We left Thimphu early in the morning heading over the 3,050-meter mountain pass of Dochula towards Punakha. There are 108 memorial chortens here known as “Druk Wangyai Chortens” built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. They were built in memory of the soldiers who died in the December 2003 battle against the Assamese insurgents from India. Chortens are stupas important to Tibetan Buddhism and are usually tombs of saints or distinguished lamas or monuments to the Buddha. The chortens at Dochula Pass are built in 3 layers with 45 chortens in the lowest level, 36 in the second layer, and 27 in top layer surrounding the main chorten. Nearby is the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang built to celebrate 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan.
The 108 chortens at Dochula Pass
Suspension bridge leading to Amankora Punakha
Amankora Punakha farmhouse where the main dining room and library are located.
Dining area out on the patio.
There are a total of 8 suites here with construction going on to build an additional 2 suites and a swimming pool.
You can arrange for a private BBQ by the river at Amankora
Views of the Mo Chhu River and people rafting from the Amankora BBQ area.
Good luck totems for sale next to rolled up prayer flags.
Heading up to Chimi Lhakhang
Huge bodhi tree in front of the small and unassuming temple.
The demoness in the form of a black dog was supposedly subdued by the Divine Madman and buried here. Hence the black chorten.
Chimi Lhakhang is surrounded by beautiful rice paddies
Sangchen Dorji Lhundrup Lhakhang Nunnery
Nepalese style stupa
Traditional Bhutanese farmhouse
Apparently, this old man comes here everyday to chant and spin the large prayer wheel. My friend has a similar photo of this man taken 5 years ago!
Trail leading up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten
Views of Punakha valley from the top of the chorten
The 160 meter long suspension bridge over the Po Chhu River.
Prayer flags are often hung on bridges over water with the belief that the wind and water will bring the mantras and blessings to the surrounding areas.
The magnificent Punakha Dzong with the purple jacaranda trees in front.
Entrance to Punakha Dzong
It is quite a steep climb up.
The four friends or four harmonious animals is a famous Bhutanese folktale underlining the virtue of cooperation and interdependence between all creatures large and small.
The first courtyard is for administrative use
The second courtyard is the monastic quarters
Monastic quarters in the second courtyard
The third and southernmost courtyard is where the main prayer hall and temple where the remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan, are preserved
Monks leaving the prayer hall after their afternoon prayers.
Inside the main prayer hall are colorful murals and large golden statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and Zhabdrung who unified Bhutan.
Signalling the end of the afternoon prayers
The main prayer hall of Punakha Dzong where important festivals as well as events like royal weddings and coronations still take place.
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