Punakha has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. The majestic Punakha Dzong is the major sight of tourist attraction as it is a magnificent structure built upon the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan, the pho chhu and mo chhu.
Punakha served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and Punakha Dzong housed the most important seat of the the Druk Desi. The first national assembly was hosted here in 1953 and It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan.
Punakha Dzong has hosted some of the most important and memorable events in the Bhutanese history in recent years such as the Royal Wedding and the Naming ceremony of the Crown prince. The wedding of the fifth king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and Queen Jetsun Pema was held in Punakha Dzong and the naming ceremony of the prince of Bhutan, HRH Jigme Namgyal. Punakha is also the maternal home of the king, Jigme khesar Namgyal Wangchuk.
Punakha valley has a pleasant climate with warm winters and hot summers. It is located at an average elevation of 1200 meters above sea level.
Apart from Sightseeing, visitors can also take up adventures and activities such as white water rafting along the pho chhu/mo chhu, hiking along the valleys and fishing in the warm summer seasons.
Chimi Lhakhang, also known as Chime Lhakhang or Monastery or temple, is a Buddhist monastery in Punakha District, Bhutan. Located near Lobesa, it stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by the 14th Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel, after the site was blessed by the "Divine Madman" the maverick saint Drukpa Kunley (1455–1529) who built a chorten on the site.
In founding the site it is said that Lama Kunley subdued a demon of Dochu La with his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom” and trapped it in a rock at the location close to where the chorten now stands. He was known as the "Mad Saint" or “Divine Madman” for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humour and outrageous behaviour, which amounted to being bizarre, shocking and with sexual overtones. He is also the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and as flying carved wooden phalluses on house tops at four corners of the eves.
The monastery is the repository of the original wooden symbol of phallus that Kunley brought from Tibet. This wooden phallus is decorated with a silver handle and is used to bless people who visit the monastery on pilgrimage, particularly women seeking blessings to beget children.The tradition at the monastery is to strike pilgrims on the head with a 10-inch (25 cm) wooden phallus (erect penis). Traditionally symbols of an erect penis in Bhutan have been intended to drive away the evil eye and malicious gossip.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten stands out on a beautiful ridge above the Punakha valley. Her Majesty built the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck it. It took nine years to build, and Holy Scriptures rather than engineering manuals were consulted to construct this 4-storey temple. It is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. This temple has been dedicated for the well being of the kingdom, its people and all sentient beings. It is a 15-20 mins hike from the suspension bridge.
The Chorten would take a one-hour hike to approach. It offers a beautiful view of the Punakha Valley.
Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, gleams the magnificent structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang. The temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans.
The temple complex also houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting.