Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
by John Vincent Bellezza
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow, Mickey Stockwell and Michael White
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Published under the THL Digital Text License.

Site elements

The cave

The heavy soot and thick white mold covering much of the interior of the cave indicates that it has been occupied for a significant period of time. The east chamber was devoted to religious practice and is where the meditators slept. The sleeping platform was hewn out of the rock wall of the cave. There is also a stone and adobe bay in the east chamber that was used to enshrine sacrificial cakes (Tormagtor ma). The west chamber was used for cooking and storage. It contains a rectangular stone and adobe hearth with openings for two pots, as well as a couple of entablatures that functioned as storage spaces. A prayer flag mast stands inside the walled courtyard in front of the cave façade. The small wooden door in the facade predates the modern period. Just to the east of Lhalung DruppukLha lung sgrub phug there is another cave house, which is also thought to be of ancient origins. It is now used by a local family for storage. In two fissures in the limestone cliff behind the caves there are a couple of counterclockwise swastikas painted in red ochre. These pictographs are of considerable age and seem to mark the ancient tenure of the site.

All-stone corbelled edifices

The antiquity of the Lhalung DruppukLha lung sgrub phug site is confirmed by the existence of two all-stone corbelled edifices, situated on a rock shelf just north of the caves. The larger south dokhangrdo khang is divided by the remains of a partition wall into a south room and a north room. The outer wall (side facing Dangra YutsoDang ra g.yu mtsho) of this ruined building is 2 m to 2.5 m in height. It contains the vestiges of two or three small windows. The opposite or rear wall was built as much as 2 m into the ground against the light-colored limestone formation. The long, narrow north room seems to possess the ambience of a sanctuary or chapel. There are a few in situ corbels resting on the walls of the north room, as well as two large niches in its walls. The south room is less well preserved. In front of the south dokhangrdo khang a small terrace provides an external extension of the domestic environs. A few meters farther north along the same limestone shelf is the north dokhangrdo khang, a ruined single room habitation with a semi-subterranean aspect. There are two large in situ corbels resting on the lakeside-facing wall of this building.

LhalungLha lung Village

Only one family permanently resides in LhalungLha lung, a satellite community of KyisumSkyid gsum village, located 2 km to the south.235 Agriculture is now limited to fields that straddle the tiny Lhalung ChuLha lung chu, but, as evidenced by the remains of terraces and walls, agriculture at one time extended far to the south along a series of naturally occurring terraces. These terraces have formed since the early Holocene as Dangra YutsoDang ra g.yu mtsho shrunk in size. According to a local oral tradition, extensive agriculture took place in LhalungLha lung during the prehistoric Zhang ZhungZhang zhung period, but was subsequently curtailed due to a lack of water. Also at LhalungLha lung there is a boulder more than 1 m in height called PhabongkharngaPha bong ’khar rnga (Bell-Metal Drum Boulder). When this thin, rounded boulder is struck it emits a metallic sound. It is said to be a relic of ancient Zhang ZhungZhang zhung.


[235] KyisumSkyid gsum is home to Kyisum LadrangSkyid gsum bla brang (established circa 1100 CE), a Zhang Zhung NyengyüZhang zhung snyan rgyud facility that managed to escape complete destruction during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Note Citation for Page

John Vincent Bellezza, (Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010), .

Bibliographic Citation

John Vincent Bellezza. . Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010.