Chalk it up to poor planning… or me just not looking at my calendar… in any case, when I started my series on Bhutan last week I wasn’t thinking about this week being Easter! So, this is admittedly not an Easter photo / post! BUT, happy Easter anyway! 🙂

When I was working on the plan for Bhutan, one of the areas I wasn’t too sure about was Punakha. The pictures looked nice, but I didn’t know if visiting there was terribly necessary, since what I REALLY wanted were solid pictures of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery (which you’ll see later in the series). Boy am I glad I listened to some other people on that one! The Tiger’s Nest Monastery gets all the attention, and is no doubt a must-see when visiting Bhutan, but MAN, there is so much more to the country than that one place! As it turned out, Punakha was one of our favorite stops on our trip (and definitely our favorite hotel!); the valley is gorgeous, and the fortress / temple is one of the most picturesque!

Punakha Dzong, which is the big building (it’s actually a collection of buildings surrounded by a big wall) in the photo, is the second oldest in Bhutan. Construction was started in 1637! The site used to be capital of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to its current place in Thimphu. Like other Dzongs in Bhutan, the Punakh Dzong (also referred to as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong, which means ‘very awesome dzong’ or ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’) is half religious center, and half government seat. What drew my eye to place though, beyond the architecture itself, is the beautiful river that flows beside it, and the little bridge that goes over to it. A beautiful scene!

For this particular photo I walked down the road a little bit from where the main viewing pull-off was, and found a seat on a guardrail that had a good vantage point of the river and the dzong. We ended up hanging out here for several hours as the sunset, and then into the evening. I was curious to see what the area would look like after dark (see below), which I really liked, but I ended up liking the image of the sun’s rays fading on the white walls of the compound. It was a great way to take in the scenery, and enjoy some people watching as the small amount of traffic to and from the city passed by.

–Dan Thompson

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Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong

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