LHUENTES DZONG

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The Dzong was initially known as Kurtoe in the then-isolated Lhuntse District. It is the ancestral home of the House of Wangchuck.Lhuentse Dzong is a dzong and Buddhist monastery in Lhuntse District in eastern Bhutan. It lies on the eastern side of the KuriChhu and is perched on a spur at the end of a narrow valley.

While its geographic coordinates are in eastern Bhutan, its cultural roots are central Bhutanese. This was because before road traffic connected it to Mongar, the approach was through a trade route crossing Rodang Pass.

Topography

The Dzong is located in the KuriChhu valley, which is part of the Lhuntse district. The KuriChhu is the major river that has formed the scenic valley with high peaks and steep hills.KuriChhu is a tributary of the Manas River system, which is the largest river of Bhutan and a major tributary of the Brahmaputra River that drains most of Eastern Bhutan.

The road from Mongar to LheuntseDzong is a 3 hours drive over a distance of 77 kilometres (48 mi) and 63 kilometres (39 mi) from its junction at Gangola. The approach to this Dzong is over a flag-stone-paved path over the steep cliffs.

According to one legend, Khedrup Kuenga Wangpo, son of Tertoen Pema Lingpa was assigned to find a ridge resembling the trunk of an elephant. He found one opposite Baeyul Khenpajong and mediated there. This location came to be known as Kurtoe Lhuentse Phodrang.

An assembly of student monks

The monastery was originally established by PemaLingpa’s son KungaWanpo in 1543, although it wasn’t until 1654 that the Trongsapenlop (governor), MinjurTenpa, built a formal dzong here after winning a battle and named it LhuentseRinchentse. The dzong was later restored in 1962 and again between 1972 and 1974. The historic importance of LhuntseDzongkhag is on account of its established link as the ancestral home of the Wangchuck Dynasty. Lhuentse town is the administrative capital of Lhuentse District, besides the LhuentseDzong. At present 100 monks reside here.

Entrance gate to the dzong

The dzong contains five temples, three of which are in the central tower and are dedicated to Padmasambhava. The dzong also contains a Gonkhang, which is dedicated to smahakala, and a temple dedicated to Amitayus, the Buddha of Infinite Life. The ground floor also has a temple dedicated to Avalokitesvara. The Kunre, the assembly hall for the monks, is located on the upper floor.

2009 Earthquake damage

The dzong has suffered serious damage during an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter magnitude scale that hit eastern Bhutan on Monday, 21 September 2009. Many other monasteries in the region also suffered serious damages.

Other attractions

Khoma village, which is an hour walk from the main road to Lhuntse Dzong is famous for its intricate woven cloth made of silk called KishuThara. Other well known pilgrimage sites of Padmasambhava are SingyeDzong, the beyulKhenpajong (Wylie: mkhan pa ljongs) and Phunying Pass. SingyeDzong was founded by YesheTsogyal and visited by Padmasambhava on his second visit to Bhutan, which is a three day trek from Khoma.

Weaving

The weaving handicraft looms loom large in households here and the handlooms produced are very famous. This household industry is dominated by women folks who weave different types of textiles with intricate designs. The unique weaving activities involve embroidery, basket-making and kushutara (brocade dress). Textiles products of Lhuntse are stated to be the best in the country.