Located at an altitude of 1200 meters Punakha is Bhutan’s old capital. Throughout history it has played a very important role in shaping Bhutan destiny and even today it is home to Bhutan’s chief abbot in winter. In 2011, Punakha Dzong hosted the wedding of the King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the Queen of Bhutan, Her Majesty Jetsun Pema. Therefore, Punakha is of utmost importance to Bhutanese for religious as well as political significance and projects a strong sense of Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.
The valley is basically agrarian in nature with fertile low lands, fed by Pochu and Mochu rivers. In summer the area comes alive with lush green rice paddy fields and in autumn the golden hue of ripening rice. The Mochu and Pochu rivers converges in the valley and provides a perfect venue for cycling, rafting and camping. Nearby areas such as Talo village offers popular spots for picnicking and nature hikes. Chorten Nigpo walks in very popular and takes one through several beautiful villages.
The valley offers wide range of accommodation from high- end hotels to budget hotels. Refer to our hotels in Punakha link for details. While, accommodation option are plenty, it is suggested that rooms are booked prior during events such as Bhutan International Marathon, Punakha Festival and Talo Festival, more details can be obtained in our events calendar. The valley is approximately two and half hour drive from Thimphu, passing through beautiful Dochu La pass. One can choose to do a day tour from Thimphu or alternatively organize an overnight stay. Indian national would require special permits to visit Punakha and it can be obtained from Department of Immigration in Thimphu.
Places to see in Punakha.
Punakha Dzong: Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Dzong sits in the confluence between Mo Chhu and Po Chhu River. One of the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan, it has witnessed coronation of five generation of Bhutan’s kings. The saga began with the coronation of first king of Bhutan in 1907. The interiors of the dzong are one of the best in the country with intricate woodwork at its best.
Khamsum Yuley Temple: Built by Queen Mother of the 5th king of Bhutan to bring universal peace to the world. The temple enjoys one of the best views of Punakha valley. The interiors are intricately hand painted and some of the best Bhutanese art are displayed.
Chhimi Lhakhang: Widely known as the “Divine Madman’s Temple” the temple was built by lam Drukpa Kinley. It is said that, aspiring mothers, wanting to conceive a baby, who visits the temple and prays, will be blessed with one. The phallic symbol, one comes across, in many areas of Bhutan is also associates with Lam Drukpa Kinley and tales of his deeds abounds the walls of Chhimi Lhakhang.
Nalanda Buddhist College: This private college is located in Talo Village. It is a school for aspiring Buddhist monk and provides a glimpse into monk’s way of life.
Ritsha Village: Is particularly very popular for its rice terrace fields, which produces some of the best quality Red rice.
Trophel Tours & Treks is accredited by Tourism Council of Bhutan (License No: 1030972) and member of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Global Sustainable Tourism Council.