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

Chulung Okma KharChu lung ’og ma mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: Chulung Okma KharChu lung ’og ma mkhar
  • English equivalent: Lower Water Valley Castle
  • Site number: A-90
  • Site typology: I.1b
  • Elevation: 4340 m to 4380 m
  • Administrative location (township): RutokRu thog
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: May 30, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Propitiation with incense to the gods (lhasöllha gsol).
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: tsa tsatsha tsha receptacles are found on the lower east side of the base of the hill, above the village of Chulung TömaChu lung stod ma. On the summit there is a small flagpole.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The fairly small (1100 m²) but adeptly constructed Chulung OkmaChu lung ’og ma was founded on a granite hill overlooking the confluence of the Chulung OkmaChu lung ’og ma and RutokRu thog valleys. It possesses a strategic position in the middle of this important agricultural locality. The facility covers the summit and east flank of the formation almost to its base. The relatively long wall spans are not buttressed, indicating that most structures were built with wooden roofs. The stronghold was constructed of random-texture granite cobbles. These stones tend to be smaller in size (10 cm to 50 cm in length). Most of the mud-mortar that cemented the walls has washed away.

Oral tradition

According to local villagers, Chulung OkmaChu lung ’og ma was a castle that guarded the western portal of Shenpa MerutséBshan pa sme ru rtse’s HorHor kingdom in RutokRu thog (see fn. 80).

Site elements


There were around ten rooms in several buildings packed on the two levels of the summit (20 m by 15 m). The maximum external wall elevation is 4.5 m (including the revetments) and interior wall segments reach 2.7 m. There are several window openings in walls, measuring around 30 cm by 30 cm. The lower sector runs for 40 m along the angle of the slope and is around 23 m in width. Most of the east flank structures are highly degraded. The exception is near the base of the hill where four small buildings have most of their walls intact. The largest of these buildings measures 5.5 m by 4.8 m. These four structures represent a later phase in the development of the site. Other minor structures near the foot of the Chulung Okma KharChu lung ’og ma mkhar formation have been redeveloped for pastoral usage.

Oma Karchung’O ma dkar chung

The Oma Karchung’O ma dkar chung (Little White Milk) chötenmchod rten is located northwest of ChulungChu lung village. According to local legend, three ancient religious practitioners called Jomo PünsumJo mo spun gsum (Three Sister Mistresses) built it. One of them made a spring magically appear, providing the water needed for construction. Another sister milked a wild yak (drong’brong) to obtain milk to color the chötenmchod rten, while the third sister actually built the structure. The monument has no real spire (khorlo’khor lo), just a simple bulbous finial.


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.