Punakha Dzong, Bhutan: History, How to Plan & Best Time to Visit

Poised between two rivers in Bhutan, the awe inspiring Punakha Dzong was built in 1637. Apart from being an important historic site, it also serves as a winter residence of the central monastic body. The second largest Dzong, it was here that the royal wedding of  King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema was held. A majestic six-storied structure it was formerly known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong & is a must visit spot during your trip to Bhutan.

To put simply, a dzong is a fortified building that incorporates administrative & monastic institutions. Apart from serving as the seat for the Government of Bhutan for a few years, it offers a glimpse into Bhutan's rich cultural heritage. With mountains in the backdrop, Punakha Dzong is a symbol of inspiration as it has survived attacks, fires & earthquakes. Additionally, a lot of tourists stop by to look at Punakha Dzong at night while passing by as it makes for a beautiful sight.

The Beautiful Cantilever Bridge

Punakha Dzong History:

The Dzong was constructed using wood, earth & stones by Ngawang Namgyel. Under his rule during the years 1594-1651, he built 16 Dzongs, Punakha Dzong being the second one. Consisting of three courtyards (docheys), the Dzong has a steep stairway & a large wooden door at the entrance. A beautiful large prayer hall was added to the structure after a fire in the year 1986.

Entrance to the Dzong

Today, the visitors are allowed to access only a few areas. Do hire services of a guide to understand better. The first courtyard houses administrative offices, Stupa & a bodhi tree. The central tower also known as Utse is a six storey structure. The second courtyard houses the residential quarters of monks. The main temple, located in the third courtyard  is a majestic sight. Take your time to admire the exquisite woodwork, paintings & murals.

First Courtyard

First Courtyard

First Courtyard

First Courtyard

Second Courtyard

Third Courtyard

Third Courtyard

Every year, the locals celebrate a New Year Festival to commemorate victory against an attack during the years 1939 & 1944.

Punakha Dzong Entry Fees:

Visitors need to pay an entry fees of INR/BTN 300

Punakha Dzong Information:

For more information, do visit the official site here

How Do I Reach Here:

Located in the Punakha valley, the dzong is easily accessible from Paro international airport. Besides, it can also be planned during your transfer from Thimpu to Punakha via hired car.

Best Time to Visit:

Due to it's location at a lower elevation, the dzong can be visited throughout the year. However, do avoid harsh winters as it may get chilly. Moreover, during the month of May purple colored jacaranda flowers bloom, making your visit a magical memory.

Punakha Suspension Bridge:

Visit Bhutan's longest suspension bridge adorned with colorful prayer flags, a mere fifteen minute walk from the Dzong. Approximately 520 feet long, the bridge is used by locals to commute between the dzong & nearby villages. The bridge offers unbeatable views of Po Chu river & the mountain valley.

For more inspiration of places to visit during your Bhutan trip, click here