Bhutan is a deeply spiritual country. This is reflected in the numerous Chorten (religious shrines, called "Stupas" in India, "Pagodas" in China and "Chorten" in Tibet) which are set in the beautiful landscapes, the religious paintings of Buddhist saints and shrines that can be found in almost every house.
The holy Tibetan Lama Guru Rinpoche, also called "Padmasambhava" (the Lotus-born), brought Tantric Mahayana Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Guru Rinpoche is still worshiped as the founder of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Bhutan is the only country that maintains Mahayana Buddhism in its Tantric Vajrayana form as its state religion. Buddhism is the dominant religion with 72% of the population being Buddhist and shapes the country in every way. Hinduism forms the second largest religion with 25% believers.
More than 10,000 Chorten and over 2,000 monasteries bear witness to the importance of Buddhism and characterize the distinguished architectural scenery of the country. Some of them are national treasures such as the Taktshang, the "Tiger's Nest", near the city of Paro in the west of the county. Located high on steep cliffs, it is one of the landmarks of Bhutan.
The traditional architecture of the Dzongs, the historic fortified monasteries in Bhutan, is particularly unique and a visible expression of Bhutanese culture influenced by Buddhism: All components, proportions, colors and symbols have a deeper religious significance such as keeping away evil demons.
In each of the 20 districts (Dzongkhags) one of these monastery fortresses can be found. Since the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the unified Bhutan in the 17th century, they are religious centers and the seat of the administrations of the respective district at the same time. Therefore, each of these fortresses consists of a religious and a secular part.
The Punakha Dzong is the holiest and most important Dzong in Bhutan and plays an important historical role. The name Pungtang Dechen Dzong Photrang means "the palace of great happiness or bliss". The Dzong is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley.
The Phunaka Dzong is not only the winter residence of the Je Khenpo, the spiritual leader of the country, and 500 monks, but also the place where all the kings of Bhutan are crowned until today.