Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan. It still serves as the winter residence of the central monastic body. It is about three hours drive from Thimphu across Dochula pass. Driving down the Dochula pass will lead you to the warmer fertile valley. The weather here is temperate and it lies in the sub-tropical valley. The town is relocated to Khuruthang, 3 kms before reaching Punakha Dzong.

Places of Interest: Monuments

Punakha Dzong called the “Palace of Happiness” is the second dzong to be built in Bhutan after Simtokha Dzong. Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it lays between the two rivers Mochu (Female River) and the Pochu (Male River). The dzong is the most beautiful and most associated with the historical events of Bhutan. It was here where the first hereditary monarch, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten perched on the hill opposite the river bank, is about 45 minutes hike from the road. It was built to remove the negative forces and promote peace in the country.

Chimi Lhakhang also called the “Temple of Fertility” was built in 1499 by Lama Drukpa Kuenley known as the “Divine Madman”. It is half an hour walk from the road across the local village and paddy field. It is believed that childless couples who pray at this temple will be blessed with children.