Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until the 1960’s, later it was replaced by Thimphu but it still holds the serene atmosphere of a place with a majestic past. Punakha Dzong is the major attraction of the valley which 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 remarkable structures in the country. Punakha Valley has a pleasant climate with warm winters and hot summers. It is located at an average elevation 1200 meters above sea level. Majestically standing on an island between the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, the Punakha Dzong is one of the most impressive of all Bhutan’s ancient fortresses. An arched wooden bridge connects the Dzong with the mainland and houses many precious relics. The Dzong serves as the winter home of the monastic body.
Punakha Dzong is one of the most beautiful dzong in the country and is the second largest and second oldest dzong in Bhutan. The dzong is situated at the confluence of the two rivers Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. On October 13, 2011, te wedding of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and his fiancé, Jetsun Pema, was held at the Punakha Dzong. The beautiful dzong contains the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan as well as sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani. The dzong was constructed as an “embodiment of Buddhist values” and was one of the 16 dzongs built by the Zhabdrung during his rule from 1594 to 1691.
Standing on a round hillock near Lobesa, Chimmi Lhakhang is the Buddhist monastery built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa, Ngawang Choegyel. Later the site was blessed by the “Divine Madman” the maverick saint Drukpa Kunley (1455-1529). The lhakhang is located 10 kilometers from Punakha near a village called Sopsokha from where a 20 minutes’ walk along muddy and dusty path through agricultural fields of mustards and rice, leads to a hillock where the monastery and the chorten are situated. Chimmi Lhakhang is also popularly known as the “Fertility Temple”.