Posted on 03/22/2008

Photo taken on May  5, 2004


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Gyantse and its Dzong

Gyantse and its Dzong
The fortress guarded the southern approaches to the Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa.
Gyantse is the fourth largest city in Tibet (after Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo). It is often referred to as the "Hero City" because during the British Younghusband expedition of 1904, the 500 soldiers of the Gyantse fort held the fort for several days before they were overcome by the British forces.
Gyantse is notable for 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 pretty well intact. They are the last of this type 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 in 1954 and was largely emptied of people by the Chinese in 1959. During the Cultural Revolution the monastery and Kumbum were ransacked or destroyed.


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