The Spiritual Aura of Punakha


The Spiritual Aura of Punakha

Punakha is a literal mosaic of cultural and spiritual traditions that has been extraordinarily influenced by Buddhist principles and unique Bhutanese lifestyle and history.

Punakha is an enthralling place tucked away in a mountain realm where it creates an amalgamation of culture and nature that rises up like a divine monument to touch the spirits of those to seek refuge in this land. In this haven, Punakha, a scenic Shangri-La hidden behind silent hillocks, you can see a world lost in time and steep-sided alpine valleys knee-deep in wildflowers. Up until 1955, Punakha was the capital of Bhutan. It is still the winter seat of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. It is about 72kms away from Thimphu and is the administrative centre of 20 districts of Bhutan. Located at an elevation of 1,200m, Punakha sits in a sumptuous, fertile and beautiful valley at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and Pho Chhu (Father River). There are many sites that you can see and visit while you are in Punakha. Here’s what you can see at Punakha.

The Dzong houses the most sacred relics of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu school including the Rangjung Kasarpani, and the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Padma Lingpa.

Chimi Lhakhang

The word Lhakhang means monastery in Dzongkha which is Bhutan’s National Language. Chimi Lhakhang is a Buddhist monastery in Punakha. It is located on a round hillock and was built in 1499 CE 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. < /br> Since the Divine Madman advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls, you can see flying carved wooden phalluses on the top. The monastery is almost like a museum of the original wooden figure of phallus that Kunley had brought from Tibet. This wooden phallus is ornamented with a silver handle and is used to sanctify and bless people who visit the monastery, particularly women seeking blessings to beget children.

Punakha Dzong

In 1907, Punakha Dzong was the site of the coronation of Ugyen Wangchuck as the first King of Bhutan. Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang or Punakha Dzong was constructed by Tuebi Zaow Balip under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637CE and is believed to have been completed in two years of time period. It is also the country's most beautiful Dzong.It is the winter residence of Bhutan's Central Monastic Body led by the Je Khenpo, the spiritual head of Bhutan. The Dzong houses the most sacred relics of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu school including the Rangjung Kasarpani, and the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Padma Lingpa. Today, this is the main tourist attraction of Punakha. A covered wooden cantilever bridge crossing the Mo Chhu river was built together with the Dzong in the 17th century. This bridge was washed away by a flash flood in 1957 or 1958. Punakha is also loved because of the huge display of love, friendship, food, by the locals. Here you’ll be made to feel welcome with songs, poems, and folklores.

Monks-At-Punakha-Dzong

Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten

If you are spending some days in Punakha then a hike up to the Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten is a must. This is a 45 minute hike across paddy fields that take you to this beautiful temple which was built recently but commands a lot of reverence because it was built by the Queen Mother for the spiritual protection of Bhutan. This Chorten is not designed for community worship and is not like a regular monastery. It has been built as a relic, one that provides a spiritual presence to guard the people of Bhutan. As you enter the Chorten, you will see the sculptures that have been carved out in great detail. There are 103 complete sculptures, each an aspect of the deity and emerging bodily from his main mass, all in brilliant colours. This is a beautiful monument with many other aesthetically pleasing paintings, metal and wood work that provide a peek into Bhutanese spiritual culture and traditions. 

Khamsum-Yuley-Namgay-Chorten

Punakha is a literal mosaic of cultural and spiritual traditions that have been extraordinarily influenced by Buddhist principles and unique Bhutanese lifestyle and history. Punakha is an enthralling place tucked away in a mountain realm where it creates an amalgamation of culture and nature that rises up like a divine monument to touch the spirits of those to seek refuge in this land. In this haven, Punakha, a scenic Shangri-La hidden behind silent hillocks, you can see a world lost in time and steep-sided alpine valleys knee-deep in wildflowers. Up until 1955, Punakha was the capital of Bhutan. It is still the winter seat of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. It is about 72kms away from Thimphu and is the administrative centre of 20 districts of Bhutan. Located at an elevation of 1,200m, Punakha sits in a sumptuous, fertile and beautiful valley at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and Pho Chhu (Father River). There are many sites that you can see and visit while you are in Punakha. Here’s what you can see at Punakha.

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