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.2. Residential Structures in Other Locations: Religious and Elite Residences

LhalungLha lung

Basic site data

  • Site name: LhalungLha lung
  • English equivalent: Divine Valley
  • Site number: B-35
  • Site typology: I.2a
  • Elevation: 4660 m to 4750 m
  • Administrative location (township): DerokSde rog
  • Administrative location (county): RutokRu thog
  • Survey expedition: HTCE
  • Survey date: May 26, 2002
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS I, HAS A1
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

In the upper LhalungLha lung valley there are seven all-stone corbelled structures dispersed over a fairly wide area. At the head of the narrow and rocky LhalungLha lung valley stands the main yüllhayul lha (territorial deity) of RutokRu thog, the mountain Gekhö NyenlungGe khod gnyan lung.124 All but the lower two dokhangrdo khang are in direct view of Gekhö NyenlungGe khod gnyan lung, the residence of a god important to the BönpoBon po to the present day. The terrain of the valley is thickly covered in dramagra ma brush. Archaic cultural horizon anchorites must have used these secluded residential structures for religious practice. All the dokhangrdo khang have mud-mortared random-rubble walls, however, much of the mortar has disappeared from the exterior joints. Thin blocks and slabs up to 80 cm in length were used in construction. The exterior faces of these stones appear to have been hewn flat. There is now no permanent source of water in the upper LhalungLha lung valley, but there certainly must have been one when the facility was built and used.

Oral tradition

Some residents of Rutokru thog assert that LhalungLha lung was a Kel MönSkal mon residential installation.

Site elements

DokhangRdo khang complex

The numbers assigned to each dokhangrdo khang reflect their relative position in the valley. The highest elevation specimen is RS1 and the lowest specimen is RS7. RS1 to RS5 face south towards Gekhö NyenlungGe khod gnyan lung.

Residential Structure RS1

Residential structure RS1 (6.5 m by 7 m / 4550 m) is found in the valley bottom and has a good southern exposure. It was constructed on a level piece of ground in between two gullies. This structure seems to have had four very small south rooms, all of which have been leveled. There are also two much better preserved north rooms with wall segments up to 1.5 m in height. The northeast room has a few in situ corbels resting on the walls. The internal height of the northwest room is 1.3 m but some infilling is likely to have occurred over time. Bearing down on the corbels in the northwest room are several sheathing slabs up to 1 m in length. Extending 11 m from the south face of the building there is a wall that partly encloses an open courtyard space.

Residential Structure RS2

Residential structure RS2 (11.5 m by 7 m / 4750 m) is in poor condition. It appears to have consisted of two tiers of small rooms. Slabs and bridging stones are strewn around the site. One bridging stone, (1.3 m in length) cut to have four even sides, is found among them. The rear wall of RS2 was deeply built into a steep and rocky slope. On the northwest side of the rear wall, a few corbels and roof slabs are in place. On the east side of the rear wall there is a recess covered with stone slabs. Part of the roof still covers what was probably the central rear room; this room has been almost completely filled with earth and rubble.

Residential Structure RS3

Residential structure RS3 is located 9.5 m east of RS2. Its fractional foundation seems to measure 8 m by 4 m.

Residential Structure RS4

Residential structure RS4 is situated 30 m east or down valley of RS3. It was built at the base of the slope. Very little of this structure is in evidence, but it appears to have been comprised of three tiers of rooms. In what may have been the middle tier, there is a small 1.6-m high wall fragment punctuated by an integral entranceway (1 m by 50 cm).

Residential Structure RS5

Residential structure RS5 (4730 m) is situated approximately 70 m down valley from RS4. It was founded at the base of a steep talus-blanketed slope on the right side of the LhalungLha lung valley. The entire forward or southwest section of the structure has been demolished. RS5 measured 9 m by a minimum of 5 m. The rear or northeast wall was built into the slope to a depth of 1.8 m. Some corbels and bridging stones are still attached to the rear wall. There were either two or three rear rooms. Three niches are found in the back wall of the rear rooms.

Residential Structure RS6

Residential structure RS6 (7.5 m by 6 m / 4660 m) is found in the valley bottom roughly 200 m below RS5. It was built at the foot of the slope flanking the left side of the valley and is bounded by ancient moraines. All but the west corner of the carcass has been reduced to piles of rubble. The west corner was built 1 m into the adjoining slope and has one in situ corbel. This wall contains many stones 40 cm to 70 cm in length. Bridging stones and corbels are dispersed around the ruin.

Residential Structure RS7

Residential structure RS7 is located 25 m east of RS6, in the middle of the valley floor. This structure is also bounded by ancient moraines. Its size and design characteristics have been lost through the construction of a corral (RutokRu thog dialect = lhakhalhas kha). On the west and north side of the corral there are bits of the original walls. In a 1.2 m high-northwest wall fragment, a niche has survived.

Other structures

On a shelf above the left side of the mouth of the LhalungLha lung valley there is what may be the foundation of a small residential structure (4500 m).


[124] For lore and textual information about this sacred mountain see Bellezza, Calling Down the Gods; Bellezza, Zhang Zhung.

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.