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Gyama Trikhang: Birthplace of Greatest King Songtsen Gampo

Location and Landscape

Gyama Trikhang (rgya-ma-khri-khang), situated in Gyama Valley within Jiama Township in Maldro Gongkar County, is a location of great historical significance. The Gyama Valley (rgyal-ma-lung), translating to “one of the richest places in a hundred” in Tibetan, is an expansive and picturesque valley that extends north-south. The valley spans about 20 kilometres in length and reaches up to 6 kilometres at its broadest point. Situated at an altitude of around 4000 meters, the valley is characterized by its gently sloping mountains on either side.

Cultural and Historical Significance

The landscape at the foot of these mountains is dotted with 27 villages, interspersed with over 8000 acres of meticulously arranged cultivated land, stretching into the valley in an orderly fashion. Historically, Gyama Valley played a pivotal role as a key thoroughfare connecting the Lhasa Valley and Shannan. This route provided direct access over the mountains to significant locations like Samye and Nedong and the Yalong tribe’s headquarters.

Gyama Trikhang’s strategic location and rich cultural history make it a fascinating destination for those interested in the historical and cultural journey of Tibet. The serene beauty of the valley, combined with its historical importance, offers a unique glimpse into the past, making it a must-visit site in Maldro Gongkar County.

Historical Significance of Gyama Trikhang in the Tubo Dynasty


Epicenter of the Tubo Dynasty’s Power

Gyama Trikhang, located in Maldro Gongkar County, played a pivotal role during the Tubo Dynasty. It was a central hub for political activities, including alliances, conquests, and annexations orchestrated by the ministers of the Tubo royal family. This historical significance imbues Gyama Trikhang with a rich and deep cultural heritage.

The Conquests of Tsenpo Namri Songtsen

In the 6th century AD, Tsenpo Namri Songtsen (gnam-ri-srong-btsan) of Zampunang day led his troops across the snowy mountains of North Vietnam, extending his dominion to include Gyama and other regions that were part of Supi at the time. In Gyama, he established the Mingyur Ling Palace, also known as “Gyama Palace” or “Gyama Trikang” in Tibetan.

Songtsen gampo bhelsa trsitsun gyalsa gongjo Songtsen gampo bhelsa trsitsun gyalsa gongjo

Birthplace of Songtsen Gampo

Gyama Trikhang is notably celebrated as the birthplace of Songtsen Gampo (srong-btsan-sgam-po, 617—650), the esteemed founder of the Tibetan dynasty. His birth at this site imbues it with immense historical and cultural significance. In conjunction with the establishment of Gyama Palace, other notable palaces like Duiga were also constructed in this era, further highlighting the area’s importance in Tibetan history.

Architectural Remnants and Cultural Legacy

Gyama Trikhang, constructed against the backdrop of the mountain, still bears the remnants of its glorious past. The remains of the palace walls and the vestiges of ancient alleys provide a tangible connection to this historical era. Additionally, three white pagodas, erected by later generations, stand as a testament to the former residence of Songtsen Gampo, marking the site with historical reverence.

Gyama Trikhang’s rich history as part of the Tubo Dynasty, its connection to significant figures like Tsenpo Namri Songtsen and Songtsen Gampo, and the remaining architectural elements make it a site of immense historical and cultural significance in Maldro Gongkar County. Visitors to this site can experience a profound sense of the ancient Tibetan empire’s legacy, making it a crucial destination for understanding Tibet’s rich historical tapestry.

The Historical Legacy of Gyama Valley and Gyama Trikhang

The Tibetan King’s Hall on the Mountainside

Perched on the mountainside opposite Gyama Valley lies a small but significant temple known as the “Tibetan King’s Hall.” This temple is a historical treasure, housing statues of notable figures such as Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wencheng, and a Tibetan princess. It symbolizes the intersection of political and cultural histories, where the head of the Jiama household, under the Dishe Zangpa regime, met with the troops of Gushi Khan, brought in by the Gelug sect. These meetings mark a significant chapter in Tibetan history.

Ancient Architectural Ruins

The area around the Tibetan King’s Hall is rich with the ruins of ancient fortresses and castles dating back to the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. The remnants of these structures, with countless archery holes in the city walls and horse traps outside the city gates, evoke images of an ancient battlefield, echoing with the sounds of historical conflicts.

The Jiama Ten Thousand Households

In the 17th century, the Jiama Ten Thousand Households, part of the 130,000 households in Weizang established by the Yuan Dynasty, were stationed here. These households played a significant role in the regional administration and culture during that period.

The Village of Chikhang

The village of Trikhang, once densely populated with farmhouses, has a rich history of its own. It was home to the estate of the Tibetan noble Horkhang-gsar (hor-khang-gsar) and was also the residence of the late Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme (nga-phod-ngag-dbang-vjins-med), for many years. Although now in ruins, the tall and thick broken walls of Chikhang still stand as silent witnesses to its former grandeur and significance.

Gyama Valley and Gyama Trikhang, with their rich tapestry of historical sites, ruins, and cultural landmarks, offer a vivid window into Tibet’s past. From the Tibetan King’s Hall to the remnants of ancient fortresses and the historical significance of the Jiama Ten Thousand Households, these sites collectively narrate a story of political intrigue, cultural fusion, and historical transformations that have shaped the region. Visitors to these sites can immerse themselves in the echoes of a bygone era, gaining insights into the complex and fascinating history of Tibet.

Tourist Insights: Gyama Trikhang and Surrounding Attractions

Songtsen Hometown Investment Project

This Project has invested over 35 million yuan to develop the Jiamagou Tourist Scenic Area. This significant investment aims to celebrate the new hometown of Songtsen Gampo and enhance the area’s tourist appeal.

The developed area now features several key attractions, including Songtsan Gampo’s Birthplace Memorial Hall, the Ancient City Wall, Songtsan Holy Spring, and Songtsan Lakhang. In addition, significant restoration work has revitalized Gyama Trikhang, further adding to the site’s historical and cultural richness.

The Layout and Features of the Memorial Hall

The Memorial Hall, sprawling over 4000 square meters, consists of four major sections with 12 exhibition halls. These halls provide a comprehensive overview of the history of the Yalong tribe, the unification of the Tibetan plateau, legislative reforms, and the story of Tang-Tibet reconciliation, offering visitors a deep dive into the region’s rich heritage.

2. Chenguo Spring: A Sacred Site Near Gyama Trikhang

Location and Historical Importance

The Chenguo Spring, situated near Gyama Trikhang, holds significant historical and spiritual importance. This spring is deeply revered, believed to have been a favorite retreat for Songtsen Gampo during his childhood.

Spiritual and Cultural Significance

The spring has earned the title of “sacred water” due to a legend that its waters inspired the prophecy for building the Red Palace on the Red Mountain in Lhasa. Its connection to such a pivotal moment in Tibetan history enhances its sacredness.

A Popular Pilgrimage Destination

Chenguo Spring is a cherished destination for pilgrims and respected living Buddhas. Many consider it auspicious to wash their faces and drink the spring’s waters, seeking blessings and spiritual fulfillment.

3. Ethnic Handicrafts of Gyama Trikhang Village

Unique Craftsmanship and Products

Gyama Trikhang Village is renowned for its distinctive ethnic handicrafts. The local artisans create a variety of products including leather Tibetan opera masks, traditional Tibetan leather bags, incense bags, car card mats, and a range of household items.

Extensive Range of Products

The village boasts a diverse array of over 20 different products, organized into five major categories. This extensive range showcases the rich cultural heritage and artistic skills of the local community.

Broad Distribution and Customization

These unique handicrafts are sold not only in local areas like Lhasa, Nyingchi, Shannan, and Shigatse but also in major Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. Visitors to the village also have the opportunity to commission personalized, custom-made products, adding a personal touch to their souvenirs.

4. Accessibility to Gyama Trikhang

  • Distance from Lhasa: Gyama Trikhang is conveniently located 73 kilometres from Lhasa. Visitors can either charter a car, drive from Lhasa, or take a minibus from the Lhasa Eastern Suburb Passenger Terminal.
  • Adventure to Samye Temple: For those trekking to Samye Temple, it’s advisable to prepare camping equipment and engage a local guide for the journey.

5. Recognition as a Traditional Chinese Village

  • National Recognition: Gyama Trikhang Village has been officially recognized as a traditional Chinese village by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Finance.
  • Broader List: This recognition is part of a larger initiative that includes other traditional villages in Tibet, such as Cuogao Village in Gongbojiangda, Shangyanjing Village in Mangkang, and others in Chamdo and Shigatse.

6. The First Ancient Weapons Museum in Tibet

  • Location: Situated in Gyama Township, this museum is the first of its kind in Tibet.
  • Size and Structure: Covering 18 acres, the museum’s main building spans 1500 square meters, divided into two floors. The exhibition hall on the first floor occupies 950 square meters.
  • Cultural and Historical Significance: The museum offers a unique insight into the region’s history, particularly its ancient weaponry, adding another dimension to the rich cultural tapestry of Gyama Trikhang and its surroundings.

Gyama Trikhang and the Jiamagou Tourist Scenic Area offer a comprehensive experience for visitors, combining historical depth, cultural significance, and unique local crafts. From the sacred Chenguo Spring to the innovative ancient weapons museum, these attractions provide a multifaceted view into the rich heritage of Tibet.

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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