Lhuntse (alt. 2,300m / 7,544 ft)
Located in north-eastern corner of the Kingdom, Kurtoe or Lhuntse as it is known today is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s Kings, the birthplace of Jigme Namgyel, the father of First King Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, and the progenitor of the Wangchuck dynasty. The landscape here is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famed for its weavers and exquisite textile ‘Kishuthara’, considered to be the best in the country.
Lhuntse’s rich past seamlessly blends with its present. Its cultural landscape and historical monuments offer a glimpse into these two worlds that co-exists in a spiritual harmony. Remote and untouched, Lhuntse preserves Bhutan’s arcane culture, traditions and way of life in its most authentic form. Many shamanic bon rituals add colour to the cultural diversity of the region. Kurtoeps (people of Lhuntse) are also adept singers and the valleys often resound with popular regional folk songs.
Places of Interest in and around Lhuntse
Sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Kuri Chhu river, this mighty fortress was built by Trongsa Penlop, Chogyal Minjur Tempa in 1654 upon the site of an older temple established by Nagi Wangchuk in 1552. Since then it has been renovated several times and now houses the administrative and religious centre of the district.
This world’s largest statue of Guru Padmasambhava of 173 feet height stands tall on the Takila mountain slope, overlooking the valley of Tangmachu. Guru’s statue is surrounded by eight big and 108 small chortens and serves an important pilgrimage site as well as place for meditation and retreat.
Located about two hours walk from Lhuntse Dzong, Khoma village is famous for its exquisite and treasured Kishuthara (silk weaving). For Kurtoep women, the winter months are solely dedicated to textile weaving and they sit in a row of makeshift textile cottages, weaving intricate design and patterns.
Situated above 2 km from Lhuntse Dzong, Gangzur village is known for its earthen pottery and women folks here are skilled artisans of this traditional art. Gangzur is a small village consisting of about ten households where every household engaged in pottery making which is also the main source of income for the villagers. This village is picturesquely located and surrounded by lush green forests with spectacular mountain scenery.
This interesting monastery is located about 15 away from Lhuntse Dzong and easily accessible by road. It was founded by Pekar Gyamtso in the 18th century and used to be under the patronage of 16th Karmapa Ranjung Rigpe Dorji. The daughter of the first King, Ashi Wangmo lived here at this monastery as nun.
The tiny village of Kilung is 20-minute drive from Lhuntse Dzong and the Kilung Lhakhang is situated on a ridge overlooking the Kurichu (river). It was built on the former site of the Kilung Gyalpo, a regional chieftain. This temple houses the sacred chain mall that was believed to have been used to recapture a statue that miraculously flew away from Lhuntse Dzong