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About Punakha

Ever thought of witnessing masked dance performances backed with captivating music? Here, in the Himalayas of Bhutan in a small town called Punakha, there is a famous 17th-century fortress where you can see the 'act' known as Punakha Tshechu live! The site is located at the meeting point of the Mo and Pho Chhu rivers. The 'pretty as a picture' town rests at a height of 1200 m above sea level. The language commonly spoken here is Dzongkha. 

 History 

Punakha served as Bhutan's capital until 1955 after which the capital shifted to Thimpu. Bhutan has 20 districts, out of which Punakha is one. It is located at a distance of 72 km from Thimpu. The Punakha valley situated along its two most important rivers Pho and Mo Chhu is well known for its rice farming. Also, oranges, guavas, and bananas are grown in Punakha extensively. 

How to reach? 

If you're traveling by air, take a flight to Paro International Airport, and catch a bus or taxi till Punakha valley. The distance is 124 km approx. Alternatively, Punakha is a three hours' drive from Thimpu; so, you can take a fun road trip starting from there too!  

Best time to visit 

The ideal time to visit Punakha is between the months of March and May (Spring season) and September and November (Autumn season). During these months, the days are warmer and almost dry whilst evenings are a little cooler and relaxing!  
On a comparison, tourists prefer the Spring season more because the temperature ranges between 26° Celsius (max) to as low as 5° Celsius (min). Also, the travelers get to engage in adventure sports like rafting and trekking during this season. 

Clothes to be carried? 

If you're visiting Punakha during the months of March to July, you should carry light clothes. The nights can be a little cooler, so it is advisable to carry light woolens.  
If you want a wintry experience in Punakha, remember it will get extremely cold, hence you must carry windbreakers, fleece jackets, and lots of warm clothes. 

Places to visit in Punakha 

There are a number of delightful sights in Punakha that you as a sightseer will love! Check out the list of the must-visits there.  

  • Chimi L'hakhang Temple: This is a beautiful Buddhist monastery located in Punakha district that was built in 1499 by Ngawang Choegyel who was the 14th Drukpa hierarch. It is situated in a village named Sopsokha which is at a distance of 10 km from the Punakha town. Starting from the village hamlet called Yowakha till the Chimi L'hakhang temple, you will find prayer flags lined up by the side of the roads or along a stream or drain. It is an amazing place to visit! BTW, did you know the Bhutanese people treat the place as a temple of fertility? Oh yeah! 

  • Punakha Dzong: Built by Tuebi Zaow Balip in 1637 within a span of 2 years, Punakha Dzong is believed to be Bhutan's most beautiful and bewitching Dzong. It is known to be the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan which is guided by His Holiness the Je Khenpo (spiritual head of Bhutan). Here in the Dzong, you will find the most sacred remains of Terton Padma Lingpa and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, along with the holy relics of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu school which includes the Rangjung Kasarpani.   

  •  Punakha Suspension Bridge: Built on the Pho Chhu river with a length of over 50 meters, the Punakha Suspension Bridge is the longest bridge in Bhutan and is a spectacular sight to watch, and an experience to remember when you walk over it! The river flowing below the bridge where you can witness occasional rafting, and the picturesque mountain view all around it, will grasp your attention for sure; and you'll love the 'sway'! It is advisable to not use the bridge during the rainy season because there are chances of strong winds blowing and heavy showers which make it difficult to cross the bridge. 

  • Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery: 

Looking over the Punakha, Wangduephodrang, and Toebesa valleys, the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery is a nunnery plus a double storeyed temple! Here, you'll get to see a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara, and figures of Gautama Buddha, Guru Padmasambhava, Tsela Namsum amongst others. The nunnery complex, on the other hand, houses 70 rooms which were first started by 41 nuns. The architectural design of the entire setup is what makes the place stand out!

Summary
Pack your bags and leave immediately to witness this small and beautiful district called Punakha in Bhutan. The place is sure to soothe your senses and rejuvenate your whole mind and body. Go on, you deserve this holiday! 

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