frame_r copy

Untitled Document


Travel Information, special tours, and links


  Donate Us
  View our projects

All contents of this website © 2010 Kailashzone Charitable Foundation

The Guge Kingdom of Ancient Civilization of Tibet


Guge, or Tsamda (Zhada), is one of the three regions of Ngari, situated to the South-west of Mount Kailash and bordering India on the west. Tsamda is encircled by a unique earthen forest. Langchen Khabab (Sutlej River), one of the four rivers of Ngari, flows westward through the region. Tsamda (Zhada), with a population of 5,087, is currently one of the seven counties in the Ngari prefecture. The main produce of the region comes from the nomadic people and includes, amongst other things, butter, meat and wool. Tsamda is particularly well-known for its numbers of Zo (both male and female cow-yak crossbreeds).

Main Tourist Attractions of Guge

The Ruin of the Gugue Kingdom

A damaged Statue The Ruins of the Guge Kingdom are a modern reminder of the history of Ngari and Tibet. Guge was a regional kingdom, which was established in the 10th century after the monarchy of Tibet collapsed. The ruins of the Guge Kingdom cover 180,000 square meters on a hilltop near a river and used to include a castle of 300 rooms. The kings, who ruled over the region for 700 years, built their palaces on the summits and the Guge monasteries on the mountainsides. There are 300 caves, where the common people lived, at the foot of the hill.

Nowadays, the Guge Kingdom is not only a holy site for pilgrims but also a rich resource for research into Tibetan archaeology and history. The main sites of interest for tourists are the Red Temple, White Temple. Samsara Temple, Palace Hall and Guardian's Hall. The murals, sculpture and stone carving represent the unique style of the Guge Kingdom, which bear witness to the profound religious beliefs, the recorded history and culture, and the artistic skills, of the people. The themes of those murals, which are hundreds of years old but still in splendid condition, are mainly stories of Buddha Shakyamuni, and the Kings of Guge and their ministers. According to the book "Ngari Tibet" the Guge Kingdom was listed by the States Council as one of the first key sites to be preserved for its cultural relics."

Tholing MonasteryTholing monastery was founded in 997 by the second Guge King, Song-Ngi (his ordination name was Lha Lama Yeshi-O) and Lochen Rinchen Sangpo. The monastery, which was built some 20 kilometers away from the ancient palace, symbolizes Mount Sumeru. It is architecturally unique to the world, as it had been constructed without any pillars to support the roof. Inside the monastery, there were seven main temples, including Golden Temple, White Temple and Gathering Hall, and some of those temples contained several smaller shrines in which to place the precious images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, dharma books, paintings and dharma products. Some of the most precious Tholing objects are: Dechog (Chakrasamvara), a golden Buddha, a medicine Buddha, an Avalokitesvara, a white Tara.

A Stupa  at Tholing Monastery

During the Cultural Revolution in Tibet, the monastery was destroyed and most of the contents lost forever Fortunately, however, a few of the precious objects were brought to India and a new Tholing monastery was founded in South India to house them.

A Picture of the Earthen Forest

The Earthen Forest is one of the visitor attractions in Tsamda. The regional county is situated in the forest and there is easy access for tourists to walk in the unique landscape and to view the wonderful scenery of the earthen forest. It is believed that the region was originally full of water. Eventually, as the water level decreased, the topsoil was washed away by floodwater and formed the earthen forest, an amazing and skilful creation of many different shapes. Wall Painting of Buddhas

Donggar and Piyang Grottoes, believed to be some 1,000 years old, lie around 40 kilometers from Tsamda County and the ruins of the Guge Kingdom. Donggar is a village in the foothills of a mountain. The 200 caves of Donggar Grottoes are in the cliffs to the north of the village and cover about 2 kilometers of the mountain. The ancient murals, figures and models are vivid representation of Buddhists stories and there are various kinds of mandala and so on.

Some of the Deeds of the Guge Kings

A Damaged Seat of a Buddha

Tashi Gon, the first King of the Guge Kingdom, had two sons - Song-Ngi, born in 975, and Kori. Song-Ngi was crowned the King of Guge at a young age. He had two sons - Deba Raza and Naga Raza. Kori had a son called Lhade. Kori was responsible for sending twenty-one young Tibetans, including Lochen Rinchen Sangpo and Lochung Legpe Yeshi, to Kashmir with a large amount of gold to learn Buddhism and arts and sciences (including medicine, astronomy, painting and writing). Lochen Rinchen Sangpo received teachings from 75 Indian masters and became learned in both Sutra and Tantric Buddhism and general knowledge, including literature, composition, and the science of healing and medicine. On his return to Ngari, he translated a number of Indian Sutra and Tantric texts into Tibetan and established the tradition of transmitting empowerment and practicing in solitary retreats. In addition, he translated the eight chapters of the science of the medicine and its commentary "Tsed Don Daser" into Tibetan and introduced the teaching tradition.

Later, two great Indian masters were invited to Ngari and, with their help, the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism and the four classes of Tantric teachings were translated and the tradition established of training in control over undesirable behavior to gain ultimate happiness. The famous Tholing monastery was then built in 997, with sponsorship from the Guge King.

While King Song-Ngi was ruling the country, he studied the religious acts of his predecessors and grew increasingly dissatisfied with worldly activities. Finally, he left the kingdom to his younger brother, Kori, and, in 1017, he and his two sons were ordained (according to monastic law) by the Abbot, Yeshi Sangpo. The King's ordination name was Lha Lama Yeshi-O.

A damaged StatueLater, in order to secure the region against political interference and to protect Buddhism, Lha Lama Yeshi Od, although no longer King, went to war. He lost in battle against Gorlog, a Muslim country, and was captured. The Gorlog King announced two conditions by which the life of Lha Lama Yeshi Od could be saved. Firstly, Lha Lama Yeshi Od was told to stop believing in the "Three Jewels", Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and to convert to Islam. Secondly, the King demanded his own weight in gold. Lha Lama Yeshi Od refused to accept these conditions. While he was in prison, the news reached the Guge Kingdom and Jangchup Od went to Gorlog and visited the imprisoned Lha Lama Yeshi-O. Jangchup-O informed him that the Guge Kingdom had collected an amount of gold but they had not yet gathered as much as the size of his head. Lha Lama Yeshi-O told Jangchup-O that he was old and he wouldn't be able to help anyone. Instead, he should use the gods to invite the great Indian master, Atisha and to restore the Tholing monastery. Lha Lama Yeshi-O’s final words were “do everything to preserve and promote Buddhism”. Lha Lama Yeshi Od passed away in the Garlog prison in 1037.

King Kori built Korcheg monastery and three other monasteries. His son, Lha De, invited the two great Indian masters, Pu-va-She and Meru to come to Guge and translated several Buddhist philosophical books. Lhade had three sons; the eldest, Gelong Sheva Od, was highly-educated in Tibetan and Indian studies and translated many Buddhist books, including the philosophical book by the great Indian master, Shewa Tso, ("Shantarakrhita"). The second son, Lha Lama Chub Od, put all his energy into collecting a large amount of gold. He sent Tseltrim Gyal and several companions with the gold to invite the great Indian master, Atisha, to come to Guge. The master came in 1072 and his arrival brought about a restoration of Tibetan Buddhism, which had been dying. In Tibetan history, this period is known as "Tenpa Pyider", "the second flourishing of Buddha Dharma".



Sacred sites at the Mount Kailash  |  Senge Tenzin Rinpoche  |  Ngari: western Tibet  
                                          |  Limi: northwestern Nepal  | Dolpo: eastern Nepal