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

KölkharKol mkhar

Basic site data

  • Site name: KölkharKol mkhar (sp.?)
  • Site number: A-122
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 3630 m
  • Administrative location (township): TiyakTi yag
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda’
  • Survey expedition: HTAE
  • Survey date: October 16, 2003
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C2
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The small stronghold of KölkharKol mkhar is situated 500 m vertical below NuSnu village and 300 m above the Langchen TsangpoGlang chen gtsang po. The location of this facility deep inside a gorge is possibly best explained by the existence of a route across the Langchen TsangpoGlang chen gtsang po from below this point. This facility could have monitored or controlled the river crossing, helping to regulate trade in the region. The site consists of a single fairly well aligned building (9.5 m by 9.3 m) that straddles a narrow ridge-top. This structure has an open ground plan with no partition walls visible. Exterior wall elevations reach 1.6 m and interior wall elevations 1 m in height. Walls are composed of random-rubble texture, and are 35 cm to 45 cm in thickness. Brown sandstone and to a lesser degree, bluish limestone, was employed in construction. Stones are generally 10 cm to 30 cm in length with the longest specimens reaching 50 cm.

Oral tradition

According to villagers in NuSnu, KölkharKol mkhar is named for the Kölwé LamaKol ba’i bla ma (sp.?). He was so called due to the KölKol mediation cave located at a somewhat lower elevation. Kölwé LamaKol ba’i bla ma is said to have meditated here sometime in the past.

Site elements


The entrance is nestled in an inlet on the east side of the edifice. This indenture is composed of two walls that project 1.6 m from the main body of the building. This architectural feature is reminiscent of the entranceways found in Hala KharHa la mkhar West (A-58) and Naktsuk KharNag gtsug mkhar (A-57). The entryway walls are as much as 2.3 m high on their exterior sides. Set 1.7 m apart, the enclosed space between the entryway walls rises 1 m to the floor level of the stronghold. This rise must have been ascended by a stairway but nothing of it remains. The original route up the steep east slope to the facility has also been obliterated. Access to the facility is now from the north along the ridge-top. Some stones in the walls of the stronghold were set both vertically and horizontally to create an alternating texture. On the same summit, 17.5 m to the south, there is a single poorly preserved 4 m long wall fragment at ground level.

Affiliated sites

Dorjé LingRdo rje gling

In the RongchungRong chung region of TiyakTi yag township there is a site called Dorjé LingRdo rje gling, which is said to have been a fortress before being converted into a monastery. According to local sources, this monastery was destroyed long ago.84 Dorjé LingRdo rje gling is found on steep slopes on the opposite side of the valley from MaryangMar g.yang village, at 3500 m. It occupies a strategic position in the valley. The site covers an area of approximately 60 m by 20 m. Walls are of the rammed-earth and limestone block types. A number of ruined Buddhist buildings are found on the site as well as a Riksum GönpoRigs gsum mgon po shrine. This shrine, situated at the highest point of the site, was founded on an old revetment. If indeed a fortress was once situated at Dorjé LingRdo rje gling, this substantial foundation structure is likely to have belonged to it.


[84] According to Gugé Tsering GyelpoGu ge tshe ring rgyal po, the Dorjé LingRdo rje gling fortress was occupied by a famous local headman (pönpodpon po) during the time of the GugéGu ge kings (Gugé Tsering GyelpoGu ge tshe ring rgyal po, Ngari ChöjungMnga’ ris chos ’byung, 286).

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.