The Punakha Dzong, famously known as The Palace of Great Bliss was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung whose mummified body remains inside The Machen Lhakhang, a temple within the dzong. It is mentioned in history that Zhabdrung passed away while in retreat at the dzong in 1651. It is also known by many other names such as Punthang, Punakha Dzong and Dechen Phodrang. Punakha Dzong is definitely the most attractive dzong that can be seen in Bhutan and becomes more beautiful during spring time when lilac coloured jacaranda trees bloom and add glamour to the dzong’s towering white colour walls. The Punakha Dzong was the second one to be built in Bhutan at a time when the city served as capital and seat of the government till middle of 1950s. It was damaged by devastating floods and fire 6 times and once by an earthquake. While staying at a Paro hotel such as the COMO Uma Bhutan property, you can pay a visit to the historic Punakha Dzong.
Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of Bhutan was crowned at Punakha Dzong. The spectacular Dzongchung also known as ‘little Dzong’ which was erected by Saint Ngagi Rinchen in 1328 is still prominently seen opposite the main Dzong. Tourists have the privilege of visiting the majestic Kuenrey or the Assembly Hall found within the Punakha Dzong. It is remarkable that all the kings of Bhutan from past to present were crowned here without a break. This dzong is still used as the residence during winter by the dratshang or official monks of Bhutan.
There is a fascinating tale that has passed on from generation to generation about how Punakha Dzong came into existence. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche had predicted the construction of the Dzong. According to the prediction, a person by the name Namgyal would arrive at a hill looking like a sleeping elephant choosing the tip of its trunk to erect Punakha Dzong.
Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world.