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

Lungpa Rakpa KharLung pa rag pa mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: Lungpa Rakpa KharLung pa rag pa mkhar
  • English equivalent: Tawny Valley Castle
  • Site number: A-67
  • Site typology: I.1c
  • Elevation: 4610 m
  • Administrative location (township): winter settlement
  • Administrative location (county): GarSgar
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: May 15, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The small residential complex of Lungpa Rakpa KharLung pa rag pa mkhar is situated on the right side of an effluent valley, 350 m above the eastern edge of the GarSgar valley. This site is dominated by a rampart ringing the top of a formation (24 m by 6 m to 7 m). The facility has expansive views of the GarSgar valley, and must have been used to secretly monitor activities in the valley. Higher ground around it could have been used by an enemy to outflank the outpost. However, this is a closed valley and the location of Tawny Valley Castle is highly secluded.

Oral tradition

None was collected.

Site elements


On its interior side the main defensive wall is now either flush with the formation or elevated to a maximum height of 80 cm. On the exterior side this encircling structure reaches a maximum height of 2.5 m. Built with a dry-stone random-rubble fabric, the heavy rampart wall is 1.3 m to 1.5 m thick. Locally-occurring, light-colored igneous stones that have varnished reddish brown were used in construction. Courses of large stone up to 1.1 m in length filled with smaller stones were used on the exterior face of the rampart. In the middle of the edifice there is a 2.3 m long transverse wall but it is unclear what type of partition this is. The extant structural vestiges are insufficient to determine if there were permanent or temporary shelters within the ramparts. The entrance to the facility is found on the north side of the structure (an unusual aspect); it includes a 3 m long natural rock ramp way sandwiched between the rampart and an outer defensive wall that leads up to it. The bottom end of this ramp is on a small ledge, creating an opening in the defensive works.

Concealed building

Some distance below the outpost there is a stone building foundation (15 m by 4 m minimum) hidden in a morainal valley. It was constructed on gently sloping sandy terrain. Its location is as discrete as is possible for a place that still has access to ample sunlight. The well-built wall footings are 60 cm to 80 cm thick, and are at ground level or protrude up to 50 cm above the surface. A 4 m long wall bisects the structure. There may be adjacent structural extensions but not enough is visible to know for certain.


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.