Perched at an elevation of 1200mt is the former capital of the scenically blessed kingdom Bhutan, Punakha. Located 72km from the present capital city Thimphu, Punakha used to be the capital and the seat of government till 1955. Founded in 1577 sited at the junction of River Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu, Punakha still retains the serene ambiance of a place with the regal past. The luxuriant Punakha valley is blessed with the most fertile land in the region due to its unique location along the bank of meandering mountain stream making rice the main crop of the scenically blessed river valley. Along with Paro and Jakar, Punakha completes the triangle of most popular tourist destination in the land of Thunder Dragon Bhutan.
Surrounded by the lofty mountains dotted with lush alpine forest, the former capital Punakha is famous in the region for its white and red rice farming. Blessed with the luxuriant land, Punakha is not only renowned for its regal past and rice production, but also for its magnificent architectural feat seen in the Punakha dzong and its astounding trekking route which has lured tourists traveling to Bhutan. Built in 1637 under the commandment of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Punakha Dzong or Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness) was constructed by Tuebi Zaow Balip. Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang is the Bhutan’s most exquisite dzong and also the winter residence of the Bhutan’s Central Monastic Body which is led by H.H. the Je Khenpo. Unlike Thimphu which get bit cold during winter, Punakha due its lower elevation is blessed with a temperate weather during winter season. The sight of white washed two stories Dzong gleaming under the reflected light of the river stream is a view which has mesmerized the travelers visiting Punakha. The verdant alpine forest surrounding the scenic river valley Punakha is dotted with the most fascinating trekking route making Punakha a favored trekker’s hub in Bhutan. The trekking routes lead the trekker towards some pictorial destinations around Punakha which include tshachu (hot springs) and many decades old cave with some historical significance.
Watching the emerald blue river stream cascading through the lofty mountains while being engulfed by the serene ambiance of the regal valley Punakha can be a surreal experience to rejuvenate the tired soul. From the marvelous dzong to fascinating trekking routes through the alpine forest, the vibrant beauty of Punakha is sure to woo the hearts of travelers.
Every season has its own charm to be relished in Punakha but spring season is considered the best time to visit Punakha when the tourist can enjoy the pleasant weather along with the vibrant color riot of blooming flowers and rhododendrons.