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

Rakkhashak Möngyi KharRag kha shag mon gyi mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: Rakkhashak Möngyi KharRag kha shag mon gyi mkhar
  • English equivalent: RakkhashakRag kha shag Castle of the mon
  • Site number: A-115
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 4180 m (midpoint)
  • Administrative location (township): ShangtséShang rtse
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda’
  • Survey expedition: HTAE
  • Survey date: October 12, 2003
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The cave complex of Rakkhashak Möngyi KharRag kha shag mon gyi mkhar is in a precipitous earthen formation, situated several kilometers down valley from the village of RakkhashakRag kha shag (named for a noble family). If summit facilities were located at this site they are no longer visible from below. There are over 20 caves in the west-facing vertical formation. Virtually all of the caves have lost substantial parts of their fronts due to slope failure and erosion. Arable land that was recently brought back under cultivation is found in the valley below the site. It would appear that the caves represent an ancient troglodytic settlement that likely had an agrarian economic base. The habitation function is borne out by the niches and bays hewn into certain caves. It may be that Rakkhashak Möngyi KharRag kha shag mon gyi mkhar was active in the same period as the cave settlements of RakkhashakRag kha shag (A-114), which appear to represent a larger and more desirable locus of settlement. By following a series of extremely narrow ledges, it is possible to reach the midpoint of the cave complex. At this level, on the prow of the formation, there is a wall approximately 20 m in length and 1 m in height enclosing a natural shelf. It is made of natural earthen slabs cut from the formation and has two cobble vertical courses laid diagonally at its base. Caves and a walled ledge situated at higher elevation are no longer approachable.

Oral tradition

According to local sources, Rakkhashak Möngyi KharRag kha shag mon gyi mkhar was an ancient castle of the MönMon.

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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.