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History of Ngari

Ngari Travel Guide

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The Ngari Plateau, formed millions of years ago due to the rising of Kunlun Mountains and the orogenic movement of Himalayas Mountains, is called the “roof of the world”. The early history of Ngari civilization dates back to the periods of Zhangzhung Kingdom, Tupo Kingdom, Guge Kingdom, and so forth.

Ngari is the cradle of the ancient Zhangzhung Culture and the homeland of the Tibetan religion of Bon. Zhangzhung Kingdom (from 2nd to 7th century) was founded in the western part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as early as the 2nd or the 3rd century. During the 7th century, Liyifu, the King of Zhangzhung Kingdom married Semaka, daughter of Trison Detsanm, King of Tupo Kingdom (629 A.D~842/846 A.D), thus starting the alliance between Zhangzhung Kingdom and Tupo Kingdom. However, Prince Semarka’s marriage ended up in divorce. Then Tupo Kingdom waged a war on the Zhangzhung Kingdom and dethroned Liyifu. In 644, Tupo conquered Zhangzhung by force.

In 846 (or 842 according to some historic records), Glang Darma, the last King of Tupo, was killed. After his death, fierce fights for the throne broke out in Tupo. The imperial courts also suffered attacks from the populace and slave uprisings. Gyide Nyimagun, a grandson of Glang Darma, ran away to Zhabyran of Yangtung (Zhada County today) and married Melhu, daughter of a local official of Yangtung. They built the Gukanisong Castles in the eastern part of Gar of Burang, which became the center of Ngari. Gyide Nyimagun became the King of Ngari. To avoid repeating lessons of his ancestors, he divided the Ngari region into three parts and let his three sons to rule over them. The eldest son Ribagun occupied Moyu, which centered on Leh of current Kashmir. Ribagun later became the leader of Ladakh (the present Indian Kashmir). The second son Zhaxi Deguan held Burang, an area centering on the current Burang County and became the local leader. The youngest son Dezogun occupied Zhabyran, an area centering on the current Zhada County. For the first time in the history of Ngari, the “three Ngari kingdoms”, Ladakh Kingdom, Burang Kingdom and Sanga Kingdom, were formed.

Later, Dezogun founded the Guge Kingdon in Guge (the present Zhada County). In 1076 (the Fire Dragon Year according to the Tibetan calendar), under the sponsorship of Dezogun, a Grand Summons Ceremony was held in the Tholing Monastery, which was 20 km away from the Guge Palace. During this Ceremony, senior monks from Tibet and Dokang Region [Do means Amdo, kang means Camu, the Dokang region is the area of the present southern Qinghai, the Chamdo Prefecture in Tibet and Garze region in Sichuan] discussed rules of the Tibetan Buddhism and passed on religious doctrines. This Ceremony was historically significant in the history of Guge Kingdom and the development of the Tibetan Buddhism.

As the Guge Kingdom became more and more mighty, the Burang and Ladakh Kingdom acknowledged allegiance to it. At that time, Guge Kingdom was famous in the whole Tibet, even the central Asia. When Guge Kingdom was at its prime period, the Tibetan Buddhism culture thrived. The quality of the entire nation was also developed. Nine skills, toxophily, stone bumping, jumping, walking, swimming, rassling, talking, writing and calculating were popular for men to practice at that time. What’s more, fossicking, smelting, pottery making, foundry, construction design, painting, sculpting and printing skills had developed to a high level.

In the 1730s, the King of Ladakh took over the control of the Guge Kingdom and occupied Guge, Burang and Rutog for nearly half a century. In the 1780s, Ladakh’s army were defeated by the Mongol-Tibet army dispatched by the 5th Dalailama. From then on, the politics, economics and transport of Ngari centered in Gargunsa (Gardakh) until Ngari was liberated peacefully in 1952 [Gar is located 120 km southwest to the present Shiquanhe Town, the capital city of Ngari. Gar is made up of two places: Gargunsa (meaning the winter barracks, also the living place in winter) and Garyar-sa (meaning the summer barracks, also the living place in summer)].

Located on the north bank of Shiquanhe River, the upper Indian River, Shiquanhe Town was built first in 1964. It is not only the center of politics, economics and culture of Ngari, but also an important juncture of the transport from Xinjiang toTibet.

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