PUNAKHA BHUTAN

Punakha Dzongkhag has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong but it also has one of the most majestic structures in the country.

October 13, 2011 marked an unforgettable wedding of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema which was held at Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong was built at the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, which converge in this valley. It is an especially beautiful sight on sunny days with sunlight reflecting off the water onto its white-washed walls.

In addition to its structural beauty, Punakha Dzong is notable for containing the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani. This relic is a self-created image of Avalokiteswara that miraculously emerged from the vertebrae of Tsangpa Gyarey, the founder of the Drukpa School when he was cremated.

Punakha valley has a pleasant climate with warm winters and hot summers. It is located at an average elevation of 1200 m above sea level. Owing to the favourable climatic conditions, rice has become the main cash crop cultivated in the region.

TOP ATTRACTION

The Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungthang Dewa chhenbi Phodrang, is the administrative centre of Punakha District in Punakha, Bhutan. Constructed by Ngawang Namgyal, 1ˢᵗ Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1637–38, it is the second oldest and second-largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. The dzong houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Rangjung Kharsapani and the sacred remains of Ngawang Namgyal and the tertön Pema Lingpa. Punakha Dzong was the administrative center and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955 when the capital was moved to Thimphu. 

Chimi Lhakhang, also known as Chime Lhakhang or Monastery or temple, is a Buddhist monastery in Punakha District, Bhutan. Located near Lobesa, it stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel, after the site was blessed by the “Divine Madman” the maverick saint Drukpa Kunley who built a chorten on the site. In founding the site it is said that Lama Kunley subdued a demon of Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom” and trapped it in a rock at the location close to where the chorten now stands. He was known as the “Mad Saint” or “Divine Madman” for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humour and outrageous behaviour, which amounted to being bizarre, shocking and with sexual overtones. He is also the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and as flying carved wooden phalluses on house tops at four corners of the eaves. The monastery is the repository of the original wooden symbol of phallus that Kunley brought from Tibet.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Choeten

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chöten — chörten in the Punakha district, Bhutan. This chöten was built in 2004 by HM the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, in Nyizergang — about a thirty-minute walk uphill from the footbridge in Yepaisa Village. It was built in accordance with the instructions of Lopon Sonam Zangpo, with the intention of bringing peace in the world in general, and to clear obstacles for the country of Bhutan in particular. Its exterior is in the form of a pagoda like stupa while the interior consists of four stories containing images of the deities of mandalas of Vajarakilaya. Bartsham Lama Kunzang Wangdi, popularly known as Lama Nyingkula, a close disciple of Dudjom Rinpoche was in charge of the construction of this Chöten. 

Mo Chhu is a major river in Bhutan. The word “Chhu” means “river” or “water” in Dzongkha, the official national language in Bhutan. The river rises in Gasa Dzongkhag near the border between Bhutan and Tibet. From there, the Mo Chhu flows generally southward to Punakha in central Bhutan, where it joins the Pho Chhu from the northeast. The confluence of the two streams is immediately below the Punakha Dzong, which is the winter home of the Dratshang Lhentshog and the Je Khenpo. The combined streams are then joined by the Dang Chhu near the town of Wangdue Phodrang, and the name of the river becomes the Puna Tsang Chhu. The river then flows through Dagana and Tsirang Districts. After leaving Bhutan near the town of Kalikhola, the river enters Assam in India and is known as the Sankosh. The Sankosh ultimately empties into the Brahmaputra

Punakha Suspension Bridge, which is always adorned with colorful prayer flags, is the perfect example of this.

Linking Punakha Dzong to Shengana, Samdingkha, and Wangkha villages across the Tsang Chu River (aka Po Chu), this is one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan. Yet, for a roughly 520-foot-long suspension bridge, it’s surprisingly stable. The bridge offers a spectacular view of the river and valley, and the east bank is a good starting point for multi-day treks in the nearby mountains.

Talo Monastery

Talo situated atop the plateau above Punakha Valley is a quaint hamlet in Bhutan. Perched at an altitude of 9186 ft, Talo is famous for being one of the cleanest and pictorial villages in Punakha. Surrounded with dense forest of tree and conifer, Talo has become one of the must visit places in Bhutan and a favoured sightseeing place in Punakha Valley.

Situated atop the highest point of the quaint Bhutanese village is Talo Sangacholing or Talo Monastery the most prominent attraction of Talo. Talo Monastery also served as the summer retreat place for one of the Zabdrung of Bhutan.