The first capital of the Kingdom of Bhutan, the city of Punakha has a special spot in the history books of Bhutan. For 300 years, this beautiful city located at 4430 feet above the sea level was the country’s winter capital. Initially a Dzong [monastery] was built in the Punakha village during the 17th century AD. Later it expanded to become a lively city and the seat of the king. The Punakha Dzong houses the most sacred relic that the Shabdrung Namgyal [the one who unified the whole country of Bhutan] brought himself from Tibet. This Dzong is a spectacular piece of Bhutanese architecture which stands on a small strip of land at the confluence of the Mo and Pho rivers.
Apart from the Punakha Dzong, out of all the best places to visit in Punakha, the Chimi Lhakhang Temple tops the list. It is also known as the temple of fertility. The temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley, the famous Divine Madman who with his rather revolutionary way of teaching changed the whole perspective of practicing Buddhism. Couples from all over the World who suffer from infertility come here for blessings. It is said that by doing certain rituals here the couples are blessed with a child very soon.
For the adventure junkies, Punakha offers some splendid hiking routes to the mountain tops like the Mendegang Hike, Gilligang Hike and the Nobgang Hike. River rafting across the Mo River is another exhilarating activity that tops the checklist of the adventure activities in Bhutan. Punakha also boasts of the longest suspension bridge in in Bhutan.