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

KharnakMkhar nag

Basic site data

  • Site name: KharnakMkhar nag
  • Site number: A-127
  • Site typology: I.1a
  • Elevation: 4270 m
  • Administrative location (township): O JangO byang
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTWE
  • Survey date: July 6, 2004
  • Contemporary usage: Unknown.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: Unknown.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

The ruins of KharnakMkhar nag stand on the flanks and summit of a dark-colored rocky mount, which rises 120 m above the waterway flowing between PanggongtsoSpang gong mtsho and Tsomo Ngangla RingtsoMtsho mo ngang la ring mtsho. The summit seems to have hosted a cluster of buildings as is found at many other strongholds of RutokRu thog. There is also a network of old defensive walls staggered along the south face of the formation. The east side of the hill appears to have ruined ramparts as well. There are structures on the lower west side too, but their identity could not be judged. All original structures of KharnakMkhar nag appear to have a random-work texture built using dark slabs of rock. The dominant use of rock slabs and the orientation and style of structures at KharnakMkhar nag suggests that they belong to the archaic cultural horizon.

The Chinese Communist military (PLA) constructed reinforced concrete structures at KharnakMkhar nag often using the older ruins as foundations. These constructions have seriously affected the integrity of the archaeological site. Such types of fortifications, built in the 1960s or 1970s, were designed for conflicts involving light infantry forces and are no longer of strategic importance. A functioning PLA garrison is located at the southern foot of KharnakMkhar nag. Due to the ongoing nature of military operations the survey team was not permitted to access the ruins.

Oral tradition

According to natives of the area, KharnakMkhar nag was once an agricultural settlement. A smaller agricultural enclave is said to have been located in the PelzhungDpal gzhung (sp.?) valley to the east (debouches into the Ngangla RingtsoNgang la ring mtsho basin at 79° 28΄ E. long.).


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.