Dochula Lhakhang and Chortens
On the way to Punakha valley from Thimphu valley is the 3100-metre high Dochula pass. Especially during clear winter days, it offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas. The beauty of Dochula pass is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang and the unique spiral of 108 Khangzang Wangyel Chortens built under the royal patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo. Sanctified by the sacred monuments, the ridge is a blessing for every person who crosses the pass. The historical and spiritual ridge of Dochula, blessed by Zhabdrung, Terton Drugda Dorji, Drukpa Kuenley, and other spiritual personalities, has thus become a nye for all travellers.
Located on a stretch of land where two rivers, the Phochhu and the Mochhu converge, Punakha Dzong appears as a great anchored ship. Zhabdrung built this dzong in 1637 and later died there in 1651. It was named Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, which means ‘the palace of great bliss’. At the Punakha Dzong, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, Bhutan’s first king was crowned in 1907. Punakha was first capital of Bhutan and the dzong served as the centre of the government. The dzong still serves as the winter residence of His Holiness the Je Khenpo and the central monastic body. The famous Punakha Dromchoe, which takes place in spring at Punakha Dzong, is a glorious event and a superb demonstration of Bhutanese culture, combining powerful rites with a dazzling display of horsemanship and swordplay.
Dedicated to the famous “divine madman” widely condemned for his shockingly outrageous, even obscene teachings that were designed to persuade people to discard their preconceptions about the universe, the Chime Lhakhang at Metshina village was built in 1499 by the Drukpa hierarch, Ngawang Choegyel. Located at a half an hour’s hike away from the road head across open fields, the fertility temple is also the pilgrim site for women who are unable to bear children. People visit the Chime Lhakhang either to receive a special fertility blessing or may be just to see the ritual phalluses!