Punakha (Alt. 1250m) – The Former Capital

Punakha served, as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and still it is the winter seat of Je Khenpo (chief Abbot). Blessed with temperate climate and fed by Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) rivers, Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country. There are splendid views of the distant Himalayas at Dochula pass (alt. 3,100 m) on Thimphu – Punakha road.Situated at a lower elevation than Thimphu and Paro, Punakha’s warmer climate makes it one of the most fertile valleys in the kingdom and its vast rice fields stand testimony to that claim.

The township has shifted to a new location a few kilometers downstream from its original site on a river bank opposite the Punakha Dzong. The dzong itself, which housed the first National Assembly (Bhutan’s parliament) in 1952, is the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and the Central Monk Body. It is situated on a spur of land a stone throw above the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. The dzong was built in 1632 by one of Bhutan’s most important historical figures, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, and has played a key role in the civil and religious life of the Bhutanese ever since.


Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lakang, Talo Gompa