Before Bhutan was unified under a monarchy, Many battles were waged over the
neighbourhood so the Dzongs were not only the administrative and monastic
headquarters, but primarily acted as fortresses, Often positioned in strategic locations. Today they are used as centres of administration and religious practice.
The Punakha Dzong, was the second to be built in Bhutan .The Dzong is located between the two major rivers, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu and the only way to access the Dzong is
to cross the Bazam (bridge) Central Bhutan has a hot and humid subtropical climate. Temperatures can vary between
15-30 degrees Celsius. Preached at an altitude of 1200 mts, Punakha, lies in the eastern
Himalayas, west-central Bhutan with warm summers and cool and dry winters. The rivers
surround the dzong on three sides, protecting it from assaults.
The local materials Consists of stone, rammed earth, local timber or wood and bamboo.
Situated along the banks of these rivers, the soil is blessed with rich alluvial soil which makes Punakha, the rice bowl of Bhutan. With rice terraces stretched out on the mountain slopes. Majority of the people are small scale farmers by occupation. The non-
farm sector 5% work as craftsman in construction and maintenance houses, for which demand is high in Bhutan. And the rest 5% work as teachers, drivers, guides, extension
It is common for the women to be the head of the household. It is local tradition that
man moves in with the family of woman after marriage.
Buddhism, which is the main religion and by studying aspects of cultural transfer, three
potential factors unveil the role of the dzong architecture: 1. The cultural role and
authority of the master-builder; 2. Bhutan's application of 'nail less' architecture; and 3.
The dzong as cultural centre 4.Bhutanese dwelling culture has no tradition of
The central towering structures in the centre of a Dzong known as Utse are usually built
up to three or more floor levels in the centre of courtyards enclosed by rooms spread on
all sides to form a secure enclosed structure. The Utse, located in the centre of the courtyard, forms the core of a Dzong and is where the main temples are usually located.
Along the sides of the courtyard structures house the living quarters for the monks and
the administrative offices of the local government in the other side.
The Punakha Dzong is unusual; it has three Docheys (courtyard). The first courtyard
(northern) is for administrative functions and houses a big white Stupa and a Bodhi
tree. The Second Dochey - Monastery for Religious Affairs: Fenced off from the first
courtyard by the central Utse stupa, the second part is the living quarter of the monks. The third Dochey is also the most important one; it ́s where both the main
temple, and the temple holding the national treasures
We can observe the division of spaces in terms of privacy reflecting the duality of
administration and religious.
Dzongs are constructed without the use of architectural plans. Instead construction
proceeds under the direction of a high lama who establishes each dimension by means of
spiritual inspiration. The structure of a Dzong consists usually of heavy load-bearing walls of stone masonry, gradually tapering up from the foundations to the roof making it earthquake resistant. There is a red band called 'Kemar' on top of the dzong representing the sanctity of the site. The hierarchy of spaces in terms of open, semi open and closed
can be clearly seen here.
The larger spaces such as the temple have massive internal timber columns and beams
to create galleries around an open central full height area. The interior of the dzong is
highly ornamented in timber, where balconies lined with paintings and stories.
The layout strictly follows the basic structure of the Bhutanese temples of the mandala, the Buddhist cosmological model. The Ring of Fire: it represents the mystical journey that
is yet to begin. The Ring of Vajras: to having to pass through the dark vestibule represents
the unclear path and ultimate reality. The Ring of The Lotus: is the symbol of spiritual
rebirth and thus of enlightenment that is the courtyard. It is inside the fortress but at the
same time it’s open to the sky
The Punakha Drubchen is a colourful festival which plays host to dramatic re-creations of
the 17th century battle of Bhutan with the Tibetan army. Local militia men dress up in
traditional gear and re-enact the ancient battle scenes.
One may say that in Bhutan the dzongs are physical expressions of the well-known
concept of chos srid gzhung `brel; `the harmonious blend of religion and politics