Did the mermaid of Luetshokha Tsho fall in love with a handsome cow herder?


The intriguing story of Luetshokha Tsho (Samtengang Lake)

Luetshokha Tsho (Samtengang Lake)

No, the mermaid of Luetshokha Tsho didn’t fall in love with a devilishly handsome cow herder as portrayed in the beautifully made Bhutanese movie ‘The Mermaid’. However, Luetshokha Tsho (Samtengang Lake) has an equally intriguing story to how it came about to be.

According to oral tradition, the current foot-shaped lake used to be the paddy field of a man named Phub Tenzin from Laekokha (a place few minutes walk from the lake). He used to grow barley in this field. One such spring evening, he harvested his barley for the year and laid the bundled plants out in the field to dry. When he was settling in his shed for the night to guard the plants, a gorgeous girl with a bucket of milk turned up at his door.

She requested him to let her sleep in his shed since it was late and she had nowhere to stay for the night. She assured him that she would look after his plants and told him to go home to his family. After much hesitation on his part and persistence on hers, he agreed.

Once he left, the girl stood in the centre of the field, poured the milk over her head and the field turned into a lake. In the morning, Ap Phub Tenzin returned to his barley plants floating in the newly formed lake with no slight sign of what the field used to be. Enraged, he shouted out loud that he’d burst the lake and started digging with his spade. The narrow passage through which you walk to the lake is believed to be what he dug to burst the lake.

The passage Ap Phub Tenzin attempted to make to discharge the lake water

The girl who is a mermaid, then appeared in the middle of the lake - half-human and fish tail waist down. She told him that it was her fate to be there and begged him not to discharge the water from the lake. He argued that the field gave him bountiful harvest and wouldn’t budge. She offered him a ’Tsho Lang’ (water bull) in exchange and told him that having it will naturally shower his household with wealth. Convinced, the man took the water bull and went home.

Before long, ‘Lhabue’ - a local tradition of praying to the local deities to be blessed with wealth and health happened. On the day, people make a bowl with cooked rice, mould bull from steamed rice, place the bull in the bowl, put wheat before the bull and put everything on display at Kuenzangling (a place about half an hour walk from Laekoha) as a form of offering to the local deities. Ap Phub Tenzin didn’t make his bull from rice and instead placed the water bull that the mermaid offered in his rice bowl for the occasion. People walked around to check out the best bull.

Ap Dorji from Chimtshiling (a place near Kuenzarling) was one of the spectators. While walking about and admiring the art work, to his surprise, he saw the bull in one of the rice bowls eating the wheat placed before it and using its horn to dig the rice bowl. He knew it for what it was. He rushed home, moulded a similar bull, exchanged it with the water bull and took the latter home. He wrapped it in a white scarf and placed it in his wall. It wasn’t long before he prospered. Today, the same family is one of the wealthiest in the area. It’s said that the family still has the water bull in the walls of the house. While rebuilding their family house in recent years, the wall in which the water bull is said to be embedded wasn’t dismantled and the new house was built on it.

House of Ap Dorji

People from the area still go to the lake to make offerings on auspicious days.

Years back when the lake was in its full glory, there used to be two small portions of the lake in the centre where the water was unusually clear in one portion while the other portion had grass growing in it. People say that those are the eyes of the deity. It’s said that the lake attacked an old lady grazing cows near the lake and the lady took off her wrapper and hit the eye, thus one eye was blinded and had grass growing in it.

People also say that it’s the female lake while one at Lamperi Botanical Garden is the male lake and both are ‘La Tsho’ of Gangtey Truelku.

Luetshokha Tsho is located near Samtengang School in Nyishog Gewog under Wangdue Phodrang and is one of the oldest lakes in the gewog. With concrete pavement around the lake, people can now walk around and enjoy the view if one goes on a weekend getaway.

Related Posts

Wangdue Phodrang - The gateway to the far-flung corners of Bhutan

Known as Sha or east to the Bhutanese, Wangduephodrang district is an important gateway to the far-flung corners of...

May 27, 2020 08:47

Bhutan is the perfect destination for luxury travel

The definition of 'luxury travel' has changed because of COVID-19.

Jun 01, 2021 18:32

8 most popular festivals in Bhutan that you should check out

Bhutanese festivals are colourfully vibrant affairs that draw crowds from all over the world.

May 14, 2021 17:15

Bhutan's national parks and wildlife sanctuaries

Bhutan is a green country with a rich environment, magnificent mountains, beautiful landscapes, and rich wildlife and...

May 05, 2021 12:16

Bhutan champions Waddling Tour, an activity that's completely new...

Bhutan is in the midst of developing new tourism products. The country is gearing up to make the tourism industry in the...

Mar 29, 2021 10:06

One of the fun things you can do in Bhutan is whitewater rafting

Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular outdoor activities for travellers to Bhutan as it's a family-friendly...

Mar 24, 2021 13:20



The sacrifice of an extraordinary King in these difficult times

“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” – John Wooden

Jun 14, 2021 16:57

Bhutan is hopeful of lifting restrictions on tourism after second dose of COVID-19 vaccination

It’s been 9-week since the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Bhutan.

Jun 04, 2021 13:20


RENEW's Livelihood Project: Lighting up the lives of women

Her Majesty the Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wangchuck founded RENEW (Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women) in 2004.

Jun 17, 2021 11:32

6 reasons to get your very own 'Bhutan: Travelog'

A book that will tell you everything you need to know, see, taste, do, and enjoy in Bhutan? Take my money!

Jun 16, 2021 12:37


Support authentic Bhutanese handicrafts by local artisans

Whether you are interested in artisanal Bhutanese handicrafts or boutique sourced products with contemporary touch, the incredible...

Mar 25, 2021 12:09

Authentic Bhutanese Souvenirs from Eastern Bhutan

Every district and village produce distinct products in Bhutan. To encourage rural communities to produce more authentic souvenirs and...

Dec 25, 2020 22:13


What's with the unique archery culture in Bhutan?

In Bhutan, archery is more than just a sport. It is a way of life. The dancing, the singing, the drinking—it is a manifestation of the...

Apr 19, 2021 10:40

Contributing to the country through the love for football

It's been a month since the conclusion of Bhutan Premier League 2020. Daily Bhutan interviews Paro FC to find out more about the club. Below...

Dec 21, 2020 17:05


Bhutan is the perfect destination for luxury travel

The definition of 'luxury travel' has changed because of COVID-19.

Jun 01, 2021 18:32

8 most popular festivals in Bhutan that you should check out

Bhutanese festivals are colourfully vibrant affairs that draw crowds from all over the world.

May 14, 2021 17:15


What are some of the Bhutanese beliefs and superstitions

For a country deeply rooted in spirituality, you will find Bhutanese especially the Buddhist rely on astrology for major events in life....

May 25, 2021 11:17

Khata: The multipurpose Bhutanese scarf

“Khatas are the Buddhist equivalent of a hallmark card.” —Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming

Apr 29, 2021 10:53

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!