Punakha is Bhutan’s previous capital and the winter seat of the Central Monastic Body due to its sub-tropical climate. The Punakha Dzong (the palace of great happiness or bliss), built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung (the Father Bhutan), is situated on a triangular spit of land at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu.
The body of the Zhabdrung, who died in 1651 while in meditation at Punakha, is preserved at the Dzong. The Kuenray or the main temple is breathtaking with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver.
Other highlights includes the incredible views from Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten and Chimi Lhakhang, dedicated to Bhutan’s popular saint Drukpa Kuenley, known as the “divine madman” due to his unorthodox methods of religious teaching.