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

Manam KharMa nam mkhar West

Basic site data

  • Site name: Manam KharMa nam mkhar West
  • Site number: B-77
  • Site typology: I.2b
  • Elevation: 4650 m
  • Administrative location (township): DabapMda’ babs
  • Administrative location (county): TsamdaRtsa mda’
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: May 8, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: None.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS V, HAS C2
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Manam KharMa nam mkhar West was built on the edge of an escarpment that rises approximately 40 m above the left or west side of the ManamMa nam/ManamMa nams river valley. The large adobe block structure has a ground plan similar to that found at Hala KharHa la mkhar East (A-59) and KharchungMkhar chung (A-136), characterized by linear series of small rooms. Manam KharMa nam mkhar West could potentially have contained more than 40 rooms, but most physical signs of them have been eradicated. The design of this large edifice contrasts strongly with that of Buddhist temples and monasteries in GugéGu ge. Moreover, there are no Buddhist emblems or oral traditions associated with the site. This evidence probably signifies an archaic cultural identity. Although Manam KharMa nam mkhar West is surrounded by sheer cliffs on its east and north flanks, the other approaches to the site are open. The oral tradition attributing a castle identity to the site is therefore questionable.

Oral tradition

According to villagers of ManamMa nam, Manam KharMa nam mkhar West was an ancient castle.

Site elements


The east side of the 50 m long (north-south) Manam KharMa nam mkhar West sits on the edge of an escarpment, while its west side bounds a shelf. The long edifice was built on a natural rise, 1.5 m to 2.5 m in height, which is accented by a gully that forms on its west side. The walls are highly eroded but still regularly reach 2 m to 3 m in height. The edifice was built on a cobble base (1 m to 1.2 m high) endowing it with a fairly high elevation. Parts of both the east and west sides of the structure have slipped down the slopes. So highly eroded are the adobe-block walls that their seams are only visible in a couple of sheltered nooks. The north end of the building is around 7 m wide and may only have supported a single room. The structure then widens to around 10 m.

Manam KharMa nam mkhar West is divided by a longitudinal wall (north-south), which runs from the north end of the edifice to within 14 m of its southern extremity. On the west side of this dividing wall there is a row of at least nine rooms that progressively narrow to the south. From north to south they begin at 2.5 m in width (east-west) narrowing to about 1.2 m, constituting what may have been no more than a passageway. These rooms are each 2 m to 3.5 m in length (north-south). The fragmentary nature of the walls and the loss of significant parts of the west side of the building preclude a detailed assessment of its plan. East of the longitudinal wall the edifice is up to 6 m in width, and in certain areas there may have been two parallel rows of rooms oriented north-south. This is borne out by a couple of partition wall segments that create intermediate spaces near the north end of the structure. South of the longitudinal wall the edifice widens to around 13 m, creating walls which run at right angles to the axis of the structure. The ground plan of the south end of the building is not clear. On the west side of the southern portion of the structure there was a narrow row of rooms or a passageway.

Affiliated sites

Manam KharMa nam mkhar East

In addition to the famous 11th century CE Buddhist monastery of ManamMa nam, situated in the valley bottom, there is a so-called castle on the summit of an earthen formation rising 250 m above ManamMa nam village. This Buddhist facility, known as Manam KharMa nam mkhar East, is located east of the village. It consists of three small ruined chapels (lhakanglha khang) made of adobe blocks, locally called Lhakhang MarpoLha khang dmar po, Lhakhang KarpoLha khang dkar po, and Gyelwa Jampa LhakhangRgyal ba byams pa lha khang. In the latter temple there is a 2 m high clay statue of the Buddha to come, JampaByams pa, fully exposed to the elements. These Buddhist chapels consist of typical high elevation walls cloaked in mud plaster, ochre tinting and small traces of frescos. They are said to have been destroyed before living memory. There are over 30 shallow caves in the vicinity of the monastery. Some of these caves have cut niches and recesses and fire-blackened ceilings, telltale signs of human occupation. Below the three chapels there are minor remains of stone walls. Perhaps these structures, as insignificant as they seem to be, were part of an earlier castle that existed at the site. According to local legend, the yüllhayul lha of ManamMa nam, Ipi SergyuI phi ser gyu, destroyed either a HorpaHor pa or SingpaSing pa army at this location by creating a torrent with the water in which she had washed her hair.


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.