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Dinggyê County: Exploring the Hidden Gem of Southern Tibet

Dinggyê County, also known by its Tibetan name Tingkye, (གཏིང་སྐྱེས་རྫོང་།) is a picturesque region located in southern Tibet at the northern foot of the Himalayas. Dinggyê County is rich in history and natural beauty. The name “Dinggyê” translates to “emerging from the water” in Tibetan, deriving from the legend of a small mountain emerging from the depths of a lake. Nestled among the breathtaking landscapes of the Himalayan foothills, Dinggyê County shares borders with Gamba County to the east, Dingri County to the west, Saga County to the north, and neighbors Nepal and Sikkim to the south.

Historical Evolution of Dinggye county

Established during the Pakdru Dynasty in 1354, Dinggyê County underwent administrative changes over the centuries. During the Ganden Phodrang administration, it fell under the jurisdiction of the Kashag. Following 1959, the former administrative site of Dinggyê became the seat of the Dinggyê County People’s Government.

Administrative Development

In January 1960, Dinggyê County was officially established by merging the former Dinggyê, Kamba, Jinlongka, and Kongma areas of old Tibet. It now falls under the jurisdiction of the Xigaze Prefecture (City). Covering an area of 5834.6 square kilometers, Dinggyê County comprises 3 towns and 7 townships, with a population of 20,362 as of November 2020. The county government is based in Jiangga Town, situated at an altitude of 4300 meters and located 674 kilometers away from Lhasa.

Administration divisions of Dinggye

Dinggyê County is divided into 3 towns and 7 townships.

NameChineseHanyu PinyinTibetan
Towns
Gyangkar Town江嘎镇Jiānggā zhènརྒྱལ་མཁར་གྲོང་རྡལ།
Zhêntang Town陈塘镇Chéntáng zhènའདྲེན་ཐང་གྲོང་རྡལ།
Ri’og Town日屋镇Rìwū zhènརི་འོག་གྲོང་རྡལ།
Townships
Qab Township确布乡Quèbù xiāngཆབ་ཤང་།
Dinggyê Township定结乡Dìngjié xiāngགདིང་སྐྱེས་ཤང་།
Dozhag Township多布扎乡Duōbùzhā xiāngརྡོ་བྲག་ཤང་།
Tashi Nang Township扎西岗乡Zhāxīgǎng xiāngབཀྲ་ཤིས་སྣང་ཤང་།
Kyungzê Township萨尔乡Sà’ěr xiāngཁྱུང་རྩེ་ཤང་།
Sar Township萨尔乡Qióngzī xiāngགཟར་ཤང་།
Gojag Township郭加乡Guōjiā xiāngཀོ་ལྕག་ཤང་།

Geographical and Climatic Features

Dinggyê County boasts diverse topography and climate due to its location in the Himalayan foothills basin region. The terrain is characterized by high northern and southern elevations, with lower elevations in the central region. The eastern part consists of high-altitude plateau basins, while the central and western regions are dominated by river valleys such as Yeru Tsangpo and Jinlong River. The southern area comprises high-altitude, cold mountain ridges of the Himalayas, while the southwestern region features Chentang Gorge (འདྲེན་ཐང)with an average altitude of around 2500 meters and abundant virgin forests.

The climate of Dinggyê County falls within the plateau temperate semi-arid monsoon climate zone. While the Chentang forest (འདྲེན་ཐང) area enjoys a mild climate with abundant rainfall, most other areas experience ample sunshine, dry conditions, and frequent strong winds. The county receives an average of 3326 hours of sunshine per year, with a frost-free period of 100 days (200 days in Chentang), an annual precipitation of 236.2 millimeters, and an average annual temperature of 0°C. Natural disasters such as droughts, frosts, hailstorms, snow disasters, and flash floods are common in the region.

Specialty Products of Dinggyê County

Dinggyê County is characterized by its mixed agricultural and pastoral economy. With 40,000 mu of arable land, the main crops cultivated include barley, wheat, buckwheat, corn, and soybeans. The extensive grasslands spanning 2.3 million mu primarily support the raising of yaks, dzos, yellow cattle, sheep, and goats.

The region is rich in wildlife, including Tibetan antelopes, Himalayan tahr, argali, langurs, blue sheep, snow leopards, macaques, red pandas, golden cats, musk deer, masked palm civets, sika deer, and bharal. The diverse flora comprises long-pistil magnolia, water ash, Sikkim rhododendron, and Cotoneaster frigidus.

Noteworthy Products

Dinggyê County is renowned for its distinctive local products, including:

  1. Kadeng: Traditional Tibetan carpets known for their intricate designs and vibrant colors.
  2. Pulu: A type of woolen fabric made from the soft undercoat of Tibetan antelopes or yaks, known for its warmth and durability.
  3. Tibetan Blankets: Hand-woven blankets crafted by local artisans using traditional methods, prized for their quality and warmth.
  4. Pottery: Artisanal pottery crafted using traditional techniques, showcasing unique Tibetan designs and craftsmanship.

Additionally, the region is famous for its valuable medicinal herbs, including Cordyceps, Fritillaria, Gastrodia, Snow Lotus, Coptis, Panax notoginseng, and Cordyceps sinensis, totaling over 300 varieties.

Cordyceps sinensis:

A plant species belonging to the family Ophiocordycipitaceae. It is mainly found in the forests at an altitude of 3200 meters in Dinggyê County. The roots are slightly elongated and cylindrical, with a diameter of 0.8 to 1 centimeter. The stems are solitary, reaching heights of 12 to 20 centimeters. The leaves are ovate or ovate-heart-shaped, measuring 4 to 6 centimeters in length and 2.2 to 4 centimeters in width, with short petioles. The flowers are small, with a diameter of 2 to 2.5 centimeters, and the fruiting period is in June.

The roots and stems of Cordyceps sinensis are used in traditional medicine for their sedative, analgesic, hemostatic, detoxifying, astringent, expectorant, and uterine excitatory effects. They are employed to treat conditions such as dizziness, headaches, hypertension, neurasthenia, trauma, internal bleeding, lumbago, irregular menstruation, and carbuncles, both internally and externally.

Travel Transportation

Dinggyê County is served by three main roads: one leading to Shigatse via Sakya, another to Dingri via the Zhangmu Port, and the third to Gangba and Yadong. As of 2013, the county had a total road length of 307 kilometers, including one county road spanning 67 kilometers, two border roads totaling 99 kilometers, and one township road covering 44 kilometers.

Travel Tips:

  1. Dinggyê is located 263 kilometers from Shigatse. Tourists can take a bus from Shigatse to Dinggyê or choose to drive or hire a car, with charter fees ranging from 800 to 1200 yuan.
  2. Dinggyê is a border county. Visitors must obtain a border pass from the Public Security Bureau to explore the area.
  3. Apart from the Chen Tang forest area, where the climate is mild with abundant rainfall and a long frost-free period, most parts of Dinggyê experience distinct wet and dry seasons with ample sunshine, making it suitable for year-round tourism.

Monasteries in Dinggyê

Before 1959, Dinggyê County was home to 35 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries with 388 monks and nuns, including 223 lamas and 165 nuns. During the Cultural Revolution, all monasteries were destroyed, and most monks and nuns returned to secular life, with some fleeing abroad. After the Cultural Revolution, the Party’s religious policies were implemented, leading to the restoration of some monasteries and the gradual return of scattered cultural relics. By 2012, four monasteries had been restored, with 23 monks residing within them.

About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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