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Toulung Dechen (Duilongdeqing) District: A Historical and Cultural Overview

Geographic Coordinates and Location

Doilung Dechen: A Geographical Overview

The Doilung Dechen District positions itself geographically between the latitudes of 30.1 to 29.5 degrees north and the longitude of 91.2 degrees east. This places it in a strategically significant location within Tibet.

Regional Placement in Tibet Located in south-central Tibet, Doilung Dechen lies in the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River. The district occupies the southern end of the Lhasa River and spans both sides of the Duilong River, marking it as an area of important geographical interest.

Neighboring Areas Doilung Dechen is bordered by several key regions. To the east, it neighbours Linzhou County and Lhasa City, creating a vital junction in the area. To the south, it borders Qushui County, and to the west and north, it meets Damxung County. This strategic positioning connects Doilung Dechen with a diverse array of cultural and geographical landscapes in Tibet.

Historical Significance and Names of Doilung Dechen

Tibetan Meaning: A Blend of Geography and Serenity

The name “Doilung” (སྟོད་ལུང་བདེ་ཆེན་ཆུས།)(堆龙德庆区) in Tibetan translates to “upper valley,” while “Dechen” (bde-chen) means “bliss.” Combined, these terms eloquently signify “the place of bliss in the upper valley,” capturing both the geographical aspect and the serene ambience of the region. Before liberation of Tibet, it had three counties, namely Dongkar County, Liuwu County, Dechen Tsal Village, later three counties were merged and collectively referred to as Duilong Dechen County.

Evolution Through History: Names and Jurisdiction

Throughout history, various names have identified Doilung Dechen. The Sakya Dynasty referred to it as “Dulong,” and it has carried different names across various eras.

Tracing its roots back to ancient times, Doilung Dechen was historically the territory of the Subi tribe. Over the centuries, it fell under different jurisdictions, being a part of the Tubo Empire and later transitioning through the Sakya, Tsangpa and Ganden Phodrang Dynasties. Each of these periods contributed to the rich tapestry of the region’s history, shaping Doilung Dechen into a place of significant cultural and historical importance in Tibet.

Historically, Doilung Dechen is significant for being the birthplace of Sonam Gyatso, the third Dalai Lama, who established virtue and later received the title of the Dalai Lama. It is a county rich in history and is also noted as the birthplace of Duilong Mong Lady, who gave birth only son of the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.

Medically significant, Yuthok Yonten Gonpo, the founder of Tibetan medical scriptures, was born in Dulong. Being the birthplace of many Ganden Tripa, marked it as a pivotal figure in the flourishing of Buddhism, particularly within the Gelugpa tradition.

Administrative and Demographic Overview of Doilung Dechen District

From County to District: A Historical Transition

Initially established as a county in 1959, Doilung Dechen underwent a significant administrative change, transitioning to a district in October 2015. The district government now operates from Tuanjie Road, located in Dongga Town.

Geographical Expanse and Governance

Covering an area of 2704.25 square kilometres, Doilung Dechen District administers a diverse region comprising 2 public streets, 4 towns, and 1 township. This extensive jurisdiction underscores the district’s comprehensive administrative responsibilities.

Population Insights

As of November 2020, Doilung Dechen boasted a permanent population of 91,065, reflecting its status as a vibrant and growing community. Notably, the district achieved a significant milestone by exiting the list of poverty-stricken counties in October 2018, marking an important step in its developmental journey.

Focus on Education

In April 2022, Doilung Dechen showcased its commitment to education by earning the distinction of being the first district selected to create high-quality and balanced compulsory education. This recognition underscores the district’s dedication to educational excellence and its leadership role in providing equitable education opportunities to its residents.

Travel and Cultural Insights into Doilung Dechen District

Juemulong Tibetan Opera: A Cultural Gem

  • Historical Roots: Originating in Juemulong Village, the Juemulong Tibetan Opera stands as a prestigious and widely beloved art form among the local populace.
  • Artistic Evolution: The opera has evolved through the talents of artists like Tang Sang, Mima Qiangcun, and Tashi Dundup. Notable actors such as Amalaba and Amma Tsering have emerged from this tradition.
  • National Recognition: In 2007, Juemulong Tibetan Opera was honored by being included in the national intangible cultural heritage list, underscoring its cultural significance.

Other Cultural Heritage Highlights

  • Doilung Dechen is home to several autonomous region-level intangible cultural heritage projects, enriching the district’s cultural landscape. These include:
    • Chubujing Incense Making: A traditional craft that adds to the district’s unique cultural identity.
    • Duilung Spring Sowing Customs: These customs reflect the agricultural heritage and practices of the region.
    • Gurung Tsampa Making Techniques: A culinary tradition, showcasing the district’s rich gastronomic heritage.

Doilung Dechen: A Blend of History, Culture, and Natural Beauty

Doilung Dechen (Duilongdeqing) District is not just a place of scenic beauty but also a hub of rich history and vibrant cultural heritage. The district’s strategic location adds to its historical significance, while its cultural heritage, including the famous Juemulong Tibetan Opera, paints a picture of a region deeply rooted in tradition and artistic expression. Visitors to Doilung Dechen can expect a journey filled with cultural richness and historical depth, set against the backdrop of Tibet’s stunning natural landscapes.

chamugou tsurphu Hiking Tour Route
Chamugou tsurphu Hiking Tour Route

Doilungdeqing District: A Study in Topography and Climate

Topographical Features of Doilungdeqing District

  • Geographical Position: Doilungdeqing District finds its place in the valley of the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River, a significant geographical location in Tibet.
  • Terrain Characteristics: The district is marked by its varied terrain, higher in the west and lower in the east, creating a rich and diverse landscape.
  • Altitude Range: The region experiences a considerable altitude variation, with its highest point soaring to 5500 meters and the lowest point situated at 3640 meters, resulting in a relative height difference of about 1860 meters.
  • Regional Variation:
    • Northwest: This part of the district includes the Duulong River Valley, recognized for its unique vertical climate features, typical of Tibetan plateau valleys.
    • Southeast: Contrasting the northwest, the Lhasa River Valley area in the southeast is characterized by its flat and open terrain, presenting a different aspect of the district’s landscape.

Doilungdeqing District’s distinct topographical features, from high mountain ranges to sprawling river valleys, offer a fascinating glimpse into the varied landscape of this Tibetan region.

Climate Overview of Doilungdeqing District: Understanding Its Unique Environmental Dynamics

Doilungdeqing District, nestled in the Tibetan landscape, exhibits a unique climatic identity. Lying within the plateau temperate semi-arid monsoon climate zone, the district’s weather patterns and environmental conditions present a fascinating study.

Key Climatic Features of Doilungdeqing District

  • Rainfall Patterns: The district experiences its rainfall primarily in a concentrated rainy season, recording an annual precipitation of around 440 mm. This seasonal distribution of rainfall significantly influences the region’s agricultural cycles and ecological balance.
  • Sunshine and Solar Radiation: Doilungdeqing is a region bathed in sunlight, with strong solar radiation prevalent throughout the year. The area boasts approximately 3000 hours of sunshine annually, a factor that plays a critical role in the local climate and way of life.
  • Frost-Free Period: The district has a relatively short frost-free period, lasting about 120 days each year. This brief window is crucial for agricultural activities and shapes the farming practices in the region.
  • Temperature Range: The average annual temperature in Doilungdeqing hovers around 7.5℃, indicative of the generally low temperatures that prevail in the area. These temperatures impact everything from daily living conditions to ecological systems.

Natural Disasters and Their Impact

Doilungdeqing District is not immune to the challenges posed by natural disasters. The region is prone to droughts, frost, hail, snowstorms, and floods. These natural events can have a significant impact on the district’s agriculture and overall ecology, affecting the lives and livelihoods of the residents.

Specialty Products and Agricultural Highlights of Doilungdeqing District

Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Foundations in Doilungdeqing District

  • Agricultural Base: Recognized as the autonomous region’s commercial grain production base since 1983, Doilungdeqing District has established a strong agricultural focus. The district adeptly balances farming with animal husbandry, creating a diverse agricultural environment.
  • Crops: The region is particularly rich in highland barley, wheat, peas, and a variety of other grains, contributing significantly to the district’s agricultural output.
  • Animal Husbandry: Serving as the second pillar industry in Doilungdeqing, animal husbandry primarily revolves around the rearing of dairy cows, sheep, goats, and other livestock, playing a crucial role in the local economy.

Renowned and Specialty Products of the District

  • Traditional and Exotic Products: The district is famous for its production of musk and cordyceps, as well as fritillary, items highly valued in traditional medicine.
  • Natural Resources: In addition to its agricultural products, Doilungdeqing is blessed with abundant natural resources, including coal and zinc. It is also known for its wildlife, such as deer and bears, which contribute to its ecological diversity.
  • The Tibetan Rooster: A special and unique product of the district is the Tibetan rooster, a bird species distinct to the region, adding to the district’s unique agricultural profile.

The combination of a robust agricultural base, diverse crops, and flourishing animal husbandry, along with unique products like the Tibetan rooster and valuable natural resources, marks Doilungdeqing District as an area rich in agricultural diversity and speciality products. These aspects not only define the district’s economic landscape but also contribute to the cultural and ecological tapestry of the region.

Tibetan Horse Pheasant: The Majestic Bird of Doilungdeqing

Unique Characteristics and Habitat

  • Appearance: The Tibetan Horse Pheasant, celebrated for its striking beauty, features impressive dimensions. The rooster typically measures 72 to 81 cm long and weighs between 2500 and 5000 grams.
  • Natural Habitat: These birds thrive in alpine forests, shrublands, and tundra grasslands, comfortably adapting to elevations ranging from 1500 to 5000 meters.
  • Behavioural Traits: The Tibetan Horse Pheasant is often seen moving in small groups. They forage in open forest glades and prefer roosting in trees at night. Their distinctive and loud calls, especially during dawn and dusk, add to the mystique of their presence.

Feeding Habits

The diet of the Tibetan Horse Pheasant primarily consists of plant leaves, buds, fruits, and seeds. They occasionally indulge in insects and other small animal foods, showcasing their versatile feeding habits.

In April 2022, Doilung Dechen demonstrated its commitment to education by becoming the first district selected to establish high-quality and balanced compulsory education. This achievement underscores the district’s dedication to educational excellence and its leadership in offering equitable education opportunities to its residents.

Gurum Tsampa: A Culinary Delight of Doilungdeqing

Gurum tsampa, a distinctive local specialty, testifies to the rich culinary heritage of Doilungdeqing, reflecting the region’s unique flavors and gastronomic traditions. A must-try for visitors and a source of pride for locals, Gurum tsampa intertwines deeply with the cultural fabric of Doilungdeqing. Its preparation and enjoyment offer a taste of the district’s rich and diverse culinary landscape.

Gurum Tsampa: A Traditional Tibetan Delicacy

Origin and Historical Significance

  • Production Area: Gurum Tsampa is a traditional speciality of Gurum Township, located in Doilung Dechen District.
  • Historical Relevance: This delicacy boasts a rich history that spans hundreds of years. It was historically valued as a tribute, presented to the Dalai Lama, Tibetan local government officials, and nobility.

Five-Step Production Process: Crafting Gurum Tsampa

  • Cleaning: The process begins with the thorough cleaning of highland barley.
  • Frying: The barley is scalded with boiling water, placed in a bag, covered for about 20 minutes, and then stir-fried.
  • Peeling: After frying, the barley undergoes a peeling process to remove the husks.
  • Selection: This step involves the meticulous removal of impurities, such as stones, to ensure quality.
  • Water Grinding: The cooled barley is then finely ground into powder using a traditional water mill.

Characteristics of Gurum Tsampa

Gurum Tsampa distinguishes itself with its off-white colour, powdery texture, and uniform appearance. Celebrated for its unique highland barley aroma and subtly sweet taste, it has become a cherished part of Tibetan cuisine.

Gurum Tsampa not only offers a taste of Tibetan tradition but also reflects the rich agricultural heritage of Doilung Dechen District. This delicacy, deeply embedded in the region’s culture and history, continues to be a symbol of Tibetan culinary artistry.

Navigating Doilungdeqing District: A Guide to Tourism Transportation

Doilungdeqing District, a vibrant gateway to the wonders of Tibet, boasts an extensive transportation network, encompassing highways, local roads, and railways, ensuring that tourists can explore its rich cultural and natural attractions with ease.

The Roadways: Connecting the District

  • National Highway 109 (Qinghai-Tibet Highway): This pivotal highway enters the district at the Lubugang Group in Nuolu Village, Deqing Township, and meanders through various towns and villages along the Duilong River Valley. It exits at Liushaheqiao in the southeast, spanning a length of 65.2 km within the district.
  • National Highway 318: Stretching 10.2 km, it connects the Liusha River Bridge in the east to Qushui County in the southwest, serving as a crucial link in the region.
  • Local Roads: The district’s connectivity is further enhanced by county roads such as Duigu Highway, Duinai Highway, and Duiliu Highway, complemented by rural roads including Demen Road, Deqiu Road, Guchu Road, and Naibo Road.
  • Lhasa-Gonggar Airport Expressway: Since its opening in 2011, this expressway has been a key route, starting from Century Avenue in the northeast and terminating at Jiaowu Village, Liuwu Township in the southwest.

Railways: The District’s Lifelines

  • Qinghai-Tibet Railway (Duilung Deqing Section): This railway section, extending 72.5 km, runs from Lubugang Group in Nuolu Village through several towns and villages, reaching Lhasa Railway Station.
  • Lhasa-Shigatse Railway (Lhasa-Shigatse Section): Beginning at Lhasa Station and ending northwest of Jiaowu Village, Liuwu Township, this railway section enhances the region’s accessibility. Additionally, the Lhasa South Railway Station, located in Langjieskang, Liuwu Township, functions primarily as a freight station.

A Warm Reminder for Tourists

Situated merely 12 kilometres from Lhasa, the Doilungdeqing district station is easily accessible. Tourists can choose from a range of transport options, including Lhasa buses, taxis, or personal vehicles, making travel both comfortable and convenient. This well-developed transportation infrastructure is a testament to the district’s commitment to making its cultural and natural treasures accessible to all.

Doilung Dechen District

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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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