Historically, Punakha is one of the most important districts in the country. Some of the most defining events in the country’s history took place in the district.
It was in Punakha that Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal first established the Chhoesid Nyiden, the dual system of government. The district is the old capital of Bhutan.
Sir Gongsar Uguen Wangchuck was elected the first hereditary king of Bhutan in Punakha in 1907. And the first session of the country’s Parliament was held in Punakha Dzong in 1955. The Dzong continues to serve as the winter residence of the central monastic body.
Punakha Dzong, also known as Punthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang or the ‘Palace of Great Bliss’, houses the sacred Machen Lhakhang, the sanctum where the relic of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal is preserved. It’s from this temple that the kings of Bhutan receive their blessings and ceremonial scarves for their coronation. Punakha has several ancient temples like Chimmi Lhakhang that honors Lama Drukpa Kunley, known as the ‘Divine Madman’. Other holy sites are Talo Sanga Choling, Nyeb Goemba, Tsephu Monastery, and Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten.
The people of Punakha speak the national language Dzongkha. The climate is warm and humid with relatively cool winters. Paddy is the most popular crop of Punakha. The highlanders of Gasa come to Punakha to trade their dairy products with essentials. Punakha Domchoe is the major festival of the region and draws thousands of tourists each year. Other religious festivals include Talo Tsechu and Dado Tsechu. Tourists also go rafting on the valley’s Mochu River.
Punakha Dzong, Chimme Lhakhang, Talo Sanga Choling, Nyeb Goemba, Tsephu Monastery, Dzongchhung, Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten.