The Ruins of Gongtang Kingdom in Gyirong County, Shigatse

Chinese Name: 贡塘王城遗址
English Name: The Ruins of Gongtang Kingdom in Gyirong County, Shigatse
Location: Located in Gyirong County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region
Admission Fee: Free
Opening Hours: All Day

About the Ruins of Gongtang Kingdom

The 11th century AD witnessed a division of Tibetan Kingdom. The descendants of Songtsen Gampo(松赞干布) fled to Gyirong and then founded Gongtang Kingdom, whose Ruins are now in the southwest of Gyirong County(吉隆县).

History and Development of the Ruins of Gongtang Kingdom

Back to that time, militaries of Tibetan Kingdom all separate to establish their own power and conflicts happened from time to time. People all lived in an abyss of misery due to fierce tribal hostilities. Gongtang Kingdom(贡塘王朝), foot on a border area, had to fight with forces of Tibet, at the same time; it must fend off the invasion of Nepal and India. The palace of Gongtang Dynasty, at the cost of three centuries building, is not so much a palace than the system of military defense. The Kingdom finally extended to a 23rd generation and ruled Gyirong for more than 600 years.

Main Attractions— the Chimaiqudan Tower

Among all the existing walls and turrets, the Chimaiqudan Tower, at the eastern corner of Gyirong County, is a relatively complete ruin. Chimaiqudan means “eliminate calamity and exempt disaster”. The city walls were built by man hands. The peripheries of the foot of walls are based on the local natural stones, and the middle is filled with soil to form a base for about 1m high.
These walls were built in layers with local loess mixed up with gravel. The thickness of each layer was up to 40-60cm, and that of the walls was over 2m, with some parts placed with planks. This building technique was popular from the countries of Central Asia to Central Plains of Tang Dynasty. Once the sticky soil, exposed to the strong sunlight on the plateau, drying and forming, it could be as hard as the cement of our age. Even one hit the walls with hard metal tools; there will just leave a few white dots. The walls all had loopholes to shoot and scout. The loopholes are shaped as wider in the inner part and become narrower to the outside, and of various types: trapezoid or square. Moreover, the embrasures between the floors were meticulously constructed and interlaced distributed, so that soldiers were able to form a tense firepower and defensive shields without a weakness place. The turrets spread as the shape of “日”. The doorway is wide enough for only one person to pass at a time.
Standing high at the city gate, one could have a further view for 5km in every direction to control the whole city. If there was alert, the guards could give an alarm to the inner city, as well as organize an effective defense network, depends on enemies’ condition.

The Existing Parts of Gongtang Kingdom Palace Ruins

Gongtang Kingdom Palace Ruins now has four existing parts. The four corners have turrets; the middle segments are built with forts. Besides, there is an old temple named Dolma Lhakhang in the city. The incomplete barbican and the time-honored watchtower now are witnesses of history.

Attraction Transportation:

Up to 1960 one of the main trade routes between Nepal and Tibet passed through this region. Easily accessible from Nepal, it was used several times as an entrance gate for military actions from the site of Nepal against Tibet. In 2017, Chinese soldiers began building a new road on the Tibetan side of the border, and intend to continue construction into Nepal pending approval from Kathmandu.

Gyirong County shares convenient transportation, so you can take the aircraft or train, even driving to here. The Shigatse Peace Airport is 525.7 km from Gyirong County which takes you 14 hours to drive. The trains have been opened from Lhasa to Shigatse. The whole journey is 253 kilometers, about 3 hours drive and just cost 40 yuan.  

Attraction Travel Tips:

  1. Traveling Hours: 1 day
  2. Traveling Seasons: Summer and Autumn 
  3. High Altitude Sickness Avoiding: Bring enough water or drinks, fruits and snacks with high caloric content.
  4. Pay attention to  prepare some cold weather gear like a hat, gloves, a scarf and a thick winter coat.