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

Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog

Basic site data

  • Site name: Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog
  • English equivalent: Golden Pasture Ruined Castle
  • Site number: A-126
  • Site typology: I.1b
  • Elevation: 4490 m
  • Administrative location (township): Trashi GangBkra shis sgang
  • Administrative location (county): GarSgar
  • Survey expedition: HTWE
  • Survey date: July 1, 2004
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS I
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog sits atop a reddish outcrop not far from where the Serzhung ChuGser gzhung chu leaves the embrace of the range of mountains bounding the southwest side of the Senggé TsangpoSeng ge gtsang po valley. The old castle occupies the entire length of the outcrop (41 m). The outer side of this knob of rock (35 m in height) provided a fairly defensible position, as well as high social visibility in this stretch of the Senggé TsangpoSeng ge gtsang po valley. A single line of structures, arrayed east-west, once stood on the outcrop. Although significant wall elevations are found, no remains of the roofs are extant. The regular ground plan of the rooms indicates that the roofs were made of wood. Poplar and willow trees thrive further down the Senggé TsangpoSeng ge gtsang po valley in LadakLa dwags, but perhaps they once grew in this region as well. The east end of the summit is 4.7 m wide but most of it is around 6 m in width. The revetments supporting the buildings along the edges of the formation are minimal – 1 m or less in height. Below the west side of the summit there are the remains of a single wall (6 m long, up to 3.2 m in height) clinging to a rock face, which was probably constructed for defensive purposes. This wall creates a staging platform 1.9 m in width. Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog was built from the same light-colored uncut granite blocks (generally 15 cm to 40 cm in length) as the neighboring strongholds of Khargok Dorjé YudrönmaMkhar gog rdo rje g.yu sgron ma (A-124) and Kolok KhargokKo logs mkhar gog (A-125). The random-rubble walls (45 cm to 60 cm in thick) were heavily cemented with mud.

Defunct arable lands in the vicinity of Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog appear to have been significantly smaller in extent than those at Kolok KhargokKo logs mkhar gog (A-125). This more limited land-base is reflected in the size of the facility, which is smaller than Kolok KhargokKo logs mkhar gog.

Oral tradition

Area residents call Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog a castle of the ancient MönMon or SingpaSing pa. Mé DrandülMes dgra ’dul, an older local resident, stresses the foreign (Indian) origins of the builders of Serzhung KhargokGser gzhung mkhar gog.

Site elements

Summit complex

From west to east the structures of the summit complex have the following interior dimensions and physical characteristics:

  1. Residential structure RS1 (3.6 m by 3. 6 m) appears to have had a passageway on its north side.
  2. Residential structure RS2 (2.5 m by 5.4 m) appears to have had a passageway on the north side of this mostly leveled building. The revetted passageways adjoining RS1 and RS2 are likely part of the main entrance to the summit complex.
  3. Residential structure RS3 (2.3 m by 3.5 m) may have had a small room appended to its north side.
  4. Residential structure RS4 (3.7 m by 4.5 m maximum) has walls up to 2 m in height and an L-shaped floor plan.
  5. Residential structure RS5 (5.1 m by 2.8 m, walls up to 1.6 m in height) probably had three rooms. There is a 1.1 m gap between S4 and S5.
  6. Residential structure RS6 – (4 m by 4.9 m, walls up to 1.2 m in height).
  7. Residential structure RS7 – (4.3 m by 5.1 m, walls up to 1.4 m in height). There is a gap 1 m in width between RS6 and RS7.
  8. Residential structure RS8 (6 m by 4.4 m, walls up to 1.7 m in height) is irregularly shaped and the most easterly building at the site. This structure probably contained two or three rooms. The east end of the summit is slightly higher and narrower than the west end.
Outlying buildings

On the sandy northern flank of the hill, about 6 m below the western portion of the summit, there are the poorly preserved remains of two more buildings. The west structure (6.5 m by 4.5 m), despite having wall fragments up to 1.6 m in height, has been mostly obliterated. This destruction can be partially attributed to the failure of the slope upon which it was built. The east structure (7 m by 4 m?) is even more fragmentary. Its forward wall reaches 1.4 m in height. The main access route to the summit probably passed by these two outlying buildings.

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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.