Punakha Dzong History

Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dewa Chhenbi Phodrang – the palace of great happiness or bliss, was structured by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637 and is also known as the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan due to the fact that it was built at the confluence of the two main river – Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, offering the stunning vistas and on a lovely day, the sunlight will reflect off the water onto the dzong’s white-washed walls making an especially gorgeous scenery. In 2011, the Dzong once witnessed the memorable ceremonial wedding of the 5th Bhutan’s King, Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema. This Punakha attraction has played an essential role in Bhutan as it was the administrative center and the seat of the Bhutanese official til the capital city was moved to Thimphu and today, it is known as the winter residence of Bhutanese central monastic body beside the administrative headquarter and religious center of Punakha.

punakha dzong - punakha history and festival
Additionally, Punakha Dzong currently is remarkable for the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal – a Tibetan Buddhist lama known as the unifier of Bhutan and the holy relic – Rangjung Kharsapani, a self-created image of Avalokiteswara which mysteriously came out from the vertebrae of Tsangpa Gyarey who was considered the founder of the Drukpa School during the time that he was cremated.

Punakha Festival

Punakha festival is one of the most common and vibrant festivals that is held in west Bhutan right after the popular Punakha Drubchen. The festival attracts people both from the districts and from other regions coming each year to enjoy, to pray, and to feast. Besides the original purpose of the Punakha Festival is spiritual, the festival also aims to show the dramatic action of Zhabdrung Nyawang Namgyal’s victory, in the 17th century, against Tibetan subjugation and surrounding the life of the Bhutanese patron saint, Padmasambhava – saint Guru Rinpoche. One of the most interesting parts of the festival is the revealing of the thongdrol (painting) of saint Guru Rinpoche as people believe that by looking at the painting and praying, their souls will be refreshed and all sins will be clearly washed away.

punakha dzong festival