Located 72 kilometers from the capital city of Thimphu, the Punakha Dzongkhag (or district) is a popular stopover for tourists, offering some breath taking views and monuments synonymous with the heritage of the country. Once serving as the capital of the country (till 1955), Punakha is a valley located along the confluence of two major river systems - Mo Chu and Pho Chu rivers. A major food grain belt, the river system offers very fertile soil for growing the country's indigenous red rice, with many rice paddies found along the river. It is located at an elevation 1200 metres above sea-level, and enjoys mild winters and warm summers, making it a popular destination to visit throughout the year.
The Punakha Dzong (or fortress) is located here; a 16th century Dzong, considered to be the 2nd oldest, but most beautiful of all the Dzongs in Bhutan. Once the Palace of the King of Bhutan, the Dzong now serves as the Winter Capital for the monastic body of the country, presided over by the Je Khempo (the religious leader for the country). The Dzong was built along the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu river systems, and is the site of the famous Punakha Tsechu (or festival) and the Demoche festival.
The Chimi Lhakhang is also located here; a 14th century monastery built on sacred ground consecrated by the "Divine Madman" Drukpa Kunley, a saint known for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism through song, humour and outrageous behaviour, which often amounted to being bizarre, shocking and quite sexual. The temple is also popularly known as the Temple of Fertility, for it is widely believed that couples who do not have children but want one need only pray at the temple for their wish to come true.
A beautiful hike will also take one to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, built to remove the negative forces around the area, and promote peace, stability and harmony in this ever-changing world. The Chorten dominates the Upper Punakha Valley, offering commanding views of the Mo Chhu river and beyond, towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa.
The Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery is also another popular tourist spot; a temple complex located on a hill overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangdue dedicated to the nuns of the faith. The Nunnery also houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre, as well as a number of large statues dedicated to the Buddhist pantheon.
And finally, no trip to Punakha would be complete without a visit to the picturesque town of Talo Sangnacholing, located at an altitude of 2,800m above sea level, and scattered all along the hill slopes. The town is built on a plateau, and offers some truly majestic view of the surrounding villages. It is also a popular belief among the locals that the women of Talo are particular known for their beauty.
|Distance from the hotel||:||71.7 km|
|Commute Time from the hotel
||:||01 hour and 16 minutes by car|
|Best months to visit