The Mo Chhu River has carved the Punakha Valley out from the Himalayas. It is a place of outstanding natural beauty, which is especially evident when you walk beneath the purple jacaranda trees along the riverside.
The valley’s dominant feature is Punakha Dzong, which is on Bhutan’s Tentative List for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overlooking the confluence of two rivers, the dzong dates from the early 17th century and houses the sacred relics of even older Buddhist saints.
The six story structure is built from timber, stone, and compacted earth, and the facade is painted white, striking an impressive view of surrounding farmland.
You’ll find a stupa and a bodhi tree in the courtyard, plus interior temples decorated with fine wooden carvings, painted murals and thangkas, plus numerous Buddhist statues.
Be sure to take advantage of some superb day hikes within the Punakha Valley, many of which start from the dzong. The high route to ornate the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten is particularly scenic, offering panoramic views across the Himalayas.