History & Information About Punakha, Bhutan City

Punakha, the former capital city of Bhutan, is a beautiful destination located in the western part of the country. With a rich history and breathtaking surroundings, Punakha offers a unique experience to its visitors. Let's delve into the history and gather some interesting information about this fascinating city.

Historical Background

Punakha holds great significance in Bhutanese history as it was the capital city until 1955. The city was established in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan. Punakha Dzong, a majestic fortress, was built at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (Male River) and Mo Chhu (Female River) to serve as the administrative and religious center of the region. The famous Punakha Dromchoe festival, showcasing traditional masked dances, is held annually to celebrate Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s victory over invading Tibetan armies.

Geographical Features

Punakha is situated in a fertile valley at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level. Surrounded by lush green hills and terraced fields, this picturesque city offers stunning views of nature's beauty. The valley's mild climate makes Punakha a pleasant destination throughout the year. The prominent rivers, Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, are not only important water sources but also add to the aesthetic charm of the city.

Major Attractions

Punakha has numerous attractions that reflect its cultural and natural heritage.

Punakha Dzong

The magnificent Punakha Dzong, also known as the "Palace of Great Happiness," is a must-visit site. With its impressive architecture, intricate artwork, and serene surroundings, it stands as a symbol of Bhutanese religious and architectural excellence.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten

This beautiful chorten is a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship. Located on a hilltop, it offers panoramic views of the Punakha valley. The hike to reach the chorten is a delightful experience, passing through rice fields, pine forests, and charming rural villages.

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery

This nunnery is perched on a ridge, providing visitors with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Punakha valley. It is a place of tranquility, where one can witness the peaceful lives of nuns.

Local Culture and Festivals

Punakha is deeply rooted in Bhutanese traditions and culture. The locals follow the unique dress code of Bhutan, and the city is known for its traditional arts and crafts. Festivals like Punakha Tshechu, held annually, showcase vibrant mask dances and are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Ecotourism and Adventure

Punakha offers various opportunities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The region is perfect for hiking, with trails leading to breathtaking viewpoints and remote villages. Rafting in the Mo Chhu River is also a popular activity, providing an exhilarating experience amidst stunning landscapes.


Punakha, with its historical significance, natural beauty, and cultural heritage, is a destination that truly captivates the heart of its visitors. This city offers a unique blend of traditions and modernity while preserving its rich past. Visiting Punakha is like stepping into a different world, where tranquility and serenity envelop you.