road winds up from simtokha Dzong into pine forest and through small villages
for 20 kilometers and then opens miraculously onto the northern ridge of the
mountains. The view over the Himalayan panoply at Dorchula pass at 10,500 feet
is one of the most spectacular in all Bhutan.
Punkha lies about two hours drive from Dorchula down low in its valley. Commanding
a sparse population, punkha Dzong is home to the central monk body and the Je
Khenpo during the milder winter months.
A temperate climate and natural drainage from the phochu(male) and Mochu (female)
rivers, the fertile punakha valley produces abundant crops and fertile punakha
valley produces abundant crops and fruit. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan
Punakha Dzong was strategically built at the junction of the two rivers in the
17th Century by the first Shabdrung to serve as the religious and administrative
center. In spit of four catastrophic fires and a devastating earthquake that
destroyed many historic documents, punakha Dzong houses sacred tempes including
the Marchen where the embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal lies in state.
The Dzong has been fully restored by the present king. In 1993 the largest thongdrel,a
religious embroidery composed entirely of appliqué on silk brocade, that
has ever been created was dedicated to the Dzong and the people of the punakha
valley by His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Je Khenpo at a three-day
consecration which brought together Bhutans highest nobility.
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