The temples of Tsaparang
Coordinates of the site: 31°27’58.38″ northern latitude and 79°40’13.70″ eastern longitude at an altitude of 3750 metres.
Tsaparang is located in the Ngari district of the Tibet Autonomous Region, about 12 kilometres (airline) west of Tholing. In the 15th century Tsaparang replaced Tholing as the seat of the kings of the Guge kingdom. During the following centuries many temples were built around this important site, a great number of them have fallen victim of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Nonetheless parts of the buildings in Tsaparang are still preserved until the present day, providing evidence of the rich cultural history of the place. The ruins showing a huge fortress perched on a pyramid-shaped rock rising about 150-180 metres at the end of a long narrow spur. The rock contains numerous tunnels and caves that have been carved out. At the very top the royal quarter and the palace were located. At the foot of the fortress between the ruins of the village four temples are preserved which are of particular interest in respect of their paintings and clay sculptures. The two larger temples – the White Temple (Lhakhang Karpo) and the Red Temple (Lhakhang Marpo) – are located on the north-eastern side of the cliff. The small Tara temple lies 20 metres distant on the eastern side of the White Temple, and the Yamantaka Temple closely to the Red Temple on its south-eastern side. Another small temple named Mandala Temple is located behind the residential quarters on the eastern side of the peak.
Cf. Luczanits, Christian. 2004. Buddhist Sculpture in Clay: Early Western Himalayan Art, late 10th to early 13th centuries. Chicago: Serindia Publications, pp. 283-288. Cf. Aschoff, Jürgen C. 1989. Tsaparang-Königsstadt in Westtibet: Die vollstänigen Berichte des Jesuitenpaters António de Andrade und eine Beschreibung vom heitigen Zustand der Klöster.” Munich: MC Verlag.