Punakha Dzongkhag 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. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of the most majestic structures in the country.

Punakha valley has a pleasant climate with warm winters and hot summers. It is located at an average elevation of 1200 meters above sea level. Owing to the favorable climatic conditions, rice grows very well in this region and is the main cash crop cultivated here.

Tourist attraction in and around Punakha

Punakha Dzong
The Punakha Dzong, often referred to as the 'Palace of Happiness', is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. This spectacular emblem of Bhutanese religious architecture sits right at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers and is perhaps the obvious key to unlocking Punakha’s secrets.

So start your visit here. The dzong is believed to be prophesied by Guru Rinpoche. The ‘one hundred pillar hall’, which has exquisite murals, is a sight to see. The Nag Yul Bum Temple has an original volume of the Kanjur, the holy book of the Drukpa school of thought, in gold.

Chimi Lhakhang
The Chimi Lhakhang Monastery calls for at least one visit when in Punakha. This extraordinary temple is popularly known to be the fertility temple among many and is frequented by childless couples and others alike for blessings. Built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley who was popularly known as the ‘Divine Madman’, the temple has a rollicking tale to tell.

The Tantric Buddhist saint is revered both in Tibet and in Bhutan, and known for his crazy wisdom. He is believed to have worshipped the phallus and sought to encourage monks to look above conventional morality, even in ancient days. Tales of his unorthodox methods of teaching are popular throughout town, and it is common to come across houses with paintings of phalluses on their walls for good luck.

Wangdue Phodrang
This is an important gateway to the far-flung districts of Eastern Bhutan. The dzong perched on the ridge overlooks the Punak Tsang Chhu (river) and Dang Chhu. Regarded as the town’s most prominent feature, it commands a remarkable view over both north-south and east-west roads.

Ritsha Village
Rice farming is another attraction of Punakha Valley where both red and white rice are grown along the river valleys of Pho and Mo Chhu (rivers). Take a glimpse into the everyday life of the locals at a typical village. Houses here are made of pounded mud with stone foundations and the gardens usually have fruit bearing plants like oranges and papaya among the organic vegetables.

Khamsum Yuley Temple
Undoubtedly one of the most elaborate temples in Bhutan, it was commissioned by the Queen Mother of the 5th King. The monastery stands on a small hill called Ngezergang, a short distance from town. The complex iconography in this temple is a rarity. The temple is built according to the Holy Scriptures of the Nyingmapa Buddhists rather than methods in engineering manuals.

Here, you can see the finest of spiritual artwork painted on the inner walls and paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of the country. The view from the top is simply spectacular.

Limbhukha Village
Nearby Limbhukha village is known for its peace and tranquility. Legends say that the Limpus (inhabitants of the village) were often peace negotiators in the medieval ages. The yearly festival, called Serda, is celebrated in the memory of this peace and men carry peace flags instead of swords.