Punakha Dzong in Bhutan

Punakha Dzong

On our Day 3 in Bhutan, we left the capital city of Thimphu after two days of wonderful cultural immersion and headed to the scenic countryside of Punakha Valley.

Memorial Stupas in  Dochu La Pass, Bhutan

Memorial Stupas, Dochu La Pass

On the way to Punakha, we passed by Dochu La Pass about forty-five minutes outside of Thimpu. Gracing this high mountain pass are 108 stupas 108 chortens  built by Queen Mother to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed when fighting the Indian rebels in 2003. 

From the alpine high pass of Dochu La, the mountain road descended into the lush countryside of Punakha Valley beautifully landscaped with thick forest and terraced rice paddies. 

Rice Paddies, Punakha Valley, Bhutan

Punakha Valley

Rice Paddies, Punakha Valley, Bhutan

Rice Paddies in Punakha Valley

Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

The highlight of venturing to Punakha is a visit to its majestic Dzong. Dzong means fortress and is the administrative and monastic center of a Bhutanese town. 

The Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

Also called Punthang Dechen Phodrang (The Palace of Great Bliss), Punakha Dzong is beautifully situated between the convergence of Phochu and Mochu Rivers ( “male” and “female” rivers),  It is said to be the most magnificent of all the fortresses in Bhutan.

Punakha Dzong Bridge, Bhutan

The Bridge into Punakha Dzong

Built in 17th century, Punakha Dzong served as the capital and seat of goverment of Bhutan before it was moved to Thimphu in 1955. Today, it houses the administrative and judicial offices of Punakha District. 

Entrance to Punakha Dzong Bridge, Bhutan

Entrance to Punakha Dzong Bridge

Punakha Dzong is also the winter home of Bhutan’s spiritual leader, Je Khenpo. He and his retinue of 600 monks migrate to Punakha from Thimphu every November. The Dzong also houses the sacred remains of two of Bhutan’s holiest lama and saint. 

Bride and Groom on Bridge, Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

Tourists Bride and Groom on the bridge into Punakah Dzong

This Dzong is the venue of the coronation of the Bhutanese kings. The recent wedding of the current king was also held here. 

Woman with prayer wheel, Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

A women with a prayer wheel by Punakha Bridge

Main entrance to Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

The entrance to Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

 The Dzongs were designed to protect against invasion. One of the strategic features of this Dzong is the steep wooden entry stairs that can be pulled up. It also leads to a very heavy doorway.

Prayer wheel in Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

One of the two giant prayer wheels the flank the main door of the Dzong. Intricate religious paintings adorn the walls in many part of the Dzong. 

Courtyard, Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

We were greeted by this immense building as we entered into the first courtyard to the Dzong, where the administrative offices are located.

Temple, Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

 We headed into another courtyard that led us into the temple. It was like entering another world.  The interior of the temple is beautiful with exquisite wall murals depicting the life of Sakyamuni Buddha. Unfortunately, photography in the interior of the Dzong and all the temples in Bhutan is prohibited.

Courtyard 2, Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

One of the monastic buildings in the Dzong.

Courtyard,  Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

The monastic courtyard in Punakha Dzong

Courtyard 4, Punakha Dzong, Bhutan.

The Dzongs are perfect showcase of traditional Bhutanese architecture. This Dzong shows  superb examples of grand designs and construction typical in Bhutanese structures.

Architectural Detail, Punakha, Dzong, Bhutan

Window, Punakha, Dzong, Bhutan

Window, Punakha, Dzong, Bhutan

 If the designs look impressive, the construction of the Dzongs are even more amazing. No nails are used in the building of the dzongs and their architects didn’t use any plan and rely only on mental concepts. 


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32 responses to “Bhutan: The Majestic Punakha Dzong

    • Marisol

      Hi Ritva, thanks. Glad you dropped by.

  1. Kira S

    What a beautiful fortress. The architecture is impressive and the details are vey exquisite. It’s amazing to think that they didn’t use a single nail and builidng plan. Such an architectural genius. The landscape with the rice paddies look very scenic and peaceful. Look forward to see more of you post of the Bhutanese countryside.

    • Marisol

      Hi Kira, architectural genius seem an apt description. It truly is amazing. We’ll have a lot more of a countryside for you, so please check back:)

    • Marisol

      Hey Dana, if you want to see the most spectacular rice paddies, my home country the Philippines is the place to be! Although Bhutan’s is gorgeous, too. True, every corner of Bhutan is picturesque.

  2. Andrea

    Hi thanks so much for linking it here, as i was able to see your posts. Bhutan is one place i also dream to visit, I am so envious of your so many travels. How i wish I have the means to be like you! Those splendid shots are so informative. I will browse also on your previous posts.

    • Marisol

      Hi Andrea, glad you found your way here. I really wish with all my hear that you make it to Bhutan sometime soon. Keep the dream alive.

  3. Anwar

    Unbelievable. So incredible. I want to get to Bhutan, the photos are just incredible. Thank you for sharing and thank you and not thank you for making me so very jealous. :)
    Anwar recently posted..Egypt: In the steps of MosesMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi A, thanks! Ha! Ha! Glad you’re jealous. Hope that will male you head there soon! It truly is incredible.

  4. ladyfi

    Wow wow wow – how utterly beautiful! Bhutan is definitely on my to-visit list!
    ladyfi recently posted..Drops of beautyMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Fiona, thank! Hope you get there soon.

    • Marisol

      Hi Rajesh, it is an amazing place indeed.

  5. I love the photo of the woman in prayer. I cannot even imagine the time that was spent on those immaculate buildings. What an incredible art form.

    • Marisol

      Hi Erica, thanks! It’s such an amazing art form indeed.

  6. Hazel

    Thanks for the visual tour of Bhutan; reminds me that I need to write back a friend who lives there :) That prayer wheel, the bride and groom with a dog and the stupas are the most interesting to me.

    Hazel recently posted..ResilienceMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Our pleasure, Hazel! Hope you don’t only get to write but visit your friend in Bhutan as well.

  7. Mitch T

    That first picture made my jaw drop, so beautiful!

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  9. I’m loving reading your blog about Bhutan. We were there in September this year and it had a profound effect on us both. Started as a holiday and ended up more of a life journey. So thanks for the reminders!

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