One of the reasons I visited Bhutan this time of the year is to catch the Punakha Domchoe Festival. Part of the difference with other Domchoe festivals is that of the dramatic recreation of a 17th century battle scene of a Tibetan army invading Bhutan and eventually withdrawing. Quite unfortunate as it was raining today – but the “show” went on, albeit with less crowd in attendance.
It was held at Punakha Dzong, a postcard perfect dzong that is serenely monastic. Built in 1637, this is the winter home of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and is the venue for the coronation of kings of Bhutan. Dzongs are fortress-temple buildings shared between administrative offices and monastic quarters of each district.
The pleasant 20-minute (one way) hike today through rice fields is to Chimi Lhakhang, built in 1499. The temple was built for Lama Drukpa Kunley, or the Divine Madman, one of the country’s favourite saints.