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.
The high mountains and deep gorges of Bhutan lend themselves to suspension bridges. Punakha Suspension Bridge, which is always adorned with colorful prayer flags, is the perfect example of this.
Punakha Bridge is only about half a mile from Punakha Dzong, but it can easily be missed, as it’s not on the main road. To find it, head north from the dzong past the cremation grounds, following the Puna Tsang Chu River, either via rural roads on the west bank or via Trashigang-Semtokha Highway.
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 (1455–1529) who built a chorten on the site.
The Lhakhang is located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Punakha near a village called Sopsokha from where a 20 minutes walk along muddy and dusty path through agricultural fields of mustards and rice, leads to a hillock where the monastery and the chorten are situated. Prayer flags are lined all along the road from the tiny village hamlet known as Yowakha, along a drain or stream to the monastery. All houses in the village have paintings of phalluses on their exterior walls. The lama Kunley had called the hillock where the monastery exists as the breast of a woman because of its round shape.
Khuruthang Lhakhang & Chorten is a relative new contruction. It was built by the Quenn’s mother in 2005 but is not popular. Probably the reason for this is that it is overshadowed by the majestic Punakha Dzong. Inside the complex is the large chorten which is built in a Nepali style with the all seeing eyes of Buddha on all sides and an amazing prayer wheel.