Theme Week Tibet – Gyantse

Friday, 25 October 2019 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General

Old Gyantse and Palcho Monastery © Antoine Taveneaux/cc-by-sa-3.0

Old Gyantse and Palcho Monastery © Antoine Taveneaux/cc-by-sa-3.0

Gyantse, officially Gyangzê Town, is a town located in Gyantse County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. It was historically considered the third largest and most prominent town in the Tibet region (after Lhasa, and Shigatse), but there are now at least ten larger Tibetan cities.

The town is strategically located in the Nyang Chu valley on the ancient trade routes from the Chumbi Valley, Yadong and Sikkim, which met here. From Gyantse, routes led to Shigatse downstream and also over the Karo La (Pass) to Central Tibet. The fortress (constructed in 1390) guarded the southern approaches to the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa. The town was surrounded by a wall 3 km long.

Gyantse Fortress © flickr.com - Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn)/cc-by-2.0 Old Town street © Luca Galuzzi/cc-by-sa-2.5 Palcho Monastery © Luca Galuzzi/cc-by-sa-2.5 Old Gyantse and Palcho Monastery © Antoine Taveneaux/cc-by-sa-3.0 Old Gyantse and the Gyantse Fortress © flickr.com - Steve Hicks/cc-by-2.0
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Old Gyantse and the Gyantse Fortress © flickr.com - Steve Hicks/cc-by-2.0
A British military garrison, consisting mainly of Indian soldiers, was stationed at Gyantse in the first half of the 20th century. It was referred to as a “small” outfit by Sir Walter Buchanan in 1919. Under the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama, it served as a military school to help train Tibetan officers. One Hank Baker, a radio operator posted in Tibet in World War II , is reported to have inspected “the Indian army garrison” “at Gyantse fort” in 1938. In 1940 the town was still garrisoned by British military.

Gyantse is notable for its restored Gyantse Dzong or fort, and its magnificent tiered Kumbum (literally, ‘100,000 images’) of the Palcho Monastery, the largest chörten in Tibet. The Kumbum was commissioned by a Gyantse prince in 1427 and was an important centre of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. This religious structure contains 77 chapels in its six floors, and is illustrated with over 10,000 murals, many showing a strong Nepali influence, which have survived almost entirely intact. They are the last of its kind to be found in Tibet. Many of the restored clay statues are of less artistry than the destroyed originals – but they are still spectacular. The town was nearly destroyed by flooding in 1954. After rioting in 1959, local industries were dismantled and artisans fled while others were placed in workcamps. Some 400 monks and laypeople were imprisoned in the monastery. During the Cultural Revolution, the fort, the monastery and Kumbum were ransacked. Precious objects were destroyed or sent out of Tibet. The chorten was spared. The main building of the Pelkor Chode or Palcho Monastery and the Kumbum have been largely restored but the dzong or fort is still largely in ruins. There is an “Anti-British Imperialism Museum” there which gives the PRC version of the 1904 British invasion. The sculpture that forms the centerpiece of the museum are two “Tibetan” warriors, but they were based on photos taken by Lt. G. J. Davys in Chumbi Valley of non-Tibetans doing fake battles, and the armor were worn backwards.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on lonelyplanet.com – Gyantse and Wikipedia Gyantse. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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