We visited Punakha Dzong on the same day as we visited Dochula Pass. The journey from Dochula Pass to Punakha Dzong takes you through some pictureseque landscape and many a times one would like to stop the car / vehicle to take pictures. I remember distinctly, there was a turn on our way which had a beautiful display of traditional Buddhist prayer flags.
A brief History of Punakha Dzong
Punakha Dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who was also known as the 2nd Dharmaraja in the year 1637 and it was the second old fortress in Bhutan. It is also known as Punthang Decheng Pothrang but the most common name is Punakha Dzong. Situated at the juncture of Pu Chhu (male rivers) and Mo Chhu ( female rivers), this is the largest and most beautiful landmark of this area over centuries. As much so, that just like any tourist, we stopped our car far away at the moment we got its first glimpse. It was simply breathtaking. This is a desperate attempt to compress the history of such a place in so less words but I keep them aside for my post on Punakha Dzong.
Inside Punakha Dznong
One has to cross a cantilever wooden foot bridge to reach Punakha Dzong and then climb steep wooden stairs to get into the main area. There is a majestic Bodhi tree. This place is seat of all the administrative buildings and called as Northern Doche.
Inside Punakha Dzong the training that was going on.
As we had been travelling since morning, we wanted to take some rest and refresh and start our journey for the tour of Punakha Dzong. The cool shadow of the large Bodhi tree was a perfect respite and that’s the moment when this story starts. Now when I look back at these pictures, I realise the biggest mistake which I had made and I regret that.
The biggest mistake which I made inside Punakha Dzong
As I sat there, I didn’t ask anyone what was going on. I realised that there was a great photo op and as I clicked the pics, I felt I was getting trained in the same. Wearing Gho (for men) and Kira (for women) in any traditional function is mandatory and earlier while I was attending few functions at Taj Tashi, I had obsrved this. If you challenge me over the exact name, I raise my hands and drop the weapon but I assume. That’s the fun also for this blogpost as I, along with my readers, guess as much and interpret from the pictures
When the training was going inside Punakha Dzong
Two rows of people (assumingly govt officials as this was the administrative building), of various ages were trained by a short, strict yet funny trainer who didn’t mind cracking a joke now and then. The training inside Punakha Dzong was on Driglam Namzha, which is a Bhutanese etiquette. This was introduced in the country by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal himself. Later I read and can assume that the white piece of cloth draped around the body of men was Kabney (it varies colours according to the official ranks) and the narrow piece of cloth worn by the women are called Rachu. Like a drill, the same steps of going ahead, bowing down with the Kabney held between the index finger and hand of first finger and then coming back. It reminded me of school days when my teachers during the practice for the parade for any march past, would make us practice the same steps repeatedly. Just as we used to do, in between the breaks of the training sessions, the participants were found cracking jokes amongst themselves , a little banter and then changing back to the serious mode the moment the instructor called out. With large pristine white walls behind, colourful clothes, reflected light from those walls and the light and shadow of the Bodhi tree made this a remarkable experience as an observer and as a photographer.
More to see inside Punakha Dzong
There is definitely more to see inside Punakha Dzong which I will share in my later posts but after reading this experience, don’t you think that this is what makes traveling worthwhile? For me, if possible I would go out tomorrow with my camera