Punakha has been and is one of the pivotal places in Bhutan and was the winter capital until 1955. The Punakha Dzong, standing at the confluence of the Pho-chhu and Mo-chhu and said to be located on a hillock resembling the trunk of a sleeping elephant is a truly breathtaking spectacle.
The temperature varies from 35 degree Celsius during summers to – four degree Celsius during winters. The altitude ranges from 1200 meters to 4800 meters and is one of the most fertile valleys in Bhutan.
Places of interest:
- Punakha Dzong: The Dzong has been a chief attraction for tourists worldwide because of its rich historical background. It continues to be the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and the central Monk Body. The sacred relic ‘Rangjung Kharsapani’ and the embalmed body of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is still preserved and guarded with great devotion and reverence inside the Dzong. The Zhabdrung began the construction of the Dzong in 1637, naming it Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong upon completion. It was from Punakha that the Zhabdrung successfully resisted the numerous Tibetan invasions. The Dzong underwent major renovations in 1986 and 2003.
- Hot springs: Koma Tshachu and the Chhubu Tshachu are popular destinations for Bhutanese as they have much faith in the healing powers of the hot springs. People usually camp at these sites and take occasional dips.
- Chimmi Lhakhang is the temple of fertility, dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, popularly referred to as the ‘Divine Madman’. His sexual prowess was legendary; the many flying phalluses that one sees fiercely adorning the walls of houses and hanging by the rooftops are not just symbols of fertility but a sign of people’s continuing reverence for him. Unlike in the other temples, this is one where you get blessed by a phallus. It is popular destination for women who are unable to conceive.
- Khamsum Yuellay Namgyel Temple
- Khuruthang town – The main town of Punakha is situated at Khuruthang which is located about four Kms away from the Dzong.