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Exploring Maldro Gongkar: The Historical and Cultural Jewel of Tibet

Introduction to Maldro Gongkar

Maldro Gongkar, historically known as Mal-gro-gung-dkar, is a region rich in Tibetan history and culture. It holds great significance as the birthplace of notable Tibetan figures like Songtsen Gampo and Ngabo Ngawang Jigme. Often referred to as the “East Gate” of Lhasa, Maldro Gongkar is centrally located in Tibet, nestled within the middle and upper stretches of the Lhasa River and west of Mira Mountain.

Geographic Significance

Positioned between a north latitude 29.6 to 30.3 degrees and east longitude 91.5 to 92.5 degrees, Maldro Gongkar spans an area of 5,620 square kilometres. This region, once the territory of the Subi tribe during ancient times, later fell under various jurisdictions throughout history, including the Tubo period’s Weiru and the Yuan Dynasty’s Zhigong Wanhu Prefecture.

Administrative Evolution

The county of Maldro Gongkar, established in 1959 and under the administration of Lhasa City, comprises one town and seven townships. As of November 2020, it has a permanent population of 49,511. In a remarkable transformation, Maldro Gongkar withdrew from its status as a poverty-stricken county in October 2018.

Maldro Gongkar stands out for its harmonious fusion of traditional ethnic architecture with modern elements, creating a unique urban style in its agricultural and pastoral communities. The buildings in the region showcase a rich ethnic heritage infused with contemporary influences. In 2021, Maldro Gongkar earned recognition as a model county in Tibet, a testament to its success in development and cultural preservation.

Exploring the Cultural Richness of Maldro Gongkar County

Timeless Tourist Routes in Maldro Gongkar County

  1. Exquisite Route One-Day Tour
    • Highlights: Gaze Temple, Dezhong Hot Spring, Drigung Ti Temple, Jiama Scenic Area.
    • Experience: This route offers a blend of spiritual serenity and natural beauty, ideal for those seeking a day of tranquillity and cultural immersion.
  2. A Happy Life One-Day Trip
    • Destinations: Jiama Scenic Area, Riduo Hot Spring, Mujiale, Sijinlacuo Lake, Mila Mountain.
    • Overview: This journey is a celebration of life, combining the soothing effects of hot springs with the breathtaking beauty of lakes and mountains.
  3. Leisure and Vacation One-Day Trip
    • Itinerary: Jiama Scenic Area, Drigung Reservoir, Gaze Hot Spring.
    • Purpose: Perfect for a day of relaxation, this trip offers a peaceful retreat in picturesque settings, blending natural and man-made wonders.
  4. Ecological and Environmental Protection One-Day Trip
    • Route: Jiama Scenic Area, Sea Buckthorn Forest (Zhaxigang), Sibugou Panchen Ranch, Sijinlacuo Lake.
    • Focus: This tour emphasizes ecological preservation and sustainable tourism, showcasing the region’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
  5. Cultural Customs One-Day Trip
    • Stops: Drigung Ti Temple, Xialakang, Dapu Astronomical Observatory, Taba Pottery.
    • Attraction: A journey through the heart of Maldro Gongkar’s cultural heritage, this route is a deep dive into the region’s rich traditions and customs.

Intangible Cultural Heritage of Maldro Gongkar

Puduiba Xuanwu Dance (2008)

  • National Recognition: This dance form, blending traditional Tibetan folk dances, showcases Maldro Gongkar’s cultural diversity and artistic expression and received national recognition in 2008.

Drigung Embroidered Thangka

  • Origin and Evolution: Trilie Dorje initiated this embroidery technique in 1880, and it has since been perfected over five generations.
  • Distinctive Craftsmanship: Celebrated for intricate hand embroidery, Drigung thangkas are renowned for their three-dimensional effects, bringing traditional Tibetan art to life.

Cultural Heritage Projects

  • Inclusions: Projects include Drigung Tibetan Medicine, Drigung Tibetan Incense Making Techniques, Milareba Gurlu (Taoist Song), and Jiama Xieqin.
  • Preservation and Promotion: These initiatives play a crucial role in preserving and promoting Maldro Gongkar County’s unique traditional practices and knowledge.

Topography and Climate of Maldro Gongkar County

The Landscape of Maldro Gongkar County

  • Scenic Location: Maldro Gongkar County, situated in the middle and upper reaches of the Lhasa River and adjacent to Mira Mountain, forms a part of the Lhasa Valley Plain.
  • Diverse Topography: The county features a picturesque landscape of alternating mountains and rivers, surrounded by fertile valleys and extensive grasslands.

Climate Characteristics

  • Unique Climate: Maldro Gongkar experiences a plateau temperate zone semi-arid monsoon climate, characterized by alpine dryness, thin air, and strong winds.
  • Frost-Free Period: The region enjoys a 90-day annual frost-free period.
  • Sunshine and Precipitation: The county receives about 2813 hours of sunshine annually and an average annual precipitation of 520mm.
  • Average Temperature: The annual average temperature is around 5.4℃.
  • Prone to Natural Disasters: The area is susceptible to droughts, frosts, hail, snowstorms, and floods.

Specialty Products of Maldro Gongkar

  • Agricultural and Pastoral Economy: Maldro Gongkar excels in cultivating crops and raising livestock, particularly yaks and sheep.
  • Diverse Products: The county is known for highland barley wine, medicinal products like musk and cordyceps, and exquisite gold and silver craftsmanship.
  • Famous for Drigung Tibetan Incense: This incense, made following the “Seven Branches Method,” combines natural spices and medicinal ingredients, offering various health benefits.

Tips on Drigung Tibetan Incense

  • Cultural Significance: As part of the intangible cultural heritage, Drigung Tibetan Incense is made from plant materials native to the plateau, adhering to traditional methods and formulations.

Tourism Transportation in Maldro Gongkar County

Overview of Transportation Infrastructure

Maldro Gongkar County is well-connected through an extensive road transportation network, making it easily accessible for tourists. The county is traversed by the Lalin High-grade Highway, a major thoroughfare that enhances connectivity within the region. Additionally, the Sichuan-Tibet Highway serves as the primary route, branching out to various villages in the east, west, and north, thus integrating the county with broader regional networks.

Road Network and Mileage

As of 2021, Maldro Gongkar County has achieved significant milestones in road development. The total mileage of maintained rural roads in the county is an impressive 690.281 kilometres. This network includes:

  • County Roads: Spanning a significant distance, these roads form the backbone of the county’s transportation system.
  • Village Roads: Covering 67.281 kilometres, these roads facilitate direct access to numerous villages within the county.
  • Rural Roads: With a length of 30.593 kilometres, these roads play a crucial role in connecting remote rural areas.
  • Dedicated Roads: Measuring 231.547 kilometres, these are specialized roads designed to cater to specific transportation needs.

Travel Tips

  1. Accommodation Options: Visitors to Maldro Gongkar County have a variety of accommodation options, ranging from hotels and hostels to guest houses in the county. These facilities cater to different budgets and preferences, ensuring comfortable stays for travellers.
  2. Accessibility to Lhasa: The county seat is conveniently located just 73 kilometres away from Lhasa, connected by a smooth asphalt road. This proximity to Lhasa makes Maldro Gongkar an ideal destination for travellers looking to explore both the city and the county.
  3. Rural Passenger Lines: The county boasts a fully covered rural passenger line network, ensuring that even the most remote areas are accessible.
  4. Road Quality: The smoothness rate of rural roads in Maldro Gongkar County is 100%, reflecting the high standard of road maintenance and infrastructure development in the region.

Discovering the Charm of Maldro Gongkar County’s Attractions

Gyama Trikhang: An Ancient Gem in Maldro Gongkar County

Setting and Scenery of Gyama Trikhang

Nestled in the Gyama Valley of Jiama Township, Maldro Gongkar County, Gyama Trikhang (rgya-ma-khri-khang) is a site rich with historical resonance. The Gyama Valley (rgyal-ma-lung), meaning “one of the richest places in a hundred” in Tibetan, is an expansive valley that stretches 20 kilometres in length and 6 kilometres across at its widest. It sits at an altitude of around 4000 meters. The valley is characterized by its gentle mountains and is home to 27 villages. Over 8000 acres of meticulously arranged cultivated land add to its charm. Gyama Valley was once a vital passageway linking the Lhasa Valley to Shannan.

Historical Backdrop

During the Tubo Dynasty, Gyama Trikhang played a pivotal role as a central site for significant political and military meetings among the ministers of the Tubo royal family. In the 6th century, Tsenpo Namri Songtsen of Zampunang day (gnam-ri-srong-btsan) conquered Gyama, a region previously under Supi’s control, and established the Mingyur Ling Palace, also known as “Gyama Palace.”

Tsenpo Namri Songtsen, regarded as the founder of the Tibetan dynasty (617—650), was born in this historic setting. This era also witnessed the construction of several other palaces, including Duiga. Today, visitors can still see remnants of these palaces’ walls and the ancient alleyways that once ran through them. Additionally, three white pagodas mark the former residence of Tsenpo Namri Songtsen, adding to the historical significance of Gyama Trikhang.

Tourist Development and Points of Interest

The development of the “Gyama Valley Tourist Scenic Area,” includes Tsenpo Namri Songtsen’s Birthplace Memorial Hall, Ancient City Wall, Holy Spring, and Lakhang. The memorial hall, encompassing 4000 square meters, presents exhibitions depicting the rise of the Yalong tribe, the unification of the plateau, and the historical interactions between Tang and Tibet. Close by is the “Chenguo Spring,” a site of childhood significance to Tsenpo Namri Songtsen and regarded as sacred by many.

Gyama Trikhang Village is celebrated for its ethnic handicrafts, including Tibetan opera masks and traditional leather bags, among other culturally significant items.

Accessibility and Acknowledgments

Gyama Trikhang is situated 73 kilometres from Lhasa, accessible by car or minibus from the Lhasa Eastern Suburb Passenger Terminal. Gyama Township boasts Tibet’s inaugural ancient weapons museum, spanning 18 acres with a main exhibit area of 1500 square meters, offering a glimpse into the region’s historical and cultural depths.

Horkhang Manor: A Historical and Cultural Gem in Mozhu Gongka County

Overview of Horkhang Manor (Nor-khang Manor)

  • Location: Nestled in the Gyama Scenic Area of Mozhu Gongka County, Horkhang Manor (Nor-khang-gzhis-ka) is steeped in rich history and culture.
  • Background: The Tibetan name for Mongols, “Hor” (nor), is reflected in the name “Nor-khang.” The Horkhang family established their home in Trikhang Village, Gyama Township about 200 years ago. Trikhang, meaning “ten thousand” in Chinese, is also known as “Wanhufu,” indicating a place where leaders of ten thousand households resided.
  • Manor Features: Covering an expanse of 75 acres, Horkhang Manor encompasses the Horkhang family’s residential quarters, a family temple, and the remains of significant city walls and towers, now largely reduced to ruins by the elements.

Rabgye Ling Temple in Horkhang Manor

  • Historical Importance: Rabgye Ling Temple, part of Horkhang Manor, is a Gelug sect nunnery temple with a storied past dating back to 1206, making it over 800 years old.
  • Temple Highlights: Within the main hall stands a statue of the temple’s founder, Drogon Sangyeong. Nearby is a notable stone bearing two sets of animal footprints: those of Drogon Sangyeong’s black goat and an ox.
  • Architectural Marvel: The manor’s most striking feature is its tall white pagoda, believed to be a spiritual monument for Drogon Sangyeong. Its distinctive design, resembling a white yurt, marks it as a prominent architectural element in the manor.

Visiting Tips for Horkhang Manor

  1. Getting There from Lhasa: The manor is accessible via a 60-kilometer journey on the 318 national highway towards Linzhi from downtown Lhasa. Visitors can also opt for a shuttle bus from Lhasa Dongjiao Passenger Terminal.
  2. Modern-Day Appeal: While Horkhang Manor has evolved from its historically bustling status, it has transformed into an enchanting tourist attraction, blending its historical allure with modern amenities such as exhibition halls, restaurants, and hotels.
  3. Cultural Experience: Guests at Horkhang Manor can immerse themselves in Tibetan culture, enjoying traditional opera at the Horkhang Family Ancient Stage and participating in the local Fruit Festival. The manor also offers an area dedicated to the exhibition and hands-on experience of crafting Tibetan handicrafts like Thangka, Tibetan incense, and Tsa Tsa, allowing visitors to engage in and appreciate the artistry of traditional Tibetan crafts.

Sibugou Nature Reserve: A Haven for Wildlife and Natural Beauty

Overview of Sibugou Nature Reserve

  • Establishment: The Sibugou Nature Reserve was established in 1996, marking a significant step towards environmental conservation.
  • Location: Situated in Zhaxigang Township, Mozhugongka County, the reserve is approximately 25 kilometers from the county seat.
  • Unique Climate and Biodiversity: It boasts a unique climate and a diverse range of vegetation, providing a rich habitat for various wildlife species.

Wildlife in Sibugou Nature Reserve

  • Rich Fauna: The reserve is home to an impressive array of wild animals, including wild yaks, Tibetan antelopes, Tibetan pheasants, white-lipped deer, red deer, horse bears (Tibetan brown bears), wild goats, blue sheep, and more.
  • Famous Inhabitants: Among these, the horse bear, also known as the Tibetan brown bear or “blue bear,” is a notable resident. These bears have strong bodies, measuring approximately 1.8 to 2.1 meters in length, with a shoulder width of about 1 meter and can weigh up to 400 kilograms.

Panchen Ranch within Sibugou Nature Reserve

  • Historical Significance: The large Panchen Ranch in the reserve was historically managed by Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tsang.
  • Renowned Products: This ranch has a long-standing reputation for producing the finest butter, historically used by the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama. Additionally, the “Sibu yak meat” from this area is renowned for its high quality.

Observing the Tibetan Brown Bear

  • Physical Characteristics: The Tibetan brown bear has a distinct appearance with raised shoulders and back, a large and round head, a protruding snout, unique white fur on the neck and a white crescent-shaped spot on the chest.
  • Habitat and Diet: These bears primarily inhabit mountainous forest zones at altitudes of 4500 to 5000 meters. They have a varied diet, including pikas, rabbits, marmots, undecayed animal carcasses, grass, buds, berries, pine nuts, oak seeds, and honey.
  • Behaviour and Lifespan: Capable of running over 50 kilometres per hour, they generally lead solitary lives and hibernate during the winter. They give birth to 1 or 2 cubs during hibernation. The cubs reach sexual maturity at 4 to 5 years old, and the bears have a lifespan of about 30 years.
  • Conservation Status: The Tibetan brown bear is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts in regions like Sibugou Nature Reserve.

Tips for Visitors

Visitors to Sibugou Nature Reserve can enjoy a rich cultural and natural experience. Observing the diverse wildlife, especially the Tibetan brown bear, offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature. The reserve’s serene environment, coupled with the historical significance of Panchen Ranch, makes it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Langjielin Seabuckthorn Nature Reserve: A Lush Haven in Mozhu Gongka County

Overview of Langjielin Seabuckthorn Nature Reserve

  • Location: Stretching from the Maqu River to Gongka Town in Mozhu Gongka County, the Langjielin Seabuckthorn Nature Reserve is a pristine ecological area.
  • Establishment: Officially designated as a Lhasa Municipal Nature Reserve in 2007, the reserve focuses on the conservation of the robustly growing seabuckthorn and various shrubs.
  • Ecological Importance: Encompassing a 40 square kilometer seabuckthorn forest along the Maqu River, the reserve serves as a crucial wintering habitat for bar-headed geese, migratory birds, and is also a sanctuary for wild animals like hares.

Observing Sea Buckthorn

  • Plant Characteristics: Sea buckthorn is a deciduous shrub, typically reaching up to 5 meters in height, though some can grow as tall as 18 meters. It is noted for its numerous thorns and robust nature.
  • Adaptability: Exceptionally resilient, sea buckthorn thrives in diverse conditions, showing remarkable resistance to drought, poor soil, extreme temperatures, and wind-swept environments.
  • Blooming and Fruiting: The plant flowers from April to May, displaying yellow blooms, while its fruiting period lasts from June to October. The fruits are spherical, orange or red, and rich in nutrients.

Medicinal and Edible Uses of Sea Buckthorn

  • Nutritional Value: Sea buckthorn, especially its fruit, is a powerhouse of nutrients and biologically active substances, making it useful in various fields including food, medicine, light industry, aerospace, agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries.
  • Health Benefits: Warm in nature and sour in taste, sea buckthorn aids in blood circulation, phlegm resolution, hydration, and diarrhoea relief. It treats ailments including lung abscess, cough, indigestion, and high fever.
  • Modern Medical Research: Studies have shown that sea buckthorn can lower cholesterol, relieve angina, and prevent or treat conditions like coronary atherosclerotic heart disease, malignant tumors, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, and skin damage, among others.

Tips for Visitors

Visitors to Langjielin Seabuckthorn Nature Reserve can immerse themselves in the lush landscapes and observe the diverse wildlife that the reserve supports. The seabuckthorn forest not only offers a stunning natural spectacle but also serves as an educational site about the plant’s ecological and medicinal importance. The reserve is a testament to the balance between conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources.

Sijin Lhatso: A Sacred Lake in Mozhu Gongka County

Sijin Lhatso (Seqing Lhatso): A Sacred Tibetan Lake

Location and Spiritual Significance

Sijin Lhatso, also known as “Seqing Lhatso,” which translates to “God of Wealth Dragon King Lake” in Tibetan, is located in the southeast of Riduo Township, within Mozhu Gongka County. This revered lake is on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway (318 National Highway). It serves as an annual pilgrimage site for monks from major Tibetan sects, who come here to worship and honour its spiritual essence.

The Legend of the Wealthy Green Dragon King

According to local legends, Sijin Lhatso is the dwelling of a prosperous Green Dragon King, famed for spreading wealth in the form of gold and silver treasures around the lake. This mythical figure is also credited with enriching the surrounding landscape with a diverse array of medicinal plants, trees, vibrant mountain flowers, and various animals, adding to the lake’s mystical allure.

Unique Features and Landmarks of Sijin Lhatso

  • Snake Tongue Lawn: At the heart of Sijin Lhatso have spot called “Snake Tongue Lawn. It is a distinctive area directly above the Dragon King’s palace. Visitors come to this spot for worship and receive the Dragon King’s blessings and endless prosperity.
  • Majestic Surrounding Terrain: The terrain encircling Sijin Lhatso forms a cornucopia-like shape, with interconnected mountains contributing to its grandeur. Notable features include the Membrane Mountain to the southeast, which resembles the membrane of a living Buddha, a southward mandala-shaped area designated for worship, and a formation akin to an elephant throne in the west.
  • Zhongba Cave: Behind the lake is the Zhongba Cave. It is known for being a site of meditation and spiritual practice for Master Padmasambhava, along with numerous historical retreats.

Cultural Significance and Practices Around Sijin Lhatso

  • Symbolic Small Lakes: Encircling Sijin Lhatso are various small lakes, each symbolizing different spiritual elements, such as the Five Flying Heavens, the Six Interests, and representations of the three parents.
  • Prayer Flags and Mani Stones: The lake’s perimeter is adorned with vibrant prayer flags and stacks of Mani stones. During special periods like “Saga Dawa” and “June 4th,” worshippers press banknotes under these stones and cast offerings like turquoise, red coral, and even gold rings into the lake, seeking the blessings of the God of Wealth.

Legendary Background

  • Tubo Tsenpo Chisong Detsen and Master Padmasambhava: According to legend, after Tsenpo Chisong Detsen built the Samye Temple and needed gold for the deities, Master Padmasambhava directed him to seek help from the Black Bamboo Blue Dragon King. A subsequent encounter with a poisonous snake led to the creation of the “Snake Tongue Lawn” and the discovery of gold coins in the lake.

Tourist Tips for Visiting Sijin Lhatso

  1. Access and Travel: Seqing Lhatso is approximately 76 kilometers from Mozhugongka County and 145 kilometers from Lhasa. Visitors can make a day trip, with clear signposts guiding the way from Mila Pass.
  2. Picnicking and Camping: Tourists can bring food and camping gear for a picnic by the lake and an overnight stay. Should be Cautious of the presence of wild animals, and group travel is recommended.
  3. Bicycle Trips and Walking: For those cycling from Lhasa, sufficient food should be prepared for the 2-day journey. Shuttle buses go to the entrance of the lake, but walking is required to reach the actual site.
  4. Respecting the Sacred Site: Visitors seeking blessings should maintain quiet and respect at the lake. Offering money under Mani stones is a common practice to seek the Dragon King’s blessings for good fortune.

Ridok Hot Spring: A Tranquil and Therapeutic Oasis in Mozhu Gongka County

Location and Characteristics

  • Ridok Hot Spring, nestled alongside the Sichuan-Tibet Highway in Riduo Township, Mozhu Gongka County, lies about 280 kilometers east of Linzhi.
  • Sacred Setting: Revered as the “Holy Spring,” Ridok Hot Spring will an outflow from the mystical in Buddhism, making it a site of great spiritual significance.
  • Geothermal Features: The hot spring spans 1.75 square kilometers and boasts an underground thermal storage temperature reaching 197.5℃.

Healing and Medicinal Benefits

  • Medical Accreditation: In May 2002, the hot spring’s self-overflowing water was certified by the Department of Land and Resources of the Autonomous Region as meeting the national GB13727-92 standard for medical hot mineral water, classified as “fluorine borosilicate arsenic lithium composite medical hot mineral water.”
  • Cultural Relevance: As per “The Five Relics,” an ancient Tibetan Buddhist scripture, Master Padmasambhava prophesied that bathing in the hot spring could cleanse the soul and treat numerous diseases. Regular use to promote a charitable spirit and emotional well-being.

Composition and Properties

  • Diverse Springs: Ridok Hot Spring comprises various springs symbolizing the eight ancient transformations and the twenty-one Taras (female Bodhisattvas).
  • Rich Mineral Content: The springs, abundant in sulfur, rock ephedra, realgar, and other minerals, offer varied therapeutic effects. They are particularly effective against skin conditions, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases.

Historical and Spiritual Significance

  • Blessed by Spiritual Leaders: Esteemed figures, including Padmasambhava, Tsongkhapa, and Dexiong Nuppa, have blessed the hot spring. Since the sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, it has been a bathing site for Dalai Lamas and eminent monks.
  • Pilgrimage Site: For millennia, Ridok Hot Spring has been a destination for worship, bathing, and drawing water, revered for its spiritual benefits.

Tourist Information

  1. Access and Transportation: Ridok Hot Spring is accessible from Lhasa, with a 123-kilometer drive along the 318 National Highway, taking approximately 2 hours.
  2. Facilities and Accommodations: The nearby Riduo Hot Spring Villa features a medical and health care center, a hot spring hotel with various amenities, and unique dining experiences.
  3. Exploring Riduo Geopark: Visitors can also explore the nearby Riduo Geopark, home to diverse wildlife and rare medicinal plants.

Ridok Hot Spring, with its blend of natural beauty, healing waters, and spiritual legacy, offers a unique and rejuvenating experience, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking tranquility and therapeutic benefits.

Dezhong Hot Spring: A Therapeutic Retreat in Mozhu Gongka County

Location and Natural Setting

  • Nestled in Dezhong Mountain: Dezhong Hot Spring (gter-sgrom-chu-tshan) is close to the Sichuan-Tibet Highway in Riduo Township.
  • Picturesque Surroundings: The hot spring is backed by the majestic Baiyan Yashen Peak and sits at an altitude of 4500 meters above sea level, offering breathtaking views.

Historical and Geothermal Features

  • Long-Standing History: With a history extending over 1400 years, Dezhong Hot Spring is known for its travertine composition and consistently warm water.
  • Temperature and Flow: The spring maintains a constant temperature of about 40℃, varying at different times of the day. It has a significant water inflow rate of 51.8 liters per second and a mineralization degree of 980 mg/L.

Health Benefits and Mineral Composition

  • Mineral Rich Waters: Scientific surveys have identified sulfur, cold water stone, asphalt, coltsfoot, coal, and other beneficial minerals in the hot spring water.
  • Therapeutic Effects: These minerals contribute to the water’s special curative effects, making it effective in treating various ailments such as gastric ulcers, tumors, gonorrhea, and rheumatoid arthritis. Regular bathing promotes overall well-being and treats multiple health issues.

Cultural and Spiritual Significance

  • Divine Endorsement: Ancient Tibetan Buddhist scriptures cite Master Padmasambhava’s prophecies about the hot spring, highlighting its divine nature. Bathing in the spring will cleanse the soul, regulate emotions, and fulfil wishes.

Unique Aspects of Dezhong Hot Spring

  • Presence of Small Snakes: A distinctive feature of Dezhong Hot Spring is the small snakes that inhabit the open-air baths, adding a unique aspect to the bathing experience.
  • Hot Spring Resort: Today, a hot spring resort has been developed around this natural wonder, offering clear, odourless waters and modern amenities.

Tourist Information

  1. Accessibility: The hot spring is located about 140 kilometers from Lhasa and is easily reachable by car or chartered vehicle via the 318 National Highway.
  2. Accommodation: Visitors have the option to stay at the nearby hot spring villa, which includes a medical and health care center and comfortable accommodation options.
  3. Local Experience: The area provides opportunities to connect with local culture, including the practice of communal bathing, and allows for a deeper appreciation of the region’s natural beauty.

Dezhong Hot Spring, with its rich history, healing properties, and stunning natural environment, stands as a unique destination for those seeking tranquility and health benefits amidst the beauty of Mozhu Gongka County.

Mira Mountain Hot Spring: A Natural Wonder in Mozhugongka County

Location and Setting

  • Nestled at the Western Foot of Mira Mountain: Mira Mountain Hot Spring (mi-lha-chu-tshan) is located in Mozhugongka County, close to the Sichuan-Tibet Highway.
  • Picturesque Environment: Situated amidst the stunning landscape of Mira Mountain, the hot spring is a natural marvel, just 30 kilometers away from the bustling areas.

Features of the Hot Spring

  • Diverse Springs: The area around the hot spring boasts both large and small springs, bubbling and forming unique small craters.
  • Therapeutic Properties: Local beliefs hold that bathing in these hot springs can ward off disasters, prevent diseases, and are particularly effective in treating skin conditions.

Development and Facilities

  • Creation of Bathing Pools: To harness the healing properties of the springs, several small pools have been constructed. Water from various springs flows into these pools, creating natural open-air bathing areas.
  • Integration with Nature: Bathing in these pools offers a unique experience where visitors can immerse themselves in the therapeutic waters, feeling a sense of relaxation and unity with the natural surroundings.

Additional Tourist Information

  • Accessibility: The hot spring is located in the Gaze New District, just 2 kilometers from the county seat and about half an hour’s drive from Lhasa city.
  • Gaze Hot Spring: A newly discovered site within the area, Gaze Hot Spring, offers another accessible and inviting option for visitors seeking the therapeutic benefits of hot spring waters.

Mira Mountain Hot Spring stands as a testament to the harmonious blend of nature’s beauty and healing powers. The serene setting, coupled with the therapeutic qualities of the hot springs, makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation in the heart of Mozhugongka County.

Dabu Astronomical Observatory: A Blend of Science and Tradition in Mozhugongka County

Historical Significance and Restoration

  • Centuries-Old Observatory: Dabu Astronomical Observatory, located in Dabu Village, Tangjia Township, Mozhugongka County, boasts a rich history spanning over 300 years.
  • Restoration Efforts: In August 2009, the county government invested 50 million yuan in the protective restoration of the observatory. The project preserved its original architectural style and added a marble protective circle and the original text of the Zodiac and Twenty-Seven Constellations around the observation stone.

Unique Astronomical Features

  • Astronomical Observation: The observatory offers a range of observation activities, including tracking sky clouds, tree growth, lake freezing conditions, wind changes, and sunlight.
  • Significance for Agriculture: Primarily, the Dabu Astronomical Calendar Station is vital for determining irrigation times for winter sowing wheat in central and southern Tibet, particularly in Dabu and Lhasa areas.

Observatory Structure

  • Measuring Hole Building and Photometric Stone: The observatory consists of two main parts: the measuring hole building and the photometric stone. The west wall of the measuring hole building aligns from 165 degrees to 345 degrees north-south. The distance from the photometric stone to the photometric hole on the west wall is 29 meters, indicating the time for spring plowing and irrigation when sunlight aligns with them.

Cultural Recognition

  • Tibetan Astronomy and Calendar: Recognized as part of the second batch of national intangible cultural heritage, Tibetan astronomy and calendar reflect the community’s deep connection with celestial phenomena and their practical applications in daily life.

Dabu Astronomical Observatory and Dabu Temple

  • Cultural and Spiritual Nexus: Above the Dabu Astronomical Calendar Platform stands Dabu Temple, believed to have given the observatory its name. The temple is at an altitude of 3850 meters. Rinchen Nyingpo, a disciple of Venerable Atisha built it in 1044.

Tourist Information

  1. Accessibility: Dabu Astronomical Observatory is more than 140 kilometers from Lhasa and can be accessed by car or charter.
  2. Dabu Temple’s Artifacts: The temple houses unique Buddha statues, including a gilt bronze statue of Sakyamuni and other significant deities, along with various Buddhist scriptures.
  3. Visitor Experience: The observatory offers an immersive experience, blending astronomical science with traditional Tibetan practices and providing a unique insight into the region’s historical and cultural landscape.

Dabu Astronomical Observatory stands as a testament to the rich astronomical heritage of Tibet, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the ancient practices that have shaped agricultural and spiritual life in the region.

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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