Punakha Bhutan (the Old Capital City)
The first stop after leaving Thimphu on the journey East is Dochula Pass at 10,500 feet. Only 45 minutes from Thimphu, it offers visitors their outstanding view of the Himalayan range. The best time to reach Dochula Is dawn when the clouds are thin and the rhododendron are in season. Then the early morning sun casts breathtaking light on the distant mountains framed in shades of red from the brilliant flowers. The road to Punakha branches off left and curls its way down the valley to the relative lowlands of the Punakha Valley. The town of Punakha does not hold many attractions apart from the glorious dzong which dominates the valley floor. Before Thimphu was made capital of Bhutan, Punakha held the title as Winter capital because of its more temperate climate. Thimphu's monk body and the Je Khenpo (leader of Bhutan's religious order) still come to Punakha to pass the Winter. Punakha Dzong was strategically built at the confluence of the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers by the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyel in 1637. It has been destroyed by four fires and an earthquake in 1897 and has frequently been devastated by flood water coming from the great northern glaciers. The Dzong has now been fully restored to its original splendor.
Places to Visit
- Samdruk Jongkhar
Bhutan Festival Dates
Places of interest in Punakha
This Dzong is also known as "Palace of Happiness". It is a massive structure at the junction of two rivers.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Choeten
It is located at an hour hike from the road side. It was built to chase out the negative forces and promote peace.
The temple was built in 1499 and is located on a hillock on the centre of the valley. It is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley. It is widley believed that childless couples who pray at this temple are usually blessed with childern.