Gyantse Castle

Gyantse Castle


Location: Gyantse, Xigazê Prefecture Map

Constructed: 1268


Description of Gyantse Castle

Gyantse Castle or Gyantse Fortress or Gyantse Dzong is a medieval citadel situated in Gyantse, Xigazê Prefecture in China. It was constructed in 1268 by a Sakyapa sect (one of many Buddhist schools) in the beginning of the Nyang Qu river. This strategic location guarded a Southern pass of the Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa. The entrance to the compound is on the Eastern side. Current citadel was constructed on a site of an older 9th century fortifications constructed by anti- Buddhist king Langdharma. Its name literally means "the peak of victory". Prince Phakpa Pelzangpo (1318- 1370) erected a Grand Palace Gyantse in 1365 and his son Kungpa Phakpa (1357- 1412) added new fortification walls. Gyantse Castle harbors an "anti- British" museum devoted to British invasion of 1903- 04. Their assault took lives of 1000 Tibetans who defended the citadel. In fact this the citadel gained a title of "hero city" by Chinese government. Gyantse was also attacked by the Chinese troops in 1967 during the Cultural Revolution, but current Communist party prefers to ignore this historic fact.



The dzong of Gyantsé had replaced, around 1365, a castle built at the time of the kings of Yarlung. This castle included the whole of the city within its walls. A large temple (tsglag khang) was to be established nearby in 1390.

The city is called the "heroic city" because in 1904, 500 Tibetan soldiers held the fort for several days before being defeated by the British forces of the expeditionary force led by Younghusband. Previously, the fortress had to undergo the attacks of the Nepalese invaders.

During the Cultural Revolution, the fort was ransacked by the Red Guards, precious objects were destroyed or sent outside the Tibet Autonomous Region.



Today, despite its ruins, the Gyantse dzong is the best preserved fortress in Tibet. Two parts have been restored, including a chapel decorated with murals and Buddhist statues and a building housing a "British anti-imperialism museum", which gives the official version of the British incursion of 1904.

Inside the fortress, there is a small temple which has been recently renovated, it is dedicated to Sakyamuni Buddha and has frescoes in poor condition, including a painting of Avalokiteshvara.