For such a large, potentially menacing building, the Punakha Dzong sits remarkably lightly on the beautiful landscape. Positioned at the junction of the valley’s two rivers it combines huge strategic, architectural and religious importance. Visiting was a perfect finale to our visit to the Punakha Valley. But that’s getting ahead of things. Getting to the valley was an adventure in itself.
Nothing adequately prepares you for the view from Dochula Pass, the crest of the fiercely steep and sharply curvaceous road between Bhutan’s capital Thimphu and the Punakha Valley. As soon as you crest the peak everywhere seems dwarfed by the massive sweeping panorama of the Bhutan Himalayas, white tipped against an impossibly blue sky and
After the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, is a shock to the system. In a good way. A very good way. Despite undergoing an obvious growth spurt that has resulted in new hotels and restaurants, it remains serene and magical.
True, it is winter, the quietest time for tourists. This makes getting around the sights, bliss. But you get the impression even at the height of the season it’s pretty orderly. There are no traffic lights, just one balletic policeman on point duty. Drivers are courteous if occasionally haphazard. The locals, most dressed in the traditional gho (for men) and kira for women, are reserved but quick to respond to a greeting or smile.