Monday, April 03, 2023


Our third stop on the Bhutan trip was Punakha, the site of one of Himalayan Buddhism's grandest monuments, the eponymous Punakha Dzong. Getting to Punakha requires you to climb over 3100m past Dochula, where we got to do the trip's first birding session behind a cafe where we stopped for our morning coffee.

Punakha, as the legend goes, is where the 16th century hero Zhabdrung set up his stronghold against Tibetan marauders and eventually unified the Bhutanese people under one flag. That, at least, is what I gathered from our guides telling of the history, which effortlessly mixed fact and legend into one fascinating tale. The fortress, or dzongka, by far the most magnificent we encountered on this trip is situated at the confluence of two rivers Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu, which are said to be male and female respectively.

The trip to Punakha also included a nice hike up to a temple dedicated to the fourth king of Bhutan. To top it all off we stayed at a hotel right by the river bank (of the tempestuous female one), watching tens of species of birds right from the room windows. 

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