Lhuntse District (Dzongkha: ལྷུན་རྩེ་རྫོང་ཁག་; Wylie: Lhun-rtse rdzong-khag; previously "Lhuntshi"), is one of the 20 dzongkhag (districts) comprising Bhutan. It consists of 2506 households (Royal Government, Ninth Plan, pg. 2). Located in the northeast, Lhuntse is one of the least developed dzhongkhags of Bhutan. There are few roads, the first gas station was opened as recently as September 2005, electricity is not well distributed and the difficult terrain makes distribution of social welfare difficult. Despite its favourable climate, farming is also hindered by the difficult infrastructure.
Notably, eastern Bhutanese culture is distinctive in its relatively high alcohol consumption in relation to other parts of Bhutan. Ara, the traditional alcohol of Bhutan, is most often home made from rice or maize, either fermented or distilled, and may only be legally produced and consumed privately. Ara production is unregulated in both method and quality, and its sale has been prohibited in Bhutan and enforced since a severe crackdown. However, because Ara returns far more profit than other forms of maize, many Bhutanese farmers have pressed for legal reform. The Bhutanese government, meanwhile, is intent on discouraging excessive alcohol consumption, abuse, and associated diseases through taxation and regulation.
Through government efforts to reduce ara production and consumption in Lhuntse District, locals conceded in 2011 that something should be done to curb the distinctly eastern Bhutanese tradition of heavy drinking. The government's strategy is to reduce ara production and consumption gradually until it is eliminated. Alcoholism and ara production have been notable topics of political discussion Bhutan, especially at the local level. Ara, however, is also culturally relevant for its religious and medicinal uses. Previously in 2011, the government passed its Alcohol Control Regulation, which imposed up to three times the previous taxes on alcohol. As a result, alcohol sales have dropped and prices have risen.
Lhuntse is home to a variety of language groups. In the east, Dzala an East Bodish language, is spoken. In southern Lhuntse, Chocangacakha, a sister language to Dzongkha, is spoken. The northern and western parts of the district are known as the Kurtö region, where inhabitants speak the East Bodish Kurtöp language. This region is renowned as a textiles producing region, and also as the ancestral homeland of the Bhutanese royal family.
Lhuntse District is divided into eight village blocks (or gewogs):
Most of Lhuntse District is part of the environmentally protected areas of Bhutan. The district contains parts of Wangchuck Centennial Park in the north (the gewogs of Gangzur, Khoma and Kurtoe), Thrumshingla National Park in the south (the gewogs of Gangzur, Jarey and Metsho), and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east (the gewogs of Khoma and Minjay). These three parks are connected by biological corridors that crisscross the central and southern regions of the district.
back side view Lhuentse Dzong
Kuri Chu river flowing below the Lhuentse Dzong
Chorten below Lhuentse Dzong
Close view of Chorten
Archery Tournament at Lhuentse Dzong
On the weavers loom
- "Lhuentse Dzongkhag: Ninth Plan (2002-2007)" (PDF). Government of Bhutan. Retrieved Nov 28, 2005.
- Mowe, Sam (2011-06-02). "Making Moonshine: How to Make Bhutanese Rice Wine". Tricycle online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Wangdi, Tempa (2011-01-27). "Ara Production and Sale Should Be Legalized, Farmers Say". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Namgyal, Gyembo (2011-03-15). "Reduce Alcohol Abuse, Lyonchhen Urges Local Leaders". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Namgyal, Gyembo (2011-07-18). "Alcohol Price Hike Doesn't Quite Discourage Drinking". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Wangchuck, Jigme (2011-09-05). "Ara Faces Banishment in Lhuentse". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- Namgyal, Gyembo (2010-01-19). "It is Lhasoel Time in the East". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Dema, Tashi (2007-06-04). "Trongsa: Slithering with Snakes". Kuensel online. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
- Wangchuck, Jigme (2011-05-10). "Regulation and Duty Hit Bars". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
- Lhadon, Pema (2011-07-13). "Drinking Habit Peaks at the Peak of Learning?". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
- van Driem, George L. (1993). "Language Policy in Bhutan" (PDF). London: SOAS. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
- Peabody Essex Museum (1994). Diana K. Myers, Susan S. Bean, ed. From the land of the thunder dragon: textile arts of Bhutan. Serindia Publications. pp. 110, 176.
- "Parks of Bhutan". Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation online. Bhutan Trust Fund. Retrieved 2011-03-26.
- "Chiwogs in Lhuentse" (PDF). Election Commission, Government of Bhutan. 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
- Dzongkhag profile with map over gewogs
- Windhorsephotography Lhutse gallery
- Kuensel Online; sept 23. 2005: Lhuntse's first gas station