Gyirong Valley (skyid-grong-lung), a breathtaking destination in Gyirong County. It spans a remarkable 93 km from Dzongga Town to Rasuwa Village in Gyirong Town. The valley ranges in elevation from 1,800 to 5,380 meters and is shaped like a dumbbell, stretching from north to south.
A Journey Through Nature’s Marvels
At the heart of Gyirong Valley, about 70 kilometers south of the county town, the valley reveals its awe-inspiring beauty. The Malashan Mountain, 20 kilometers north of the county town, forms a striking feature in the Himalayas. The valley presents a striking contrast: the subtropical scenery with warm, humid air from the Indian Ocean to the south, and the cold, high-altitude Tibetan Plateau to the north.
Steeped in Legend and History
According to legend, in the late 8th century, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) passed through Gyirong Valley on his way to Tibet. He stayed here and was so impressed by the scenery that he named it “Gyirong” in praise. The area is renowned for its stunning blue skies and sacred snow-capped peaks. It offers a diverse climate and varying weather patterns within short distances.
A Valley of Four Seasons
Gyirong Valley amazes visitors with its display of all four seasons within a narrow space. Lush green trees and vibrant flowers adorn the valley. Tall pine trees and slender spruce trees add to the valley’s serene beauty. Peaceful villages, embraced by greenery, lie in the shadow of snow-capped mountains.
Unspoiled Natural Beauty
Gyirong Valley remains largely untouched, preserving its pristine natural environment. Visitors often describe it as a hidden paradise. In March, the valley blooms with vibrant rhododendrons. From May to June, the awe-inspiring sight of avalanches can be seen, while from September to October, the surrounding snow-capped peaks create a picturesque landscape.
Gyirong Valley is not just a destination; it’s an experience. It’s a place where untouched natural beauty, rich history, and diverse ecosystems converge, making it an ideal spot for travelers seeking tranquility and adventure in Tibet’s majestic landscape.
Gyirong Valley: A Biodiversity Kingdom in Tibet
Rich Biodiversity of Gyirong Valley
Gyirong Valley, often called a “Kingdom of Biology,” is home to a myriad of rare species. This includes unique trees like the Tibetan longleaf pine and spruce, and over 80 precious medicinal herbs such as gastrodia, fritillaria, and coptis. The valley is also a sanctuary for rare animals like snow leopards, golden leopards, black bears, long-tailed monkeys, rhesus monkeys, deer, blue sheep, peacock pheasants, and Tibetan chickens, creating a vibrant tapestry of wildlife.
Jiang Village Nature Reserve
Located in Gyirong Valley, the Jiang Village Nature Reserve stretches along the riverbanks, covering 34,060 hectares. This reserve is filled with dense forests and towering snow peaks, harboring many rare animals. Agile long-tailed monkeys, musk deer, and sturdy black bears, along with macaques, lynxes, and brown-tailed peacock pheasants, bring life to the tranquil forest. The Tibetan longleaf pine, spruce, and Himalayan yew here are among China’s rarest tree species.
Tamang People: The Youngest Citizens of China in Gyirong Valley
The Tamang people, originally from Nepal, have settled in Gyirong Town, Shigatse, for six to seven generations. They are considered the youngest citizens of China in Gyirong Valley and have been recognized as a branch of the Tibetan ethnicity. Before 2003, the Tamang people, without citizenship, land, or houses, frequently traveled along the China-India and China-Nepal borders. On May 26, 2003, the Chinese government granted them citizenship and established Tamang Village. Today, their population is just over 200. Known as descendants of ancient cavalry, most Tamang people work as blacksmiths, a trade for which they are locally renowned.
Cakuka Battlefield: A Historical Site
About 120 kilometers from Gyirong County Town, at an altitude of 3,450 meters, lies the Cakuka Battlefield. This site was pivotal during the Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong era in the fight against Gurkha invaders. The battlefield consists of a series of well-preserved defensive structures, including ramparts, trenches, and hidden shelters, built along the mountain’s terrain, mainly higher in the north and lower in the south. With its strategic location, guarding the throat of Gyirong Valley leading to Gyirong County, it played a crucial role in the anti-invasion wars. Today, the area is known as “Hero Valley” and “Hero Cliff,” commemorating its historical significance.
In conclusion, Gyirong Valley is not just a scenic destination but a place rich in biodiversity, cultural heritage, and historical importance. Its unique ecosystem, rare wildlife, and historical sites make it a must-visit for nature lovers and history enthusiasts exploring Tibet.
Gyirong Valley: The Enchanting Beauty of Tibet
“Beautiful Gyirong Valley” – A Song of Praise
Tibetan singer Tsewang Dorje has captured the essence of Gyirong Valley in his song “Beautiful Gyirong Valley.” The lyrics, filled with imagery of a thousand years, depict the Tibetan king welcoming his noble and beautiful bride. The song portrays snow-capped mountains offering scarves, traditional Gorshey dances, green cliffs adorned with jade, and birds singing in harmony. It celebrates Gyirong Valley as a beautiful, sacred, magical, and blissful village – a paradise on earth.
Journey to Gyirong Valley
To reach Gyirong Valley, travelers take National Highway 318, diverting at the Shishapangma Base Camp junction. After covering 120 kilometers along the mountain corridor and crossing the Malashan Mountain, Dzongga Town is just 20 kilometers further. From Dzongga, it’s 73 kilometers to Gyirong Town and another 23 kilometers to Rasuwa Village, home to just six households and only 85 kilometers from Nepal’s capital, making it the closest Chinese village to a foreign capital. The journey features a rapid descent from an altitude of 4,300 meters to 1,800 meters.
Kaire Waterfall and Hero Cliff
About 5 kilometers south of the Hero Cliff section, travelers can find the famous Kaire Waterfall on the east side of the road. The waterfall, emerging from a V-shaped notch atop a cliff, plunges into a rocky shallow pool below, creating a thunderous and awe-inspiring scene. Surrounded by verdant mountains and chirping birds, enveloped in a misty spray, the waterfall offers a refreshing and uplifting experience. In winter, the flowing water freezes, transforming the waterfall into an “ice cascade,” a sparkling and fairytale-like spectacle.
Gyirong Valley’s Acclaim
In 2011, Gyirong Valley, along with other Tibetan landmarks like the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, Potala Palace, and Jokhang Temple, was honored as one of “Tibet’s Most Charming Attractions.” Gyirong Valley, with its rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and enchanting attractions like the Kaire Waterfall, stands out as a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the wonders of Tibet.