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December 16, 2010
Sitting right at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (female) and Pho Chhu (male) rivers is the Punakha Dzong. The Bhutanese religious architecture was built in 1637 on the orders of Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan Buddhist lama and the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. The dzong is also known as “Punthang Dechen Phodrang,” which means “The Palace of Great Bliss.” Traditionally, dzongs were built for spiritual and military purposes, as reflected in the strategic location of Punakha Dzong, which is surrounded by the two rivers on three sides, providing protection from attacks. The Punakha Dzong is a complex of fortified buildings comprising of 49-feet (15-m) tall outer walls with a central tower or “utse” at an average elevation of 3,937 feet (1,200 m). It served as the seat of the Government of Bhutan before it was moved to Thimpu in 1955. Today it is the administrative center of Punakha District.