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Guge

The mysterious ancient kingdom of Guge lies in Zanda county in the Ngari prefecture in Tibet's south west, almost on the border with India. In the Sutlej valley, in the shadow of the mighty Mount Kailash, the ruins of the once great capital and its surroundings can be found. Founded in the 10th century by the descendent of the last Emperor of Tibet, it's cited as the start of the second wave of Buddhism into Tibet. Ruled, conquered and annexed by dynasties and monarchies over the years and finally lost in the 17th century in mysterious circumstances, the site of Guge was rediscovered in the 1980s during a large archaeological project, and now tells a fascinating story of the area's history.

Built into an earthy hill, the sculptures, carvings and murals were that were discovered, not to mention the houses, once-inhabited caves, monasteries and soaring stupas are an irresistible draw for visitors seeking to find the treasures revealed in this sprawling site. To explore Guge is to journey back in time and discover the relics, sculptures and murals uncovered in these sacred buildings, lost for three centuries.

The mysterious ancient kingdom of Guge lies in Zanda county in the Ngari prefecture in Tibet's south west, almost on the border with India. In the Sutlej valley, in the shadow of the mighty Mount Kailash, the ruins of the once great capital and its surroundings can be found. Founded in the 10th century by the descendent of the last Emperor of Tibet, it's cited as the start of the second wave of Buddhism into Tibet. Ruled, conquered and annexed by dynasties and monarchies over the years and finally lost in the 17th century in mysterious circumstances, the site of Guge was rediscovered in the 1980s during a large archaeological project, and now tells a fascinating story of the area's history.

Built into an earthy hill, the sculptures, carvings and murals were that were discovered, not to mention the houses, once-inhabited caves, monasteries and soaring stupas are an irresistible draw for visitors seeking to find the treasures revealed in this sprawling site. To explore Guge is to journey back in time and discover the relics, sculptures and murals uncovered in these sacred buildings, lost for three centuries.

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Dukhang Assembly Hall

Adorning the walls of the central, single-storey hall are detailed paintings of emperors, monks, lamas and deities. They are depicted in bright vivid colors and clothed in rich textiles - a fascinating insight into the artistic style and dress of the time.

Silver Eye Statue

The Guge Kingdom was rich in gold and silver and these precious metals were used in much of the sculptural designs. Perhaps the most famous is the Guge Silver Eye, an intricately-carved and miraculously-preserved sculpture.

Surrounding villages

Surrounding the site are the neighboring villages of Dongga, Daba and Pingyang. Though the original inhabitants of Guge kingdom were all but wiped out in the 17th century, many of their treasure and relics were rescued and now have their homes in these humble villages.

Tholing Monastery

Once the capital of the Guge region, Tholing was home to one of the oldest and most important monasteries, central to Tibet’s second diffusion of Buddhism. Built in distinctive red brick, it’s surrounded by ruins but many of its central buildings and artifacts have survived including beautiful sutras written in silver ink.

Yeshe-Ö Temple

Part of the Tholing monastery complex, the temple is built of mud brick with elaborate, decorated towers. In the 10th century, the Indian master Atisa organized one of the first conferences here and two exquisite, detailed murals remain intact despite heavy demolition over the centuries.

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