Punakha used to be the capital of Bhutan (from 1637 to 1907) and Punakha Dzong is the second oldest dzong in Bhutan. The dzong which is built at the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan is also considered to be one of the most beautiful dzongs of the country. In 2011, it served as the venue for the royal wedding of the 5th King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema.
The preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and the famous relic ‘Rang-jung Kharsapani’ is also kept in the Punakha Dzong.
Some of the best places to visit in Punakha are:
Located at the ridge above the Punkha Valley, the Khamsum Yulley Nagyal Chorten is a beautiful four storied monastery built by bhutanese craftsmen over a period of 9 years. The temple offers beautiful views of the Punakha valley and also an insight to bhutanese architecture and art form.
Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery surrounded by lush pine trees lies magnificently atop a gentle hill and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Punakha and Wangduephodrang valleys. The nunnery also depicts some of the finest bhutanese architectural craftsmanship and designs through its buildings and sculptures. It is a place where one can enjoy the quiet and tranquility of the nature.
Punkha Dzong is also known as ‘Pungthang Dewa Chhenbi Phodrang’, which translates to ‘The Palace of Great Happiness’ and dates back to the 17th Century. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan, situated between the Pho Chhu (The Male River) and Mo Chhu (The Female River). The dzong also houses some of the most sacred artefacts of the country.
The temple of fertility, Chimi Lhakhang, is one of the widely revered temples in Bhutan, dedicated to the famous saint, Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the divine madman. It is believed that couples who visit the temple can conceive children without difficulty and bad karma. You can learn the many legends and eccentric stories of the great saint from the caretakers and locals around the region. Also, the depiction of phalluses in paintings and crafts shouldn’t alarm you as it is considered to be a symbol of good luck to drive away evil.