Punakha at a glance

Punakha is a town in the Himalayas of Bhutan. It's known for the Punakha Dzong, a 17th-century fortress at the juncture of the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers. The fortress hosts the Punakha Tshechu, a religious festival featuring masked dances and music. In the surrounding Punakha Valley, temples include the fertility-focused Chimi Lhakhang and the hilltop Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which has river and mountain views.

Punakha valley is famous in Bhutan for rice farming. Both red and white rice are grown along the river valley of Pho and Mo Chu, two of the most prominent rivers in Bhutan. Ritsha (meaning at the base of a hill) is a typical village in Punakha. The village houses are made of pounded mud with stone foundations. Each house is only two storeys high. Surrounding the houses are the gardens and the rice fields. The gardens also usually have fruit bearing plants like oranges and papaya among the organic vegetables. The village is 1km away from Punakha-Gasa high-way and currently the villagers are engaged in constructing the 1km farm road. In the recent years, the farming work is mechanized and power-tillers instead of bullocks are used to plough the fields and villagers have become relatively prosperous. This is a model rice growing village in western Bhutan.

Area 1,200 m (3,900 ft)
Capital Punakha dzongkhag
Population 23,462
Official Languages Tibeto-Burman
Boundary

Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness) or Punakha Dzong was constructed by Tuebi Zaow Balip under the great command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637 and believed to have been completed in a two year time period. It is also the country's most beautiful Dzong. It is the winter residence of Bhutan's Central Monastic Body led by HH the Je Khenpo. The Dzong houses the most sacred relics of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu school including the Rangjung Kasarpani, and the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Tertön Padma Lingpa.

In 1907, Punakha Dzong was the site of the coronation of Ugyen Wangchuck as the first King of Bhutan. Three years later, a treaty was signed at Punakha whereby the British agreed not to interfere in Bhutanese internal affairs and Bhutan allowed Britain to direct its foreign affairs.

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