In the north-eastern corner of Bhutan lies the ancient region of Kurtoe or Lhuntse as it is known today. It is the ancestral home of our Kings and hosts several of the sacred sites of pilgrimage in the country. It is located 77km from Mongar (3 hours’ drive) and is one of the most isolated districts in Bhutan.
The landscape is spectacular, with stark cliffs towering above river gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is famous for its weavers, and their distinctive textiles are generally considered to be the best in the country. Kurtoep women are especially adept at weaving a textile called Kishuthara.
This mighty fortress, popularly known as Lhundub Rinchentse sits upon a hill overlooking the Kurichu River. It was constructed in 1654 by the Trongsa Penlop Chogyal Minjur Tempa upon the site of an older temple built by Nagi Wangchuk in 1552. Today the dzong is the administrative and the religious centre of the district. It houses many sacred artifacts that were installed by the 4th Druk Desi Tenzin Rabgay.
The 154 feet bronze statue of Guru Rinpoche in Tangmachu, Lhuntse is a major tourist attraction in for tourist all over the world, just like the Jarung-Kharshor stupa in Nepal and Dorjiden (Bodh Gaya) in India. It is the world’s tallest Statue of Guru Rinpoche in the form of Guru Nangse Zilion.
The Statue is built, following the prophesy of Lam Sonam Zangpo, a renowned Bhutanese Yogi, who said that a statue built in Takila would be most beneficial to the stability, peace and prosperity of the country and the world.
The lotus throne of the statue will be big enough to house three different lhakhangs: the Choeku lhakhang in the upper storey, the Longku lhakhang in the middle storey, and the Trulku lhakhang and museum on the ground floor.
The statue was built by the Druk Odiyana foundation with supports from various international organizations outside Bhutan. The statue is situated on an area of 27-acre and, besides being a pilgrimage site, it also serve as an area, where Buddhists can meditate and retreat. Takila is about 13km from Tangmachu..
The house of Dungkar, one of the noble lineages from Kurtoe was home to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal, the father of the Wangchuck dynasty. Dungkar Naktshang the ancient home of the Dungkar Chojie and the ancestral home of the Wangchuck Dynasty, stands amid a scenic backdrop of towering mountains overlooking the tiny Dungkar village below. There is a 40km dirt road from Lhuentse leading up to Dungkar Lhakhang. The Dungkar expedition is an exciting and magical voyage into Bhutan’s past.
Gangzur village is situated around two kilometers from the Dzong. . This village is famous for its pottery as its women folk are skilled artisans of this dying art. The Government is now making efforts to revive it through financial support. When in Gangzur you will definitely want to witness the women displaying their skills.
This is another monastery that is definitely worth paying a visit. It was founded in the 18th century by Pekar Gyatso and until recently was under the patronage of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorji. The daughter of 1st King, Ashi Wangmo lived here at the monastery as a nun. The monastery is easily accessible from a feeder road.
The tiny village of Kilung is a twenty minute drive from the Dzong on the route towards Kurtoe Dungkharg . This village is inhabited by the Tshanglas who migrated and settled here during the late 1880’s. In the village you will come across the Kilung Lhakhang 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 once used to recapture a statue that miraculously flew away from the Lhuentse Dzong.
One can see the the amazing sight of Kilung Lhakhang situated on the ridge, surprising one's eyes with the view of Kurichu river flowing on its base. This place has the ancient sacred chain mall that is said to have been used to chain down a statue that flew away from the Lhuentse Dzong.