Located at a height of 4265 ft., Punakha valley, one of Bhutan’s most scenic destinations, is the perfect place to awaken the nature lover in you. Take in the splendid views of the Himalayas, listen to the sounds of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu rivers that cut through the valley, or simply soak up the serene beauty of this gorgeous valley. Here are the 5 places in Punakha that will convince you that Bhutan is the last Shangri-La:
1. Punakha Dzong
Built in 1967 at the junction of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers, Punakha Dzong serves as the administrative and religious centre of the region. Although it had been damaged by an earthquake and four catastrophic fires, this place was fully restored a few years ago by the present king.
With stunning views of the lush green Punakha valley, Punakha Dzong looks beautiful during the Punakha festival. It’s open for general public during the festival and the summer months. For a truly exhilarating experience, hike to this place through the valley - breathe in the fresh air and witness the majestic views of mountain peaks on your way up.
2. Chimi Lhakhang
Situated on a small hill right in the centre of the valley, Chimi Lhakhang is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley. In 15th century, he used songs and humour to impart his teachings, which got him the name ‘the Divine Madman’.
For centuries, this place of worship has been considered ‘the temple of fertility’. It’s believed that couples who don’t have children are blessed with newborns after praying at this temple.
Walk for about half-an-hour across the field to the temple road. On the trail, you’ll cross rice fields and a tiny stream downhill before the short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
3. Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten
Dominating the upper Punakha valley, this place was built to promote harmony, stability and peace when the country was facing social instability and tough economic times.
Commanding views of the peaks of Gasa across the Mo Chhu river make this place a must-visit for nature lovers.
Located at an altitude of 2,800 metres, this Himalayan village offers majestic views of the mountains. You can visit various farm houses in these villages, most of which have their own beautiful flower gardens. While you’re here, drop by the Talo Monastery to find some inner peace.
5. Punakha Ritsha Village
This model rice growing village is famous for its contemporary techniques of rice farming alongside traditional architecture. Every house in the village has rice fields and gardens with fruit bearing plants like papaya and oranges. Visit this place during harvest season in Bhutan, and you’ll forget even the best vineyard tours of the west.
So what are you waiting for? On your next trip to Bhutan, spend some time with nature in the Punakha valley. You’ll definitely thank us for it.
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