The ancient monastery of Punakha Dzong

The ancient monastery of Punakha Dzong

The Punakha Dzong was known in ancient times as “the Palace of great happiness”. Punakha was built in 1637. This is the second Dzong built in Bhutan. Until 1955 Punakha was the capital of Bhutan, then the capital was moved to Thimphu. Now Punakha is the administrative centre of one of the 20 districts of Bhutan.

Myths and facts

The Dzong is situated at an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level in a valley where two main rivers of Bhutan, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Punakha is built on a hilly promontory. The rock rises above the river to a height of 10-storey building and stretched a length of 300 meters. The building looks like a big ship.

To the monastery are two of a number of steep steps. On both sides of the huge gate, studded with steel rivets, are little tunnels pierced in the wall of the colon. Above them are seen the narrow holes through which the monitored surroundings. Nestled in a mountain valley, cut off from all sides by winter snows and summer floods, Punakha looks absolutely impregnable. For all history of existence of this jonga no one could win. The Bhutanese, having sat behind the walls of this citadel, was challenged throughout Tibet and other invaders.

In 1907 there was crowned Ugyen wangchuck – the first king of Bhutan. Three years later, in this monastery, an agreement was signed whereby the British agreed not to interfere in the internal Affairs of Bhutan.

In 1987, the Dzong was partially destroyed by fire. Due to its location at the confluence of two rivers, the Dzong is subject to flooding. Flash floods caused damage in 1957, 1960 and 1994. Currently work is underway to protect dzongu from floods by deepening river channels and raising the embankments.

What to see

Jonga are inside the memorial temple Maciej mausoleum c Lhakhang of Zhabdrung, the temple of Naga Jul Boom belonging to the je Kempo, a library with 108 volumes of Kangura — the Buddhist Canon, written in gold letters, and repository of Royal relics.

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