Beautiful Punakha has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953.
Two of Bhutan’s important rivers converge in Punakha. At their confluence is the majestic Punakha Dzong, an absolute marvel. These rivers are also home to one of the last surviving populations of the critically endangered white-bellied herons. The route from Thimphu to Punakha is quite spectacular and takes travellers over the renowned Dochula Pass, which showcases interesting monuments along its course and offers the awe inspiring opportunity to view the great Himalayan Mountain Range. Driving down from Dochula towards Punakha, visitors can discover the Royal Botanical Park, where an excellent collection of Himalayan plants and good birding sites can be found.
The Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest dzong (a distinctive type of fortress architecture) in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. The dzong houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Kagyu School including the Rangjung Kasarpani, and the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Padma Lingpa.
Chimi Lakhang Temple – considered to be the temple of fertility, stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel, after the site was blessed by the “”Divine Madman”” the maverick saint – Drukpa Kinley (1455–1529).
There are wonderful day hikes into traditional villages around the Punakha Valley.
Summer (May – September)
Min 15°C/59°F Max 32°C/90°F
Winter (October – April)
Min 4°C/39°F Max 27°C/80°F