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*Dzong* is a style of traditional architecture found in Bhutan and Nepal.

With large towering walls, engraved wooden roofs, and huge courtyards these were a sort of combination of fortresses and monastic orders. Arguably, the most popular *Dzong* in Bhutan is the Punakha Dzong. It is located on the banks of the powerful Mo Chu river, in the postcard-perfect Himalayan valley of Punakha. With the lush green verdant valley spread out on all four sides, the azure blue skies above you and the sounds and sights of the forests all around you; this is undoubtedly one of most incredible sights that Bhutan has to offer. The valley is mostly popular with adrenaline junkies who come here for trekking, hiking, camping and rafting. But in the form of this *Dzong* it also has something to offer to those enthusiastic on soaking in the culture of Bhutan.

It was built in 1637, by Ngawang Namgyal, the 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche (sacred Lama of Bhutan) and is more than 300 years old. This makes it the second oldest *Dzong* of Bhutan. It's an architectural complex of the gilded roof, wood carvings and immense white walls also make it the largest *Dzong* in Bhutan. The best time to visit it is in Spring. This is when the stunning purple Jacaranda blossoms against the white walls provide a deeply satisfying sight.

The *Dzong* also has a very long and intricate history. Many major royal events including the coronation of the 1st King and the wedding of the 5th and current king of Bhutan took place here. It is now an administrative landmark of the Punakha valley and the winter residence of the Bhutanese monastic order but most importantly, it is one of Bhutan's most crucial cultural relics.

It is located at a distance of about 3 hours from Paro and only 2 hours from Thimphu. The cost of a ticket is about 300INR per person. Make sure you follow the proper etiquette while in the *Dzong*. Rest assured you will most definitely have a fantastic time here.

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