Pangri Zampa


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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Thimphu attractions

1. Choki Traditional Art School

0.87 MILES

This charitable school trains disadvantaged children in the traditional arts of painting, sculpture and carving. It's in the village of Kabisa, 2km up the…

2. Dechen Phodrang

2.56 MILES

Beyond Trashi Chho Dzong at the north end of town, Dechen Phodrang stands on the site of Thimphu's original 12th-century dzong. Since 1971 it has housed…

3. Supreme Court

2.73 MILES

Bhutan's handsome Supreme Court is a striking dzong-like building with towers topped by bright yellow roofs.

4. Wangditse Goemba

3.09 MILES

Perched high above Trashi Chho Dzong, this hillside goemba was founded in 1750 and is being painstakingly reconstructed by a team of traditional…

5. National Assembly

3.25 MILES

This handsome Bhutanese-style building, across the Wang Chhu from the Trashi Chho Dzong, was built in the 1990s for South Asian Association for Regional…

6. Trashi Chho Dzong

3.29 MILES

This splendid dzong, north of the city on the west bank of the Wang Chhu, dominates the valley, looking out over a cascade of terraced fields. It's…

7. Zilukha Nunnery

3.64 MILES

Just off Gadem Lam, on the hillside above Trashi Chho Dzong, this small, friendly nunnery has links to Thangtong Gyelpo, builder of chain bridges across…

8. National Library

3.75 MILES

The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. For tourists it's of interest mainly for its dzong-like…