Given the historical importance of the Jigme Namgyel Naktshang in Dungkar—the ancestral home of Wangchuk Dynasty, works are underway by the Lhuentse Dzongkhag administration to turn the 16th-century structure of immense historical importance into a museum within the 12th FYP.
According to Jambay Wangchuk, the Lhuentse Dzongda, there are many initiatives in this plan period to promote tourism in the dzongkhag.
“Promotion of tourism in the dzongkhag is going to have a huge impact on the lives of the people and will also provide economic stability. If we focus on tourism-related activities in the dzongkhag, there will be more tourists visiting. It will also provide youth employment and also cover a lot of other aspects of economic development,” said Jambay Wangchuk.
Jambay Wangchuk said that there are various plans and initiatives that will be undertaken to promote Lhuentse as an attractive tourist destination owing to its many sacred sites of historical importance. “We are also planning to complete the works to turn Jigme Namgyel Naktshang into a museum tentatively within a year which will further boost tourism in the locality and improve the livelihoods of the people.”
The 40km Gewog Centre road from Lhuentse Dzong towards the north leads to the magnificent Jigme Namgyel Naktshang facing the Dungkar Choeje Lhakhang on the lower side of the village just a few distances away.
The Gewog has been named thus, owing to the physical shape of the land that has a definite resemblance to that of a Dungkar (conch).
Dungkar Choeje Lhakhang is the birthplace of the Wangchuk Dynasty and it is said to stand on the tip of the Dungkar-like shape of the land. Two of the famed figures in the history of Bhutan, Pila Goenpo Wangyel and Pala Gyeltshen were born in Dungkar Choeje Lhakhang.
Pila Goenpo Wangyel was born in 1782 and he later married Sonam Pelzom of Jangsa and gave birth to three sons and a daughter—their second son, Jigme Namgyel (father of the first king of Bhutan) was born in 1825, predestined to change the destiny of Bhutan forever.
The Jigme Namgyel Naktshang built by Pila Goenpo Wangyel, with its monumental physical structure, interior grandeur, and spectacular architectural design towers over the Dungkar village with tacit prominence. It was first known as Pila Naktsang, then as Khetanbi Naktsang, and as the birthplace of Jigme Namgyel, it is today known as the Jigme Namgyel Naktsang.
Dungkar gup Ugyen Tshering said that the plans and discussions to turn Jigme Namgyel Naktshang into a museum were initiated as early as during the time of the first government. “We hope that tourist arrivals will increase in the Gewog with such initiatives and most importantly, tourists and our younger generations will have a better understanding of the historic significance of the Naktshang.”
Kurtoe has about 7 homestays in total but Gup Ugyen Tshering said that there are no tourists availing the service exception of just two groups a few years back. “As far as I know the homestay services have remained idle with tourist returning back as soon as they visit the two Naktshangs, they don’t stay over to explore the village around.”
The gup said the visitors flock to Kurtoe to visit the Naktshangs mostly during winter and that the numbers have only been increasing over the years.
Dungkar Primary School located just next to the Jigme Namgyel Naktshang is expected to be relocated as part of the planning process to turn the Naktshang into a museum.