Punakha

General Information

Location: Between Thimphu and Wangdi
Distance from Thimphu: 77 km (3 hrs 15 mins)
Elevation: 1,350m, 4,430ft

Punakha Dzongkhag has nine Geogs with a total of 2001 households. Except for Talo and Guma Geogs, most Geogs are located along the banks of Pho-chhu and Mo-chhu. Despite favorable climatic conditions and very fertile agricultural land, farm productivity is low. Majority of the farm households still lack direct access to motor roads which pose considerable difficulties in transporting farm surplus to market.

Punakha has many religious sites manifested with monasteries, temples and chhortens with significant historical values. The most spectacular view is the diversion of the Pho-chhu and the Mo-chhu and their meeting again, to form the Puna Tsang-chhu. The Dzong stands majestically on the little island formed by the two rivers. It was in Punakha, the first hereditary Monarch, King Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned on 17 December 1907. Punakha served as the winter capital till 1955 and Punakha Dzong continues to be the winter residence of the Central Monk Body.

Tourism Attractions
1. Punakha Dzong
Formerly known as Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (The Palace of Great Bliss), the Dzong was built in 1637 by the Shabdrung. The gigantic Dzong was damaged six times by fire, once by flood and once by an earthquake. On 17th December, 1907, the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here. The Machen Lhakhang, a temple inside the Dzong enshrines the mummified body of the Shabdrung who died in retreat here in 1651. Dzongchung (or the little Dzong), built in 1328 by saint Ngagi Rinchen can still be seen opposite the main Dzong. The Kuenrey in Punakha Dzong is open to the tourists after 9am daily whether the monk body is in residence or not.

Other Attractions
2. Punakha Tsechu
3. Chimi Lhakhang
4. White water sports on Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu
5. Hot Springs