13 Must-Visit Places in Lhuntshe

Nestled in the enchanting northeastern corner of Bhutan lies the mystical region of Kurtoe, also known as Lhuntse. This ancient land holds a special place in Bhutan’s history, as it serves as the ancestral home of our beloved Kings and boasts numerous sacred pilgrimage sites. 

But that’s not all—Kurtoe is renowned for its master weavers, and its skillful artistry produces the best textiles in the country. Among the remarkable weaves is the exquisite Kishuthara, expertly crafted by the talented Kurtoep women.

In this captivating region, you’ll find an array of attractions that will leave you spellbound. Explore the majestic Lhuntse Dzong, immerse yourself in the artistry of Khoma village—famous for its weaving traditions—and marvel at the grandeur of Singye Dzong. Don’t miss the mystical beyul Khenpajong or the grand statue of Guru Padmasambhava, each offering a unique glimpse into Bhutan’s cultural and natural wonders.

Much of the Lhuntse district is nestled within the protective embrace of environmentally protected areas. Discover the wonders of Wangchuck Centennial Park, Thrumshingla National Park, and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, all interconnected by thriving biological corridors that crisscross the heart of this district.

Read on to find out more. The journey you’ve always dreamed of awaits!

1. Gangzur Village

Delve into the timeless art of clay

Gangzur Village, located approximately 2 km from the Lhuntshe Dzong, boasts charming two-story houses offering breathtaking views of meticulously manicured terraces. The lush green forest envelops the village, while magnificent mountains stand majestically in the backdrop, creating a captivating landscape that entices photographers and visitors alike.

The village is renowned for its pottery crafted by talented women artisans, preserving a fading tradition. To revive this art form, the Government is actively providing financial assistance. A visit to Gangzur offers an enchanting spectacle of these skilled women showcasing their craft. 

That’s not all; you can stroll through the farmers’ market and sample homemade cheeses and butter. The aroma of handmade incense also wafts through the air.

As night falls, join the locals in song and dance at the village square. The melodies of traditional Bhutanese music will stir your soul as you gaze up at the starry sky.

When your heart is full, retire to a cozy homestay. Your welcoming host will serve you a delicious home-cooked meal of red rice, spicy pork curry, and Ara(a traditional alcoholic beverage).

The vibrant culture, stunning scenery, and warm hospitality of the Gangzur villagers will leave a lasting impression. This secluded Shangri-La is a paradise you’ll never want to leave!

 2. Khoma Village

The intricate craftsmanship behind Bhutan's traditional weaving

Located approximately two hours’ walk from the Lhuntshe Dzong, the Khoma village offers a delightful journey through gentle slopes adorned with pine trees. 

This picturesque village is renowned for its intricate handwoven textiles called Kishuthara. Adored by Bhutanese women, the Kishuthara is a coveted attire for special festive occasions such as Tshechus and Wangs. The colorful patterns and motifs are unique to this village and passed down through generations.

As you wander the winding stone paths, you’ll spot women weaving away on backstrap looms in the open air. Stop and chat with them – they’ll happily demonstrate their craft and share life stories in this charming mountain community. The textiles they produce are works of art, vibrant and vivid. You’ll find beautiful shawls, blankets, and other handmade goods for sale that make perfect souvenirs.

A visit to Khoma village offers a glimpse into traditional Bhutanese life. The villagers live simply but happily, surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery. 

3.Dungkar Nagtshang

A glimpse into Bhutan's architectural heritage

This spiritual gem is perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of the Lhuntshe Valley. Built-in the 16th century, Dungkar Nagtshang is an outstanding example of traditional Bhutanese architecture.

Inside the main temple, you’ll find ancient Buddhist paintings and sculptures. The musty scent of incense fills the air as shafts of light filter through narrow windows. It’s a profoundly peaceful place that will fill your soul with joy.

The Lhakhang also houses sacred relics and “Terma,” ancient hidden teachings discovered by esteemed figures like Terton Pema Lingpa and the great Saint Desi Tenzin Rabgay. 

A visit to Dungkar Nagtshang is an uplifting experience you’ll never forget. Add this magical monastery to your list – you won’t regret it!

4.Kilung Lhakhang

A must-visit destination for history enthusiasts

Just a short twenty-minute drive from the Dzong, the charming village of Kilung awaits along the route toward Kurtoe Dungkhar. Perched on a ridge with commanding views of the Kurichu River, you’ll discover Kilung Lhakhang. This sacred temple stands on the former grounds of Kilung Gyalpo, a regional chieftain, and is home to the revered chain mall. Legend has it that this chain was instrumental in reclaiming a statue that miraculously flew away from Lhuentse Dzong. 

The main shrine hall is dimly lit by butter lamps, casting a warm glow over colorful murals and sacred relics. The scent of juniper incense wafts through the air. Spin the prayer wheels as you circle the hall, sending blessings into the world with each rotation.

Outside, prayer flags flutter in the breeze, carrying messages of peace and compassion over the surrounding countryside. The view of terraced rice fields and snow-capped peaks in the distance will lift your spirits and open your heart.

A visit to Kilung Lhakhang is a joyful reminder of life’s deepest meaning. Tread lightly, speak softly, and open your mind to insights that will stay with you long after you’ve left this magical place. Such a perfect pocket of positivity and natural wonder – no wonder it’s considered a must-see!

5.Khiney Lhakhang

A fortress that tells tales of the past

Khiney Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Lhuntshe, dating back to the 7th century. According to beliefs, this temple’s construction began in 779 AD, and it received its name, Khiney Temple of the Sleeping Dog, from a dog found peacefully sleeping at its location. Terton Pema Lingpa later undertook renovations and added numerous statues to the temple, infusing it with new vitality. The primary deity worshipped here is Drak Tsen.

Annually, on the 15th day of the 10th month in the Bhutanese calendar, the villages under Metshog Geog unite to celebrate the Festival at Khiney Lhakhang. This joyous occasion marks the anniversary of the temple’s foundation after its renovation by Pema Lingpa, and it serves as a vibrant commemoration deeply cherished by the local community.

As you enter the temple grounds, you’ll immediately feel a sense of peace and tranquility. The aged stone walls and wooden accents transport you back in time. Spin the large prayer wheels as you reach the main temple building. Inside, you’ll find a large statue of Khiney surrounded by offerings of fruit, flowers, and butter lamps. The musty scent of incense fills the air.

While small in size, Khiney Lhakhang radiates an aura of sacredness and spirituality. You may even receive a blessing from the resident monk. For such an old temple, it is in remarkably good condition thanks to the monks’ and locals’ care and devotion.

6. Lhuentse Dzong

Witness the grandeur of Bhutan's fortress

The magnificent Lhuentse Dzong is an architectural wonder and cultural gem not to be missed! Perched majestically on a hilltop overlooking the Kurichu River, surrounded by the verdant green hills of the eastern Himalayas, stands the formidable fortress of Lhuentse Dzong, renowned as Lhundub Rinchentse. Constructed in 1654 by Trongsa Penlop Chogyal Minjur Tempa, it replaced an earlier temple built by Nagi Wangchuk in 1552. Today, this Dzong serves as the administrative and religious hub of the district, holding deep significance.

Within its walls, visitors can discover a treasure trove of sacred artifacts installed by the 4th Druk Desi Tenzin Rabgay. While gaining access to the seven Lhakhangs within the Dzong may require locating someone with the keys, Lhuentse Dzong offers a unique experience. 

Today, this well-preserved edifice showcases the finest examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture with its towering whitewashed walls, intricately carved wooden windows, and sloping rooftops. A stroll through its courtyards and temples will transport you back in time. It is truly a delight for culture vultures and photography buffs.

7.Singye Dzong

Where Bhutanese heritage and natural beauty converge

This revered location attracts thousands of pilgrims annually and is nestled within the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary near the Tibetan border. The path to Singye Dzong is not for the faint-hearted – it requires a three-day journey from the road head in Lhuentse. The closest villages to the Dzong are Khomagang and Denchung.

The surroundings of the Lhakhang are pristine, adorned with beautiful high-altitude flowers, offering a serene atmosphere and fresh air for visitors to relax and rejuvenate. Singye Dzong is home to Drupdey, led by a lam and seven meditating monks. The main relic treasured within Singye Dzong is Phurpa Terma, adding to its spiritual allure.

The challenging hike is well worth the effort for the jaw-dropping vistas and the opportunity to experience this important heritage site. Add this inspiring place to your must-see list for Lhuntshe—you won’t regret it!

8. Jangchubling Dzong

Explore the ancient walls of Jangchubling Dzong

This impressive fortress-monaster is a stunning example of traditional Bhutanese architecture. Constructed in the 18th century by Pekar Jamtsho, a native of Paro, this serene sanctuary emerged from his transformative journey. At the age of 27, he ventured from Trongsa to Kurtoe, leaving his mark at Jangchubling by building a small shrine and two stupas.

In the 1940s, the late Ashi Wangmo, a revered figure who embraced a spiritual life as a nun, played a significant role in the temple’s evolution. With guidance from the 16th Karmapa, Ashi Wangmo orchestrated the magnificent transformation of the sacred site. Under her diligent administration, the existing main Lhakhang was constructed and named Dargay Choling Lhakhang, enhancing Jangchubling’s grandeur and spiritual significance.

Furthermore, Ashi Wangmo’s devotion extended to the establishment of a Shedra, a center dedicated to Buddhist teachings, within Jangchubling. This endeavor fostered the dissemination of wisdom and deepened the site’s importance as a hub of spiritual enlightenment. The contributions of Pekar Jamtsho and Ashi Wangmo have shaped Jangchubling Dzong into the revered sanctuary it is today.

The Dzong is also home to many monks so you may get a glimpse into their peaceful way of life. The scenic surroundings of rice paddies and forested hills provide a perfect photo backdrop.

A visit to the Jangchubling Dzong will lift your spirits and inspire a sense of peace. This special place will remain in your memories for years to come.

9. Khenpajong Tshachu(hotspring)

Soothe your soul in Bhutan's enchanting hot springs

Baeyul Khenpajong holy water, blessed by Guru Rinpoche, holds deep historical roots and spiritual significance. Located at a day’s walk from either Ney village under Gangzur Gewog or Jasebi village under Kurtoed Gewog, this sacred site is revered for its sanctity and healing properties. According to Buddhist documents, Khandro Yeshi Tshogyal prophesied Terton Pema Lingpa about the revealer of Baeyul Khenpajong Neys, hidden treasures, and tshachu (hot springs).

Terton Pema Lingpa, following the prophecy, unveiled this holy site, which comprises three pools: Guru tshachu, Tshepamay tshachu, and Khadro tshachu. These pools are believed to possess potent healing qualities. Recognizing the health benefits the tsachu offers, people from across the country visit these sites every year. The mineral-rich waters are believed to cure various ailments and rejuvenate the body.

As you slip into the steamy pools, you’ll instantly feel your muscles relax, and tensions melt away. The picturesque setting surrounded by forested hills and rice paddies adds to the peaceful vibe. Spend a few blissful hours rotating between the hot and warm pools, perhaps treating yourself to a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath massage.

By the time you’ve pruned up and are ready to head back to town, you’ll feel refreshed, recharged, and reinvigorated. The memory of your soothing soak at Khenpajong Tshachu will stay with you long after leaving Lhuntshe.

10.The Statue of Guru Padmasambhava

Experience the majesty of the statue of Guru Padmasambhava

Standing proudly on the slopes of Takila mountain in the Lhuntse district, the world’s largest statue of Guru Padmasambhava demands attention with its impressive height of 173 feet. This magnificent sculpture is in one of the most breathtaking scenic spots, offering panoramic views of the entire Tangmachu Valley. The statue is located in the Tangmachu community, where an ancient monastery (Lhakhang) also exists.

The construction of this monumental statue was inspired by sacred prophecies. The renowned terton (treasure revealer) Lerab Lingpa (1856 – 1926) prophesied that a war of horses would occur in the Kurtoe valley, and to prevent it, a statue of Guru Nangsi Zilnoen should be constructed. Similarly, in the 20th century, Lama Sonam Zangpo, a highly revered yogi in Bhutan, emphasized the importance of a giant statue of Guru Rinpoche in Takila, Lhuntse district, to ensure continued prosperity in the world, particularly in Bhutan.

The statue was built by the late Je Khenpo (The Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan) Karpo Rinpoche, a distinguished master who mentored the current 5th King of Bhutan. The significance of this awe-inspiring statue goes beyond its sheer size, representing a deep spiritual connection and a symbol of devotion to Guru Padmasambhava. Its presence in Takila serves as a beacon of faith and a testament to Bhutan’s rich religious heritage.

Gaze up in wonder at the intricate details of Guru Rinpoche’s robes, jewelry, and facial expression. His serene yet powerful presence will fill you with inspiration and joy. Circumnavigate the base of the statue to see depictions of his eight manifestations, each one more magnificent than the last. This gigantic monument is a testament to the profound impact Guru Rinpoche has had on Bhutan’s history and culture.

11. Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary

Explore Bhutan's untamed wilderness

The Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan is a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a remarkable array of biodiversity. With over 300 species of birds, 42 species of fauna, and more than 700 flora species, it is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Recognizing its ecological significance, UNESCO proposed the sanctuary as a Global Heritage Site in 2012. The floodplain within the sanctuary has also been declared a Ramsar Site, highlighting its international importance as a wetland.

Various trekking routes, such as those through Singye Dzong, Phuningla, Risum Gompa, and Aja Valley, offer opportunities to explore the region’s natural beauty. Along the way, you’ll discover notable landmarks like Risum Gompa, a revered spiritual structure. The Dong La Pass trek rewards you with breathtaking views of the Himalayas, adding to the allure of Bhutan’s scenic wonders. Every turn of the trail reveals a new natural phenomenon.

You can visit local families to witness traditional weaving techniques and acquire handicraft souvenirs in Singye Dzong. Camping overnight in the sanctuary allows you to awaken to the soothing sounds of nature, providing a truly immersive experience.  

Bird watchers will find delight in the abundant birdlife, including cranes, Gould’s shortwing, and other rare species. Keep a lookout for elusive animals like snow leopards and red pandas, and capture these incredible moments with your camera. The picturesque landscapes within the sanctuary offer numerous opportunities for stunning photography.

12. Wangchuck Centennial National Park

A hidden gem for nature enthusiasts

Wangchuck Centennial National Park, one of the largest parks in Bhutan, covers an expansive area of 4,914 square kilometers (1,897 sq mi). The park boasts a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna within its boundaries. This protected sanctuary is home to more than 200 species of rare vascular plants, 23 large mammals, and over 100 migratory and local birds.

The park serves as a sanctuary for numerous rare and protected species, including the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger, elusive Snow Leopards, Himalayan Musk Bears, black bears, Takin (Bhutan’s national animal), and Common Leopards. These fascinating creatures inhabit the lush green forests of Wangchuck Centennial National Park, adding to their ecological significance.

Wangchuck Centennial National Park attracts tourists and travelers worldwide, particularly during the Annual Nomads Festival. This three-day festival, held at the park headquarters in Nagspel village, aims to raise awareness about wildlife and environmental conservation. It serves as a platform to educate people and promote sustainable practices.

Visitors of Wangchuck Centennial National Park can stay in several farmhouses, offering accommodation amidst the beautiful natural surroundings. These farmhouses offer facilities such as hot stone baths, local cuisines, and village tours, allowing visitors to explore the park and engage in local activities.

13.Thrumshingla National Park

Thrumshingla National Park is a protected area spanning the districts of Bumthang, Lhuentse, Mongar, and Zhemgang in Bhutan. The park offers plenty of natural attractions with a total area of 768 square kilometers.

The park is surrounded by majestic and towering mountains, creating a breathtaking backdrop for visitors. Its highest peak reaches an elevation of 4,000 meters above sea level, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

Thrumshingla National Park’s central location makes it an accessible and popular destination for both locals and tourists. The park’s dramatic landscapes, encompassing verdant forests, rolling hills, and snow-capped mountains, contribute to its visual appeal. 

For adventure enthusiasts, the park offers several trekking trails that are renowned worldwide. These trails traverse through the lush green forests and landscapes, gradually ascending into snow-covered terrain. The trekking routes in Thrumshingla National Park provide opportunities for thrilling experiences and a chance to witness the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this region.

You can sleep under the blanket of stars and wake to the sun peeking over craggy cliffs. This secluded Shangri-La is a sanctuary for the soul. Escape the bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the solitude of nature.

Exploring the pristine wilderness of Bhutan

You’ve now discovered 13 incredible places you simply must visit on your trip to the enchanting valley of Lhuntse. From ancient dzongs perched on cliffsides to peaceful monasteries tucked into the folds of the Himalayas, this tiny region packs a huge punch.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your journey to the happiest place on Earth with Druk Heritage Tours. The majestic mountains are calling your name. 

Pack your bags, book your tickets, and prepare for a journey you’ll never forget in a land where time stands still. Lhuntshe awaits!

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