The erstwhile capital of Bhutan, Punakha is the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the chief abbot). The place has is a favourite with tourists since it has a temperate climate. The two rivers, Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female), provide abundant supply of water and drainage, leading the Punakha valley to produce a high yield of crops and fruits. The Dochula pass (alt. 3,050m) on Thimphu – Punakha road offers splendid views of the distant Himalayas. Some of the main attractions in and around Punakha include the
Punakha Dzong, was built in 1637 at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. This is where visitors are allowed during Punakha festival and in summer months when the monk body moves to Thimphu. There are also various excursions that can be made around Punakha, some of them being Chimi Lhakhang, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, and Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery. The Chimi Lhakhang is situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley and is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who was known as the ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility, and childless couples are known to be blessed with a child very soon if they offer prayers at the temple. Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten was built in order to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the world. It offers commanding views of Mo Chhu and the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond. The Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery is a temple housing a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong) among others. The complex also has a higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where religious training and life skills are imparted.