First published 1914 Punakha Jong dzong fortress castle winter palace government Bhutan a

- Image ID: CN8BX5
First published 1914 Punakha Jong dzong fortress castle winter palace government Bhutan a
SOTK2011 / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: CN8BX5
The Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong meaning “the palace of great happiness or bliss” is the administrative centre of Punakha dzongkhag in Punakha, Bhutan. Constructed by Zhabdrung Shabdrung 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 Kagyu school including the Rangjung Kasarpani, and the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Terton Padma Lingpa. Punakha Dzong was the administrative centre and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. 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 Lighsi and Laya in Bhutan, and in Tibet. The Po 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 or Sankosh River and flows down through Wangdiphodrang, crosses the Bhutan–India border at Kalikhola and eventually meets the Brahmaputra River. 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. Lilac coloured jacaranda trees grow around the dzong during the spring season According to a local legend, the sage Guru Rinpoche prophesized that “a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. Zhamdrup Namgyal found the peak of the hill, which appeared in the shape of trunk of an elephant as prophesized, and built the dzong in 1637-38.[5] Another legend tells how Zowe Palep, the architect, had a vision in a dream after the Zhamdrup Namgyal ordered him to sleep under a small structure which contained a statue of the Buddha, known as Dzong Chug (small dzong). In his dream,