Thimphu became a town in 1961 and grew as the capital of Bhutan. Before 1960, Thimpu was a small settlement but was developed by the King Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, the 3rd King 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.
The 17th century fortress-monastery on the northern edge of the city, has been the seat of Bhutan’s government since 1952. It was the winter capital till the capital was moved permrnantely moved to Thimphu during the time of 3rd King.
Elsewhere, there is a mix of apartment blocks, small family homes and family-owned stores. By regulation, all buildings are required to be designed in traditional style with Buddhist paintings and motifs. A lively weekend market near the river supplies meat, vegetables and tourist items. Thimphu has a growing number of commercial services and offices which provide for ever-growing local needs.