology. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal stayed here after he arrived in Bhutan in 1616 because the temple appeared in the vision that directed him from Tibet. It's a photogenic stop even if none of the chapels are open, and the whitewashed buildings have colourful curtains on their eaves that ripple like the dress of a flamenco dancer in the breeze.

The complex gets its name from the cantilevered bridge beside the complex, and the two huge cypress trees in front of the temple are said to be the biggest in the country. The well-respected head astrologer here was entrusted to divine the auspicious date for the king's coronation in 2008. The next-door Drolma Zhingkham Lhakhang was built recently by the Royal Grandmother and is dedicated to 21 images of Tara. Above Pangri Zampa, the tall Dechenphu Lhakhang is home to Gyenyen, the valley's protective deity, and is off-limits to tourists.