Punakha

PunakhaPunakha (Altitude: 1350m/4455ft above sea level)

This district is the historical heart of Bhutan. Zhadrung Ngawang Namgyal, popularly known as the unifier of modern Bhutan, established the dual system of government at Punakha. The dual government system was prevalent until Bhutan’s hereditary monarchy was established in 1909. It was here at Punakha the people of Bhutan elected the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Punakha was named the capital of Bhutan in 1651. The first session of Parliament was held in Punakha in 1953. Punakha Dong still serves as the winter residence of the country’s monastic body. The majestic structure of PunakhaDzong itself is a huge tourist attraction. Its architecture and the location are amazing. It is built on the land mass surrounded by male and female rivers. Your guide will be able to explain the significance of this historic place and the structure.

PunakhaDzong is known as Pungthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang (the Palace of Great Bliss). The Dzong houses the sanctum where the relic of Zhabdrung NgawangNamgyel is preserved. All the Kings in Bhutan receive five-color scarves from this sanctum for their coronation.

You could also do rafting, camping and undertake some easy and leisurely trekking at Punakha.

Other attractions include some historic monasteries and temples. One interesting temple is called Chimi Lhaking built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was considered to be a crazy saint. It is believed that couples without children are blessed with one. The contemporary narrative has it that even some tourist couples without children were blessed with one. While you seek blessing, you will be blessed by Lama Drukpa Kuenley’s phallus.