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Punakha from the Mo Chhu [Bhutan]

Punakha from the Mo Chhu [Bhutan]

Photographer: White, John Claude

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1905

Shelfmark: Photo 20/(14)

Item number: 14

Length: 18

Width: 30.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of Punakha in Bhutan taken by John Claude White in 1905. This is a close view of a covered bridge over the Mo Chhu, with the Punakha Dzong (fortress) beyond. This photograph was also reproduced in The National Geographic Magazine (Apr 1914), with the following caption: 'Poonakha, showing the bridge over the Mo-Chhu, the only approach from the west. Before the days of cannon and arms of precision this was a very strong position; now it can be dominated from the hills on all sides'. This is one of a set of photographs documenting White's mission to Bhutan to invest Ugyen Wangchuk, the Penlop (Governor) of Tongsa (Trongsa) in central Bhutan, who had assisted the British in relations with Tibet, with the order of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire. Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and its Dzong the seat of government until the capital shifted to Thimpu in 1961. It was in the Punakha Dzong that Ugyen Wangchuk was presented with the insignia of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire by White. Punakha Dzong is one of the greatest of Bhutan's dzongs, the fortified monasteries guarding the valleys, and was established at the confluence of the rivers Po Chhu and Mo Chhu by the Shabdrung Nwagang Namgyal in the mid-17th century. The rivers unite here to form the Punakha Chhu which flows south of Bhutan to be known as the Sankosh. The Shabdrung established a community of 600 monks here brought from Cheri Goemba in the upper Thimpu valley. The Dzong remains the winter residence of the Chief Abbot or Je Khenpo and the central monk body.

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