Ruins of the Guge Kingdom

One of the first important cultural relic sites under protection in the country, the grand palace ruins stand on a 300 meters tall yellow earth hill on the banks of the Xiangquan River in the Zaborang(Caparang) District at about 18 kilometers away from the Zada (Zhada) Country. The Xianngquan River (also called Langqen Zangbo) runs northwest from the Mapam Yumco. The river valley is broad with the earth fertile. Rising abruptly from the river bank, the ruins add much mystery to this area.

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The local regime known as Guge Kingdom started in the 10th century by the descendants of the Tubo Kingdom. In the 9th century, when Lang Dharma was assassinated, the Tubo Kingdom fell apart as civil wars surged. Jide Nyimagon, the great-grandson of Lang Dharma, led his followers to Ngari and set up the Guge Kingdom. The three sons of Nyimagon and their descendant later set up three regimes: Guge. Ladakh and Burang. The region had a glorious past. At its peak, the regime covered not only the entire Ngari, but also extended to Kashmir and today’s Pakistan. There are many opinions on how the Guge Kingdom disappeared. A widely acclaimed view says that in 1635, soldiers from the Ladakh Regime finally conquered the Guge Palace and ravaged the place into ruins. Every human being here was hunted down and killed. The last King of Guge and his family members were captured and then nothing was ever heard of them.The great Guge Kingdom thus bade adieu to the stage of history.

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Until today, the grandeur of the Guge Palace still makes one hold the breath. The castle-like palace was built along the mountain and commands a strategic point. Insides, there are underground tunnels leading to various directions; outside, the strong and thick walls are invincible like iron and copper. The ruins take up an area of 720000 square meters, consisting of 445 rooms, 879 caves, 58 pillboxes, four secret tunnels and 28 Buddhist pagodas. The hundreds of roons were piled up one after another till the top of the mountain. This is truly a unique imperial palace. Most of the caves have domes. There are the summer and winter palaces. Outside the ruins are city walls at the four corners of which are pillboxes. Preserved in good conditions today are te central hall, gongkang, scripture hall, Red Monastery, White Monastery, Samsara Monastery, Zhoimalhakang and Mani Stone Carving Wall. Inside and outside the ruins are a great vulume of relics such as grains, production tools, clothing and decorations, helmets, shields and arrows. They are preserved very well in the cold, dry air of the plateau. From the many caves at the ruins people have found many headless bodies which have turned into mummies. It’s also here that the first baby girl’s baby buried in the wall was found in the country. The baby about four years old is treasured in the Tibet autonomous region Museum.

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The Guge Kingdom has left a myriad of cultural heritage such as murals, colourful paintings, sculpture and very special wooden carvings. On the basis of the traditional Tubo arts, ancient Guge artists absorbed elements from India, Nepal and other neighbouring areas worshiping Buddhism. The special art has become known as the “Guge Art” among researchers home and abroad. There is a series of murals reflecting the heaven, the present world and the hell. The Buddhas’ images are all based on real people. With flowing line’s and vivid movements, the paintings are truly rare. Although centuries have passed, the murals are still bright and shiny as fresh as can be. Besides Sakyamumi, Guge King and their wives, the murals in the hall atop the mountain mainly depict the Buddha in a bright and daring style. The lower part of the murals vividly displays the suffering in hell. As the side decoration are dozens of naked of naked flying Apsaras whose charming elegance never copy from each other. Inside the Red, White and Samsara monasteries, the murals include Sakyamuni, the Tsampos of Tupo and their princes, as well as the Guge Kings and their subordinates. Judging from aesas the Guge Kings and their subordinates. Judging from aesthetic and artistic values, these murals can well be compared with the frescoes in Dunhuang of Northwest China’s Gansu Province. The sculpture here are also unique. Although they are not large in size, the percentage of the sculptures has been exaggerated so that they look like propping up the sky. The flying wooden roofs of the hall are carved with animals like lion, elephant, horse, dragon and peacock. The treasure of stone cavings was actually a wall of the ancient palace and served for defence. But they have become a combination of war and art. There are all together 4502 carved Buddhist figured and stone carving with Tibetan with Tibetan and Sanskrit scriptures. The weathering over the past centuries has rubbed most part of them to the ground. But Nature has also succeeded in adding more colours to the carvings which look even more artistic than the original artificial works. Another kind of carving was made on the cobblestones. There are two kinds of cobblestone carving, one is made by striking out disconnected lines; another is by carving out lines.

Tibet, western Tibet, Guge kingdom, Guge, Mound Guge, Ruins Guge, Ruins of the Guge Kingdom Tibet, western Tibet, Guge kingdom, Guge, Mound Guge, Ruins Guge, Ruins of the Guge Kingdom