Architecture, Arts & Crafts

Bhutanese architecture, introduced by Great Lama Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 17th century, consists of fortresses and serves as religious and administrative centers. It can be classified into traditional, fortress, religious architecture, and bridges.

Bhutanese traditional architecture is still prevalent, using materials like timber, stone, clay, and bricks for three-story houses. The architecture is without a formal plan and features multi-colored wood frontages, small arched windows, and a sloping roof. The walls are made of mud and stone, and the upper floors of the house serve as an alter or house paintings, statues, and religious literature. The attic is used for drying meats and chilies, while the ground floor is used for livestock. The doors and windows are decorated with floral, animal, and religious themes, with a curved trefoil.

fortress, is a unique Bhutanese architectural style featuring large courtyards, galleries, and significant features. These fortresses were built on hilltops, mountains, or river confluences, primarily for defense and administrative purposes. Divided into administrative blocks for government and religious use for monk bodies, Simtokha Dzong and Tashi Chho-Dzong are prime examples of Bhutanese architecture, serving as a model for others.

Lhakhangs (shrines) are single-story or more, surrounded by massive walls with intricate carvings on entrances and windows. Upper walls feature red stripes and gilded copper roofs, while internal walls are decorated with religious themes like Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha, and local deities.

Bhutan relies on traditional cantilever and suspension bridges for transportation, which consist of interlocking wooden structures. Cantilever bridges are a popular choice for visitors and can be viewed while in Punakha and Paro. Bhutan also has several large suspension bridges for added safety.


Bhutanese arts and crafts, originating from Drukpa Kagyu, is a unique representation of the Himalayan kingdom’s spirit and identity. The arts and crafts of Bhutan represent the country’s spiritual and intellectual life. To preserve Bhutan’s tradition and culture, the government has established an institute called zorig chusum, where students learn 13 traditional arts and crafts. These 13 arts and crafts are a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage and spiritual life.

  • Shing zo (carpentry)
  • Do zo (stone work)
  • Par zo (Wood carving)
  • Lha zo (paintings)
  • Jim zo (clay arts)
  • Lug zo (Bronze casting)
  • Shag zo (Wood turning)
  • Gar zo (blacksmithing)
  • Troe ko (Silver and Gold smiting)
  • Tsha zo (weaving cane and bamboo)
  • De zo (Paper making)
  • Tshem zo (tailoring)
  • Thag zo (weaving