It is an old capital of Bhutan and the winter residence for the central monks body. Punakha is 1300m above sea level and is one of the lowest regions in the center Himalayas. The valleys have fertile lands where farmer grow two crops in a year. Punakha is well known for its impressive Dzong built between the two popular rivers.
The site of the impressive Punakha Dzong was blessed by Guru Rimpoche in the 8th century. Guru had prophesied that ‘on the front edge of the hill that looks like an elephant’s trunk a man named Namgay will come and build a Dzong.’
This prophecy came true in 1637 when Zhabdrung Nawang Namay built the Dzong and named it Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, meaning “the palace of great bliss”.
The exceedingly sacred relic, Rangjung Kharsapani – which appeared miraculously from the vertebra of Tshangpa Gari (founder of Drukpa Kagyud School) during cremation, was brought from Tibet’s Ralung monastery to be kept in this Dzong as the main relic. Tibetans attacked the Dzong and attempted unsuccessfully to seize this relic.
The embalmed body of Zhabdrung is still preserved in the Merchen Lhakhang of Punkha Dzong. The hall opposite to the centre tower was used when Ugyen Wangchuk, was presented with the order of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire before he became Bhutan’s first king.
The central monks body resides in the Dzong during winter for 6 months. Visitors are able to visit the huge prayer hall and view sculptures of Buddha in the centre, Zhabdrung Rimpoche to Buddh’s left and Guru Rimpoche on Buddha’s right. One can also see a nice mural painting of depicting the life history of Buddha.
Chemi bears the meaning ‘no dog’. It is believed that the Demon of Dochula was causing a lot of problems to inhabitants in the valleys and the people sought the help of Lama Drukpa Kinley to subdue the demon. To escape capture the demon transformed herself into a red dog but was caught on the Wangdu Phodrang route. Lama Drukpa Kinley buried it under a pile of earth shaped like the breast of a woman. He then built a small Chorten atop this mound and prophesized that a temple would eventually be built. His brother Lama Nawang Chogyel came and built a temple in 1499 AD.
All visitors are blessed with the secret relic of iron phallus and the bow and arrow of Drukpa Kinley. Inside one can see the statues of Buddha, Chenrize and Lama Drukpa Kinley. Painted in great details on the walls is the life history of Lama Drukpa Kinley.
Khemsum Yuelley Namgay Chorten
This Chorten is located 7 km away from Punakha town and is along the Mo-chu, perched high on the prominent ridge overlooking the Yebasa village and the Mochu.
This unique Chorten is Bhutan’s examples of fine and intricate architecture and artistic tradition. It was built to promote peace, stability and harmony, and bless the long-life of the monarch.
Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk was the patron to build this Chorten in 1999 which took 7½ years to complete.
The ground floor contains the images of Phurpa Lhatsho (the Deity of Magic Dagger). The middle floor is dedicated to Throwo Khamsum Namgyel (deity of magic dragger), while the top floor houses images of Throwa Namper Gyalwa. The dome contains the old image of Buddha from Punakha Dzong .