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

Khargok Dorjé YudrönmaMkhar gog rdo rje g.yu sgron ma

Basic site data

  • Site name: Khargok Dorjé YudrönmaMkhar gog rdo rje g.yu sgron ma
  • English equivalent: Ruined Castle of Dorjé YudrönmaRdo rje g.yu sgron ma
  • Site number: A-124
  • Site typology: I.1x
  • Elevation: 4370 m
  • Administrative location (township): Trashi GangBkra shis sgang
  • Administrative location (county): GarSgar
  • Survey expedition: HTWE
  • Survey date: June 30, 2004
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS I
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Khargok Dorjé YudrönmaMkhar gog rdo rje g.yu sgron ma is located on the left bank of the Senggé TsangpoSeng ge gtsang po (Indus river), on a light-colored hilltop that sits west of the border village of DemchokBde mchog. It is named for the popular Tibetan TenmaBrten ma goddess. The summit rises 120 m above the old agricultural settlement (much of this arable land now lies fallow). The relatively large amount of farmland in the DemchokBde mchog locale must have, at least in part, provided the economic impetus for the construction of the castle. The facility has a fairly good defensive posture due to the steep slopes that surround it. The stronghold forms a contiguous complex of tight-knit buildings, with an axis 65 m in length (oriented northeast-southwest). The complex has a maximum width of 38 m. There must have been at least 80 rooms/buildings at Khargok Dorjé YudrönmaMkhar gog rdo rje g.yu sgron ma in total. Narrow, open passageways appear to have connected the various structures. Undoubtedly this site was founded when the local population was significantly larger than at present. All buildings are highly degraded although many wall segments reach a height of 50 cm to 1 m. No roofing materials are in situ. All structures were built of light-colored unhewn granite blocks, generally 20 to 50 cm in length. The mud-mortared walls (40 cm to 60 cm thick) have a random-rubble texture. Archaic morphological features of the site include the diminutive size of the buildings and other structural features indicative of all-stone corbelled edifices such as upslope walls deeply inset into the ground.


Oral tradition

Some Tibetans of the region variously attribute Dorjé Yudrönma KharRdo rje g.yu sgron ma mkhar to the MönMon or SingpaSing pa.

Site elements

North rim structures

The north rim of the summit is lined with a continuous band of small rooms/buildings. The largest of these structures has interior dimensions of 2 m by 5 m, but most are significantly smaller (around 4 m² or 5 m²). The dimensions of these interior spaces are such that they could have accommodated all-stone corbelled roofs (but little evidence for this feature remains). The lining of the edge of a summit with edifices, but no ramparts or curtain-walls, is also encountered upstream at “MönMon” sites such as Kharlung KhargokMkhar lung mkhar gog (A-66). The inner or uphill walls of the northern rim structures are built as much as 1.5 m into the ground. Most of the north rim structures sit upon low elevation revetments, but one building surmounts a revetment 2 m in height. Approximately 4 m to 5 m below the north side of the summit, a level area was cut along the slope. This transverse walkway is 5 m to 7 m wide and continues around to the east face of the hillside. No such circumvallation is found on the south side of the formation. There was possibly a section on the southwest flanks of the hill but most of it has slid away. More complete circumvallations are found at western Tibetan sites like Gya Nyima KharRgya nyi ma mkhar (A-53) and Drak PukBrag phug (A-35). These types of encircling passageways probably had tactical functions relating to the deployment of defenders.

Other structures

The east side of the summit complex is ringed with small structures set as much as 1.7 m into the ground on the uphill side. In one such structure, depressed 1.1 m, there are the roots of a buttress forming a divide between two small rooms with rounded corners. Two granite members 1 m in length (likely functioned as roof appurtenances) were found among the rubble of this structure. These morphological features are typical of dokhangrdo khang architecture. Nevertheless, there appear to have also been larger buildings with regular ground plans that are likely to have had wooden roofs at the site. One such structure has interior dimensions of 6 m by 6 m (located near the upper east end of the summit). Likewise the structures along the south rim of the summit appear to have been larger and taller than those on the north and east rims. There are larger structures towards the center of the Dorjé Yudrönma KharRdo rje g.yu sgron ma mkhar complex as well. One of these central buildings had a floor space measuring 10 m by 2.5 m to 3 m. At the southwest corner of the summit there is a small remnant of what may have been an earthen wall. The east side of the summit extends well beyond the zone of ruins. A gully 2 m deep was cut to demarcate the complex from the undeveloped eastern portion of the summit. This excavation may have been part of a defensive outwork.


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.