It’s not so easy to get to Guge in Western Tibet. It's about 1,200 hundred miles away from Lhasa or a ten-hour drive from the closest airport. It's not far from Kailash and Lake Manasarover, so often it's part of a pilgrimage to Kailash. In July 2017, Sangha-Journeys will be incorporate Guge in its itinerary to Kailash.
Founded in the 10th century by a descendant of a Tibetan king, Guge's emergence marked the second promulgation of Buddhism in Tibet. Lost in the 17th century under mysterious circumstances, it was rediscovered in the 1930's by the Italian explorer, Guiseppe Tucci.
The site includes houses, once-inhabited caves, monasteries and stupas as well as sculptures, carvings and murals. The ruins cover an area of 720,000 sq. meters and lie at 3,800 m / 12,400 ft.
Tsaparong was the capital of Guge. It is a fortress perched on a pyramid-shaped rock. At the base was a village where the common people lived. At mid-level, two temples for monks, and higher up, the royal quarters including a summer palace at the very summit. from the 17th century onward, Tsaparang was a ruin intact in time until the devastation of the Cultural Revolution. It is now deemed part of the great artistic and historical treasures of ancient China.
Tholing (or Tho Ding) means hovering in the heights. It is twelve miles east of Tsaparong. This monastery was built in the 11th century under the guidance of the famous translator Rinchen Zangpo. It includes six major temples and well preserved murals in the Guge style of Buddhist art. The great Atisha spent three years there and the caves of previous meditators can be seen in the cliffs.
- The New York Review of Books, Submerged in the Cosmic Kingdom, David Shulman, http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/02/24/submerged-in-the-cosmic-kingdom-guge-peter-van-ham/
- Also several documentaries on YouTube.
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