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

Takrong TsamkhangStag rong mtshams khang

Basic site data

  • Site name: Takrong TsamkhangStag rong mtshams khang
  • English equivalent: Tiger Gorge Meditation House
  • Site number: B-19
  • Site typology: I.2a
  • Elevation: 4960 m to 4990 m
  • Administrative location: KyelakSkyed lag
  • Administrative location: Drongpa’Brong pa
  • Survey expedition: UTAE
  • Survey date: April 16, 2001
  • Contemporary usage: Light grazing.
  • Identifiable Buddhist constructions: None.
  • Maps: UTRS XI, HAS C5
  • View Place Dictionary Entry
  • View Site Images

General site characteristics

Takrong TsamkhangStag rong mtshams khang, situated high above the right/west side of the TakrongStag rong gorge, is a highly obscure monument consisting of three all-stone corbelled structures (dokhangrdo khang) in an advanced state of decay. This particular locale is called SalhéSa lhas, a boulder-strewn grassy slope. The remaining corbels, ground plans, constructional features, and semi-subterranean aspect of the structures demonstrate that they had an all-stone composition.

Oral tradition

According to local drokpa’brog pa, Takrong TsamkhangStag rong mtshams khang was an ancient BönpoBon po place of meditation.112

Site elements

All-stone corbelled structures
Upper dokhangrdo khang

The upper dokhangrdo khang has been utterly leveled. In close proximity there is a corral-like enclosure of significant age.

Middle dokhangrdo khang

The middle dokhangrdo khang is situated a few tens of meters from the upper dokhangrdo khang. The main part of the middle specimen has parts of all four walls intact (3 m by 5 m). The rear wall was built at least 1 m into the slope upon which pieces of two corbels rest. The middle dokhangrdo khang may have had an extension but this could not be determined with any exactitude.

Lower dokhangrdo khang

The lower dokhangrdo khang is situated nearly 100 m downhill of the middle dokhangrdo khang. The main structure is set as much as 1.5 m into the slope, clearly giving it a semi-subterranean aspect. On top of the rear wall several corbels are still in situ. There appear to be structural extensions west of the main part of the lower dokhangrdo khang.

TakrongStag rong

The narrow gorge and hot springs of TakrongStag rong is still considered by local Buddhist drokpa’brog pa to be a sacred site of the BönpoBon po.113 According to the BönBon Tisé KarchakTi se’i dkar chag, Takna RongStag sna rong/Takna LingStag sna gling, was where the Zhang ZhungZhang zhung king Takna ZijiStag sna gzi brjid had his castle Takna WeldzongStag sna dbal rdzong.114 It would appear by the description given in this account of Takna RongStag sna rong that, by being situated at the foot of Pori NgedenSpos ri ngad ldan (some 180 km to the west), an area larger than the single TakrongStag rong valley is described in this text. In the local sacred geographic tradition of TakrongStag rong,115 the site is said to have been a stronghold of King Takzig Norgi GyelpoStag gzig nor gyi rgyal po. He is said to have had two priests: AwongA bong, the tiger lama, and MiwongMi bong, the lama with the magic lasso. The river of TakrongStag rong passes under an area of geothermal activity. This geographic oddity is referred to as the self-formed bridge of King GesarGe sar. The geomantic heart of the site is a high volume hot spring called Sinpo NyingchuSrin po snying chu. Pinnacles of mineral precipitates thrown up by the hot springs represent the BönBon deity Takla MembarStag la me ’bar and his circle of 18 DrekpaDregs pa spirits. Other light and dark pinnacles called LékarnakLas dkar nag (White and Black Destiny) represent heaven and hell. There are also “palaces” of the lhalha, nyengnyan and luklu, vertically arrayed to reflect the characteristic placement of these deities in the sky, earth and underworld realms of the tripartite universe (sisumsrid gsum/sipa sumsrid pa gsum).


[112] According to Loppön Tendzin NamdakSlob dpon bstan ’dzin rnam dag, this site is probably connected to the Zhang Zhung Nyengyüzhang zhung snyan rgyud tradition.
[113] For additional information see Bellezza, Antiquities of Northern Tibet, 120.
[114] Bellezza, Antiquities of Upper Tibet, 59.
[115] This geographic lore was procured from ButiBu sti, a local drokpa’brog pa around 60 years of age. He is widely recognized in the area as an authority on the sacred geographic traditions of TakrongStag rong. He reports obtaining this information from various elders and, most notably, from a ngakpasngags pa named Trashi MönlamBkra shis smon lam who passed away some years ago.

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.