Built in 1637 under the command of the 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, Ngawang Namgyal is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang which is also known as the Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong houses the sacred relic of southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism including the Rangjung Kasarpani and the sacred remains of Ngawang Namgyal and the tertön Pema Lingpa. The dzong is also said to have the most beautiful and grandiose structure in the Bhutan which has hyped the interest of travelers making Punakha Dzong the prime attraction of the former capital of Bhutan. The name Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang stands for The Palace of Great Bliss in Bhutanese language
Sited in the small island amidst the confluence of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers, Punakha Dzong is the epitome of grand and luxuriance. The first king of modern Bhutan, the 3rd Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was crowned in Punakha Dzong along with the wedlock ceremony of 5th King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. The grandiose Punakha Dzong has withstood against the many seen and unseen damage cause by fire and earthquake. Tourists during their visit can admire the traditional architecture which has been maintained even after being 6times damaged by the earthquake. The walls and ceiling of Punakha Dzong is adorned by the mesmerizing paintings of the magnificent dragons and awe-inspiring statue of Buddha which was flanked by the Guru Padmasambava and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. According to the traditional Bhutanese legend, the sage Padmasambava prophesized that “A person named Namgyal, will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. Made with only natural component, Punakha dzong is unusual in that it has three docheys instead of the usual two. The first (northern) courtyard is for administrative functions and houses a huge white chorten and bodhi tree. In the far left corner is a collection of stones and a shrine to the Tsochen, queen of the naga (snake spirits), whose image is to the side. The second courtyard houses the monastic quarters and is separated from the first by the utse. In the southernmost courtyard is the temple where the remains of the terton, Pema Lingpa, and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal are preserved. The Zhabdrung died in Punakha Dzong, and his body is still preserved in the Machey Lhakhang (machey means 'sacred embalmed body'), which was rebuilt in 1995. At the south end is the ‘hundred-pillar’ assembly hall (which actually has only 54 pillars). The exceptional murals, which were commissioned by the second druk desi, depict the life of Buddha. Punakha Dzong also houses one of the Bhutan’s most treasured possessions an image of Chenresig that is kept in the Tse Lhakhang in the utse of the Punakha Dzong. It was brought to Bhutan from Tibet by the Zhabdrung and features heavily in Punakha's famous dromchoe festival.
Strolling in the great hall of Punakha Dzong and admiring the vibrant murals adorning the pillars, ceiling of Dzong can give a sense of tranquility to the visitors. Surrounded with verdant juniper trees the sight of white washed dzong gleaming under the lights reflected from the meandering mountain stream with the backdrop view lofty Bhutan Hill has ensnared the heart of many travelers, making Punakha Dzong a must visit destination of Bhutan.
Spring season from March to May and autumn season from September to November are considered the best time to visit Punakha Dzong. During this time of the year tourist can enjoy the temperate weather and pristine beauty of the surrounding valley covered in the vibrant color riot of blooming flowers.