Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and then shifted to Thimphu. It is almost 70 Km away from Thimphu and it is connecting West Bhutan to Central Bhutan. Punakha is known as the warmest valley in Bhutan as it is only 1200 meter above sea level. Today I will be telling you why you should visit Punakha valley in your Bhutan trip. In addition to than I am going to tell you the places to visit in Punakha valley. Do you want to know how to plan your Bhutan trip in cheapest way and the perfect 7 -8 days itinerary, please visit my post.
Reason to Visit the Punakha Valley:
1.Visit Punakha Dzong :
Punakha Dzong is the largest and most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan. Situated at the confluence of Po Chu (father) and Mo Chu (mother) river, this is the one of the most important attraction in Punakha.
The Dzong is open till 6pm and we reached Punakha little late, so we could not cover the whole Dzong, but it was worth visiting and spending 500 NU (the entry fee/person) for this amazing place.
2. Visit Drochula Pass:
While travelling to Punakha from Thimphu, you will cross Drochula Pass. Situated at an elevation of 3100 meters, Drochula pass is a memorial for lost soldiers in the battle of 2003. There are 108 numbers of Chortens placed in three layers.
There are also temple and a palace for the Royal people in front of the Drochula pass, which are not open for common people. However you can climb the temple to get a panoramic view of the snow clad Himalayan range.
The day we visited, the sky was clear, so we could see the 360 degree clear view of the mountain. However the day when we were getting back from Punakha, the whole area was covered in cloud. So it’s your luck whether you can see the view or not.
There is a restaurant, where you can sip your favorite tea/coffee or Bhutanese Suja or have snacks with the perfect Mountain View.
3. Water Rafting in Mo Chu River:
If you are an adventurous person then you can try the water rafting in the Mo Chu River. However the rate is fixed and it is for 5-6 people, so if you are travelling in a group less than that, then it will be a costly affairs. Generally they charge 2500- 3000 for 30-40 minutes.
4. A day trip to Phobjikha/ Gangtey Valley:
This is the best reason to visit Punakha. Situated at an altitude of 3000 meter, this valley is famous for the land of Black neck cranes. Every winter (from October to March), these birds fly in this valley and again fly away to the Tibet in the summer season. Phobjikha valley is a U shaped glacier valley, which is also known as Gangtey valley for the famous Gangteng Monastery.
Other than Gangteng Monastery, the most popular place to visit here is Black Neck Crane Information center. In the information center, they will show you a movie about the travel journey of the endangered Black Neck crane. How every year same time they come and first make three rotation of the Gangteng Monastery and then settle down in the valley. They also showed us the initiative taken by the NGO to save the life of the birds from the wolf and other animals.
I was surprised to know that those cranes actually can fly above 33000 Ft. (the normal aircraft moves in the 30000 ft). We saw all the cranes scattered in the valley with the help of Binocular.
We also saw an injured Black neck crane, which they saved a few month back in the valley. The normal height of an adult Crane is 115 Cm (Average man height 160 Cm).
The valley is beautiful. The view would be more beautiful if anyone would visit in Feb March. However that time the road condition will be bad.
Food and accommodation in Gangtey Valley:
We didn’t stay in the valley, but we saw 1-2 small home stay/ hotel. There was no restaurant (any shop) open in the valley, so we got back near the monastery and our driver requested one family and arranged some yummy homemade noodles along with my favorite Suja. We are very thankful to the family.
While returning back we saw many Yaks and the Sunset we witnessed was mesmerizing. Here is a short video of Gangtey valley.
Visiting this valley was the best experience of our Bhutan Trip.
If you want to know about the places to visit in Thimphu, please read my post.