Punakha suspension bridge: Bhutan’s gem
Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan has travellers visiting from all parts of the world to witness its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Punakha Valley is famous in Bhutan for rice farming and the Punakha suspension bridge which is the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan.
Punakha suspension bridge connects the dzong with the village on the other end of the Po-chhu river which is Shengana, Samdingkha and Sangkha. This bridge spans about 170-180 meters in length. Punakha suspension bridge is also draped with prayer flags because of a local belief that the flags should always be tied outside the house waving with the wind.
Not far from the Punakha Dzong lies this suspension bridge. The view of the suspension bridge over the gushing river with the mountains surrounding is just amazing. Walking on one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world would look like a piece of cake, but a few steps onto the suspension bridge and the thrill begins. Something as basic as crossing a river turns into an adventure when the bridge swings.
Mountains surrounding the bridge from all sides gives a breathtaking view and is a popular destination amongst professional photographers and tourists. The view from the bridge is also eye-catching, try to take pictures of the whole length of the bridge by standing on the bridge which can come out amazing if properly taken.
From Thimphu to Punakha, the distance is 86 kms while from Paro the distance is 126 kms. From the southern border town of Gelephu to Punakha, the distance is 194 kms. From Wangdue to Punakha, the distance is 23 kms. From Trongsa to Punakha, the distance is 138 kms. The distance between Bumthang and Punakha is 217 kms.
A short distance from Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge on the Pho Chu river is Punakha Dzong. Historically this dzong is the second oldest in Bhutan and has witnessed the coronation ceremonies of many kings apart from serving as the government seat and capital in 1950.
This is incidentally, the seat of Bhutan’s most influential 600 strong monk community dratshang. It was in 1326, that the first version of Punakha Dzong was built which housed a huge statue of Buddha.
Most of the rivers in Bhutan are very steep and highly rushing with limited road access making them considerably unsuitable for white water rafting. Only a few rivers are opened for rafting considering their safe course and easy access. The Pho Chu, with its approximately a 10 kms course is the most popular for rafting which can be seen from the suspension bridge. Travellers who are looking for adventure should try river rafting when they visit Phunaka suspension bridge.
You can visit Punakha suspension bridge at any time, but summer and winter are more favourable periods in terms of weather, as it may be hard to cross the bridge during the rains and when strong winds blow.
The next time you plan to visit Bhutan, don’t forget to visit this suspension bridge.
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