the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag, one of the 20 districts of
Bhutan. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955,
when the capital was moved to Thimphu. It is about 72 km away from Thimphu and
it takes about 3 hours by car from the capital Thimphu. Unlike Thimphu it is
quite warm in winter and hot in summer. It is located at an elevation of 1,200
metres above sea level and rice is grown as the main crop along the river
valleys of two main rivers of Bhutan, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Dzongkha is widely
spoken in this district .
Reasons to visit
Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and
still is the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot). Blessed with temperate
climate and fed by the Pho Chu river (male) and Mo Chu river (female). Punakha
is the most fertile valley in the country. There is splendid view of distant
Himalayas at Do Chula Pass (3100 mtrs) from Thimpu – Punakha road.
Built strategically in the junction of Pho Chu river and
Mo Chu river in 1637 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal to serve as religious and
administrative center of the region. Damage by four catastrophic fires &
earthquakes, the dzong has been fully restored by the present king. The dzong is
open for visitors during the festival and in summer months when the monk body
moves to Thimpu.
Talo Dzong is famous for its tourist attraction because of
its ancient architectural design and it is also associated with religious symbol
Nidupchu Lhakhang is one of the oldest and holiest Lhakhang
in Bhutan. It falls under the Chubu gewog.
Handicrafts Emporium in Thimphu has the best range of
handicraft products in town though the prices are somewhat higher than in the
local market. Look for papier-mâché masks, prayer wheels, decorative motifs,
silk-screened handmade paper, rings and ornaments for clothing, and woven wool
or silk clothe.
Most of the festivals (tsechus) in Punakha have some or
other connection with Buddhism. These festivals are celebrated in the Dzongs
with dances, music, and religious allegorical plays. Some of the important
festivals include Bhutanese New Year in January/February, Buddha Parinirvana and
birthday of Guru Padmasambhava in May/June, first sermon of Buddha and Yar
Nyidlok in June/July, Blessed Rainy Day, Thimphu Domchey, and Tsechhu, and Nine
Evils' Day.Religious festivals (Tsechu) are important events and celebrated
throughout the kingdom.