Architecture

The traditional architecture of the kingdom of Bhutan is associated with a number of clear-cut architectural concepts and building types that are deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism: majestic and strategically positioned fortress monasteries [dzong], dramatically located temples [lhakhang] and monasteries [gompa], picturesque clusters of village farm houses [gung chim], and various types of religious and votive structures such as Buddhists stupas [chorten], prayer walls [mani], different types of spirit houses [lukhang and Tsenkang] and the technical genius of its cantilever and chain bridges [zam].

Anyone who has had the opportunity to experience Bhutan's unique built landscape will have marveled at it's strikingly beautiful traditional architecture. Most publications that mention Bhutanese architecture tend to emphasize its monumental character and aesthetic intent. It is possible that such object-oriented descriptions of architecture contribute - albeit unconsciously - to what may be called 'monumentalization', 'objectification', and 'concretization' of Bhutan's 'living architectural tradition'. In terms of western values and approaches to issues of cultural preservation and conservation, each and every traditional architectural landscape in Bhutan, each and every building and structure, would seem entitled to conservation.

Bhutanese people having a strong sense of aesthetics much evident in their architecture: Castle - like Dzongs that were erected without single nail and no floor plans, Lhakhangss and Gompas - the first form of religious architecture situated on high peaks, Chortens - constructed in memory of an eminent lala or personage, or to ward-off evil, and Traditional village houses with shingled roofs. These structures are beautifully decorated inside and out with woodcarvings and paintings in a riot of colours and patterns.

Paintings and carvings of Buddha and various deities adorn the walls of temples and shrines.

Articles for everyday use are still fashioned today as they were centuries ago. Traditionally, craftsmanship handed down from generation to generation.