Punakha, the headquarters of the Punakha Dzongkhag’s administration, is a significant district in Bhutan. Punakha4Punakha, which is located 72 km from Thimphu, the country’s capital, is a scenic area spanning the valleys of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Punakha is only a three-hour drive from Thimphu by automobile, and if you’re a fan of Mother Nature, you’ll like the drive along the scenic serpentine roads that have the valley on one side and the mountain wall on the other.
Your car will arrive in Dochu La Pass, one of Bhutan’s most romantic locations, in the middle of the journey. Looking down from Dochu La, a famous viewpoint, gives you the impression that you are standing above the clouds. The location from which you may see the Eastern Himalaya for the first time is Dochu La. At an elevation of 3100 metres, Dochu La is where your car will start descending towards Punakha’s lowland. Before Thimphu became the country’s permanent capital, Punakha, which is located at an elevation of 1200 metres, served as its capital. Punakha is a great place to spend the winter because it is warmer than other parts of Bhutan. Every year, thousands of visitors from the nearby neighbouring nations travel to Punakha to take in the city’s captivating natural beauty and ancient landmarks.
The two rivers that have flowed by Punakha are the first item that will impress you. Nature enthusiasts and photographers will adore the lush valleys that surround the town. A leisurely stroll down the riverbank would be perfect to pique your interest in exploration if you don’t want to take a guided tour of the town.
Punthang Dewachen Gi Phodrang: If you choose a guided tour of Punakha, the Punthang Dewachen Gi Phodrang, also known as the Punakha Dzong, is the first place you must see. It is one of the most significant historical sites in the Buddhist nation of Bhutan and was built by Tuebi Zaow Bali during the reign of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is known as the Palace of Great Happiness. The riverbank location of the Buddhist Dzong provides a breathtaking perspective of the natural landscape. Punakha to The Dzong offers other attractions as well. The Central Monastic Body of Bhutan currently maintains its winter residence at Punthang Dewachen Gi Phodrang, where visitors can view holy relics of Rangjung Kasarpani and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Padma Lingpa.The first Bhutanese King Ugyen Wangchuk’s coronation was also witnessed in Punakha Dzong. Additionally, it was there that the British signed a pact promising to refrain from meddling in Bhutan’s domestic affairs. A traditional wooden cantilever river that links Punakha Dzong with the other bank of the Mo Chhu river is another feature that will draw you there.
Chimi Lhakhang: The Chimi Lhakhang is a shrine to Lama Drukpa Kuenley and is located at the summit of a hillock in the middle of Punakha valley. Lama Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the “Divine Madman,” is credited with using songs and his outrageous behaviour to spread his teachings. Actually a temple, Chimi Lhakhang is referred to as the temple of fertility. Bhutanese in Chimi-Lhakhang have a strong belief that couples who come to the temple and ask for children would receive blessings from Lama Drukpa Kuenley. From the road, a charming rural path through a rice field leads tourists to the shrine. You will notice a small brook after passing through the paddy field, and Chimi Lhakhang is located there.
The Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, which was constructed with the intention of driving out bad energies from the earth and fostering peace, harmony, and stability, is located at the conclusion of a short walk on the higher portion of Punakha Valley. The place provides a wonderful bird’s eye perspective of the valley, the twisted Mo Chhu river, and the peaks of Gasa because it is located at a high altitude.
Punakha Ritsha Village: The Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers have greatly benefitted the soil of the Punakha valley. Punakha is Bhutan’s primary rice-growing region due to the soil’s high fertility. Rice is grown in Punakha, especially in the Ritsha village, in both white and red varieties. Ritsha, a typical village at the base of a hill, is a stunning example of Bhutan’s rural lifestyle. You will see mud-built homes resting on stone foundations. In this Bhutanese village, all of the homes are two stories, and each one has a yard with gardens and rice fields. Oranges and papayas are typical garden plants.