The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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The Dzong was initially known as Kurtoe, in the then isolated Lheuntse district. It is the ancestral home of the royal family. While its geographic coordinates are set in eastern Bhutan, its cultural roots are, however, part of Central Bhutan. This was because before road traffic connected to Mongar, the approach to the place was through a trade route crossing the Rodang La pass.
The Dzong is located in the Kuri Chhu valley, which is part of the Lhuntse district. The Kuri Chhu is the major River that has formed the scenic valley with high peaks and steep hills. Kuri Chhu 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 Lheuntse Dzong 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.
The Monastery was originally established by Pema Lingpa's son Kunga Wanpo in 1543, although it wasn't until 1654 that the Trongsa penlop (governor), Minjur Tenpa, built a formal Dzong here after winning a battle and named it Lhuentse Rinchentse. The Dzong was later restored in 1962 and again between 1972 and 1974. The historic importance of Lhuntse Dzongkhag 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 Lhuentse Dzong. At present 100 Monks reside here.
The Dzong contains five temples, three of which are in the central tower and are dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. The Dzong also contains a Gonkhang, which is dedicated to Mahakala and a temple dedicated to Amitayus, the Buddha of Infinite Life. The ground floor also has a temple dedicated to Avalokiteshvara. 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 scale that hit eastern Bhutan on Monday, 21 September 2009. Many other Monasteries in the region also suffered serious damages.
Khoma village, which is an hour walk from the main road to Lhuentse Dzong is famous for its intricate woven cloth made of silk called Kishu Thara. Other well known Pilgrimage sites of Ugyen Guru Rimpoche are the Singye Dzong, the Baeyul Khenpajong and the Phunying La. Singye Dzong was founded by Yeshi Tsogyal and visited by Guru Rinpoche on his second visit to Bhutan, which is a three day trek from Khoma.
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 Lhuentse are stated to be the best in The country.