Punakha Dzong is the second largest in Bhutan and the most beautiful of all. Situated at the confluence of the two rivers – Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother), the location couldn’t have been better.
Padmasambhava, one of the most celebrated gurus foretold that “a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, found the peak of the hill, which appeared in the shape of trunk of an elephant as prophesized, and built the dzong in 1637-38
The Dzong was damaged by several fires and flash floods from the rivers but is now restored to its pristine contidion.
This dzong was the seat of the Government of Bhutan till 1955 after which , the capital was moved to Thimpu.
This majestic venue was chosen for the marriage of the King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in 2011. Incidentally, when we were there on 13 October, on the day of their anniversary and the Bhutanese television was broadcasting the recording. It was an experience to watch it.
An old lady in the Dzong. Traditionally, ladies have short hair but as the times are changing, most of the modern girls grow their hair long.
The paintings on the walls depict various gods, many of them are of Padmasambhava popularly known as “Guru Rinpoche”, who introduced Buddhism into Bhutan in the 7th century
Monks having fun with a school kid.
Government officials going back home after a day of work. It it compulsory for all officials to don traditional Bhutanese uniform to enter any office or religious place. The men’s dress is called ‘Gho’ while that of ladies dress is called ‘Kira’
Punakha Festival is one of the grandest in the region. It is attended by people from all villages and far places of the district. The “self-created” image of Avalokiteśvara is displayed during the festival. During this five-day festival, held in February/March, there are some very impressive displays.
The important display is a dramatized play of the Tibetan invasion of Bhutan in 1639 where the Tibetans were defeated.
We had an unforgettable two hours in the dzong, and had had to leave as the dzong was being closed for the day.
This post is written by Saurabh Chatterjee. His aim of life is to see India. He is a travel photographer and a photography trainer.