served as the capital of Bhutan until and still it is the winter seat
of Je Khenpo (the chief abbot). Blessed with temperate climate and
owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu
(female) rivers, the Punakha valley produces abundant crops and
fruits. There are splendid views of the distant Himalayas at Dochula
pas (alt. 3,050m) on Thimphu – Punakha road.
Punakha Dzong Built strategically atThimphu town the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo
Chhu rivers in 1637, by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the
religious and administrative centre of the region, Punakha Dzong has
played an important role in Bhutan's history. Damaged by four
catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully
restored by the present King. The Dzong is open for visitors during
Punakha festival and in summer months when the monk body moves to
Chimi Lhakhang The Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the
valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th
century used humour, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatise his
teachings and due to this also known as "Divine Madman". This temple
is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that
couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this
temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is about
30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple. The trail
leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning
"field". It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across
more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten A beautiful hike takes one to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel
Chorten, which was built to remove negative forces and promote peace,
stability and harmony in the changing world. The Chorten dominates the
upper Punakha Valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu and up
towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond.
Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery
Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha
and Wangduephodrang, gleams the magnificent structures of Sangchhen
Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang(Temple). The temple houses a 14-foot main
bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other
statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung
Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of
longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the
country, was the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans.
The temple complex also houses a permanent higher learning and
meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it
provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue
making and thangka painting.
Drive towards Punakha Dzong and later walk across the suspension
bridge (about 200m long) through absolutely fresh breeze and
fascinating view of Dzong. Follow the farm houses gradually climbing
towards Dompala hills. The view of Dzong, Pho Chhu, Mo Chhu rivers and
surrounding village is superb amidst chirpine forests. The climb is
another two and a half hours to Limbukha. Limbukha farmers grow
Bhutan's famous red rice which is supposed to have medicinal values.
This particular rice needs clean mountain spring so that the taste is
good and nutritional value maintained. Limbukha is also known for its
love of peace and tranquility. Legends says that during medieval wars
the "limpus" or the people of Limbukha always volunteered as peace
negotiators. This is also depicted during yearly festival called 'Serda'
when the men are found carrying peace flags instead of swords and
The village of Talo (alt. 2,800m) which is scattered along the hill
slopes, known for its cleanliness and hygiene among Punakha villages.
Talo Sangnacholing is built on a plateau and has majestic view of
surrounding villages. The beautiful farm houses of the village have
its own flower gardens and on the hill slope corns and sweet peas are
grown in abundance. The women of Talo are particular known for their
Punakha Ritsha Village
Bhutan’s Punakha valley is famous for rice farming where both red and
white rice are grown along the river valleys of Pho and Mo Chhu, two
of the most prominent rivers in Bhutan. ‘Ritsha’ meaning ‘at the base
of a hill’ is a typical village in Punakha. The village houses are
made of pounded mud with stone foundations. Each house is only two
storey high surrounded with gardens and the rice fields. The gardens
also usually have fruit bearing plants like oranges and papaya among
the organic vegetables. In the recent years, the farming work is
mechanized and power-tillers instead of bullocks are used to plough
the fields and villagers have become relatively prosperous. This is a
model rice growing village in western Bhutan.
Nalanda Buddhist College
Locals call this place ‘Dalayna’ while the monks refer it as ‘Nalanda
Drive here in the afternoon and enjoy your evening tea supplemented by
the ravishing view in front, along with interaction with local monks.
hh - heritage hotel ; ph -
palace hotel ; bh - boutique hotel ; gh - guest house ; hs - home stay