Lhuntse, where the river runs green
The second place that was in my list of off beaten path was Lhuntse, another isolated district in Bhutan and is located about 77 Km / 3 hours’ drive from Mongar.
Trust me even many a Bhutanese have not reached this place owing to the long traveling distance and there is nothing much to do here. But this is what exactly what I wanted to do . . . . Nothing, just wanted to be in tune with the palpating heartbeat of the nature in its silence.
And my eagerness to go there was boosted by the news that Je-Khenpo is going to reside there on 2019 winter. So thought if I am lucky, I may get a personal audience which otherwise would be difficult here in Thimphu.
And thus my journey began with my travel companion with same taste and pace.
If you are planning to visit to Lhuntse from Thimphu or Paro, it will take minimum of two nights on road as it is located in the northeastern corner of Bhutan. But for us journey is more fun than destiny so took triple the time. Before reaching Lhuntse , stopped at Gangtey Valley which is perhaps scenically one of the most beautiful valley in Bhutan and its beauty is enhanced by the coming of majestic Black Necked Crane in winter.
Stayed another two nights in Bumthang and visited the valley of Tang, Maebar Tsho(The Burning Lake), Ta Rimoche which I had missed out in my last visit to Bumthang.
And on 5th night, we were there at Yonkola (The Birder Paradise) about 30Km away from Mongar and chose to hold night at Trogon Villa rather than in midst of Mongar Town.
And finally on sixth day we were heading for Lhuntse.
This ancient region of Kurtoe or Lhuntse is the ancestral home of our kings and prides itself of hosting multiple sacred sites of pilgrimage. Culture-driven conservation has endured here.
The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs towering above river gorges and dense coniferous forests.
In our whole journey from Mongar to Lhuntse we just encountered one car. It was like traveling back in time.
The place is so secluded that there is not even a single 3* hotel here. So we had a choice either to stay in a budget hotel or home stay or at a Monastery. And for a change me and my travel companion chose to stay in monastery whose In-Charge we were well acquainted with; and it was perhaps one of the highlights of this tour.
We stayed at Dudzom monastery, which sat precariously on mountain top, standing there you can just feel you can kiss the sky.
In the morning and evening we sat with the little monks and joined them in their prayers.
Khandrola Damchoe (Recognized as the reincarnation of some great saints) was also residing there. She was another amazing woman that we encountered in this journey. She was recognized as Khandrola after her graduation and her presence was mesmerizing . It was amazing to watch how people stay so contend with simple things.
We also visited nearby villages and places of attraction.
To mention few, one was Khoma Village , 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. The other was Ganjur village which used to be famous for pottery but due to urban migration, there is only single family engaged in pottery now.
Some of the attractions in the region include the Lhuntse Dzong, , Singye Dzong, the beyul Khenpajong and the Phunying Pass and ofbcourse the famous Takila Guru Rinpoche statue.
Most of Lhuntse district is part of the environmentally protected areas of Bhutan. The district contains parts of Wangchuck Centennial Park in the north, Thrumshingla National Park in the south and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east. These three parks are connected by biological corridors that crisscross the central and southern regions of the district.
We also could get the personal audience from Je-Khenpo, another best part of the tour. And got a golden opportunity to have a meal at His Holiness parent’s house.
So all in one had an amazing experience and yes ‘Happiness is a Place’.
Contributed By: Namgyelma