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Punakha, located in the western part of Bhutan, holds a significant place in the country’s history. It was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955 when the capital was moved to Thimphu. Despite this change, Punakha remains an important cultural and historical site in Bhutan, known for its unique Dzong and its role in the country’s past.

Significance of Dzong

The Dzong, also known as Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, is a fortress-monastery that holds a special significance in the history of Bhutan. Several wars between Tibetan and Bhutanese forces have taken place in Punakha, and it is also home to Bhutan’s most sacred relic. The great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, who unified Bhutan in the 17th century, also spent a significant amount of time in the Dzong.

The Dzong, at an elevation of 1,200 meters, is a striking architectural masterpiece with large white walls and intricate design. Visitors can explore temples, shrines, and courtyards within its walls, gaining insight into Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.

Accessing Punakha

Punakha, 72km from Thimphu, takes 3 hours by car. The district has a distinct climate with warm winters and hot summers. The Pho Chu and Mo Chu, Bhutan’s main rivers, flow through the district, providing fertile land for crops like rice.

Language and Culture

Dzongkha, the official language of Bhutan, is widely spoken in Dzongkhag. The district has a rich cultural heritage, and visitors can experience traditional Bhutanese customs and practices firsthand. Discover and appreciate the Dromchoe festival, traditional food, and textiles.

Punakha is an essential destination for those interested in Bhutan’s history and culture. Punakha district showcases Bhutan’s past and presents it through its iconic dzong and rich cultural traditions. Visitors will leave with a lasting impression of the district, whether it’s their first or return visit.

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