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Gyantse Dzong Castle

Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China

About Gyantse Dzong Castle

Gyantse Dzong or Gyantse Fortress is one of the best preserved dzongs in Tibet, perched high above the town of Gyantse on a huge spur of grey brown rock.

Constructed around 1390, the castle we see today guarded the southern approaches to the Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa. The original fortress, known as Gyel-khar-tse was attributed to Pelkhor-tsen, son of the anti-Buddhist king Langdharma, who probably reigned from 838 to 841 CE. The present walls were supposedly built in 1268, after the rise in power of the Sakyapa sect.

A large palace was built in 1365 by a local prince, Phakpa Pelzangpo (1318–1370), who had found favour campaigning for the Sakyapas in the south. He also brought a famous Buddhist teacher, Buton Rinchendrub of Zhalu, to live in a temple there.

The castle has gradually been restored, and “still dominates the town and surrounding plains as it always did.” There is now a small museum there outlining the excesses of the Younghusband expedition from the Chinese perspective.