Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Antiquities of Zhang Zhung
by John Vincent Bellezza
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow, Mickey Stockwell and Michael White
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Published under the THL Digital Text License.

I.1. Residential Structures Occupying Summits: Fortresses, breastworks, religious buildings, palaces, and related edifices

Hala KharHa la mkhar West

Basic site data

  • Site name: Hala KharHa la mkhar West
  • Site number: A-58
  • Site typology: I.1b
  • Elevation: 4170 m
  • Administrative location (township): Change Place of Residence Mountain Face46
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda'
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: May 4, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, UTRS X, HAS C3
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Once a castle or palace, Hala KharHa la mkhar West shares the same general architectonic features as Black Acme Castle (A-57), as well as a similar geographic aspect. The elegantly presented main edifice of Hala KharHa la mkhar West covers the top of a summit rising 80 m above the HalaHa la valley. The commanding position of the site lends it the aura of both a stronghold and palace. The main edifice (23 m by 17 m) contained around 20 rooms. The random-rubble walls of this structure are topped by rammed-earth walls of varying heights. The HalaHa la valley is now utterly devoid of permanent settlement.

Oral tradition

Apparently none has survived in the locale.

Site elements


The walls of the main edifice consist of mud-mortared brownish stone blocks (10 cm to 50 cm long) and are around 50 cm in thickness. These walls have short spans and are aligned in various directions, creating a multifaceted ground plan. Walls are as much as 3 m in height on the south side of the structure and as little as 50 cm high on the north side. Above the stone walls there are bits of highly degraded rammed-earth walls. The tallest extant rammed-earth wall sections are 2.5 m in height. The orifices (used to accommodate the pins that held the wooden molding in place during the construction of the earthen walls) are lined with thin pieces of stone. The exterior south wall is the highest elevation feature (up to 4 m) to have persisted at the site. The entrance to the castle was in the southeast and was built upon a high elevation revetment, which contains cruder stonework than that of the freestanding walls. The deeply recessed entrance creates an inlet, 4.5 m in length and 2.8 m in width on its exterior side. This sheltered space progressively narrows towards the core of the building. It appears that a stone buttressed trail led up to the entrance but very little of it has survived.

In the east exterior wall of the building, near the south corner, there is the only extant window opening (35 cm by 25 cm) at the site. In the north of the structure there are the remains of an interior mud-block wall, the only one of this type at Hala KharHa la mkhar West. The room partitions are now highly dissolute and reach a maximum height of 1.5 m to 2 m. These dividing walls were primarily built of stone, at least along their lower courses. The constructional features for the support of a stone roof are not present at Hala KharHa la mkhar West, thus we can infer that its roof was supported by timbers. Local rounds of tamarisk, which reach 2 m to 2.5 m in length, may have been used for this purpose. Below the entrance to the main building there was a small dependency, which has been leveled to its footings.


[46] Also spelled DongwoLdong bo/DongpoMdongs po. DongpoGdong spo translates as “Change Place of Residence Mountain Face.” This place name is said to be derived from the movement of the valley’s monastery three times to different hills over the course of history.

Note Citation for Page

John Vincent Bellezza, Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Monuments on the Tibetan Upland (Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010), .

Bibliographic Citation

John Vincent Bellezza. Antiquities of Zhang Zhung: A Comprehensive Inventory of Pre-Buddhist Archaeological Monuments on the Tibetan Upland. Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010.