Superbly situated at the confluence of the Mother and Father rivers, Punakha Dzong enjoys a picture postcard location. Built by the Shabdrung in 1637, it was only the second dzong to be built in Bhutan. It served as the capital and seat of government up to the mid-1950s, and is even today the venue for the coronation of kings of Bhutan.
It is perhaps the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan, especially during spring when the jacaranda trees splash lilac flowers down the whitewashed walls and red-robed monks walk on a sea of purple petals. It’s elaborately painted carved timbers in deep golds, reds and blacks are an impressive sight.
The dzong is accessed by bridges over the two rivers. Inside lie 21 temples, several courtyards and halls, and a six-floor-high central tower. The most important structures are the ‘100 pillar congregation hall’ decorated with paintings and statues, and the building housing the remains of its founder.
Punakha Dzong has had an eventful history, surviving floods, earthquake, multiple fires, and even an attack by a Tibetan army intent on recovering a precious relic brought to Punakha by the Shabdrung. This battle is re-enacted annually during the winter Dromchen festival.
Armour and weapons taken during battles with Mongols and Tibetans are on display in Punakha Dzong.