Punakha Dzong and Phobjikha Valley
December 10, 2023
Whenever I mention to anyone that I recently visited Bhutan, I get the same response, “I have always wanted to visit Bhutan.”
Why? I am not sure that anyone can explain it. Bhutan just lives in our imagination.
When you visit Bhutan, I recommend these sites:
Puna Mochhu Bazam...The Punakha Dzong...Phobjikha Valley
Puna Mochhu Bazam
Puna Mochhu Bazam Opened on 12 May 2008
The only wooden bridge, with the longest unsupported span worldwide, considering the applied structural methods, the 55m long (180 ft) Puna Mochhu Bazam at Punakha will be opened to the public today by Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley and executive chairman of Pro Bhutan Association, Harald N Nestroy.
A sleek creation of Walt+ Galmarini AG, a renowned engineering company specialized in designing bridges, the bridge is the prototype of a hybrid construction, using a mix of medieval traditional designs and innovative modern technology.
Since the Dzong and the bazam come under the “red area” of potential danger from glacial lake outburst floods, the new concrete foundation has special protection with thousands of boulders and concrete blocks placed into the riverbed.
For the security of the people using the bridge in future, invisible steel elements have been incorporated to stabilize the high bridge arch and prevent it from twisting or falling sideways.
Construction began in mid-2006, two years after the Pro Bhutan Association was approached by the then Prime Minster Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup.
The Punakha Dzong
The Punakha Dzong (the palace of great happiness or bliss) is the administrative center of Punakha District in Punakha, Bhutan.
The dzong was constructed by Ngawang Namgyal in 1637–38. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. The dzong houses the sacred relics of the southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Rangjung Kasarpani and the sacred remains of Ngawang Namgyal and the tertoen Pema Lingpa.
The Dzong is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley. The source of the Mo chu river is in the northern hills of Ligshi and Laya in Bhutan, and in Tibet. The Pho Chu River is fed by glaciers in the Lunana region of the Punakha valley. After the confluence of these two rivers, the main river is known as Puna Tsang chu.
In view of the healthy climate in the region, Punakha is the winter capital of Bhutan. The head of the clergy of Bhutan with his entourage of monks spend the winter in this dzong. Jacaranda trees grow around the dzong, blooming with mauve flowers in the spring.
The Picturesque Phobjikha Valley in the backdrop of the Black Mountain Range, with rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. This coupled with the religious importance of the Gangtey Monastery, has attracted religious and ecotourism to the valley. Phobjikha valley is also called Gangtey valley.
With an elevation ranging from 2,800 to 4,000 meters (9200 - 13,000 ft) Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan is known for its gorgeous and timeless scenic splendor. The beauty of the Phobikha valley is at its peak during the spring season when the various rhododendron blossoms are found in abundance. In late Autumn the birds of heaven (Black Necked Crane) arrive in sweet deluge after the monsoon.
The Yaks stay put year-round.