Gar County Overview
About Gar County
Gar, one of the frontier counties, lies in the west of Tibet. The town sits at an elevation of 4,255 meters with a population of 12,000, and covers an area of 17,197 square kilometers. The town Gar got its Chinese name because of the Shiquan River which runs by the town. Its English name "Gar" means “tents and barracks", because it used to be a military station in the past.
The river banks of Shiquan used to be an area of barren land. When the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway opened for transportation in 1964, military camps and simple public facilities were suddenly emerged. In 1966, the Administration Office of the Ngari Prefecture moved here from Burang and started constructing a town on the barren field. The Gar County government moved here later in 1988.
Nowadays, Gar has become a hub of transportation, economy, culture, and border trade in western Tibet. From the central flower terrace, four straight streets extend to four directions. The southern one is for commercial exchange, while the east and west sit the regional government office buildings. In the north, the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway runs towards the Ritog County and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Settle here you will have a special taste of Tibet culture trip and admire the mysteries of the land. The Gar town is not large, but it is full of vitality and can satisfy all your travel needs in Tibet. Due to water shortage and energy scarcity, the town has to provide water and electricity at certain times everyday.
The Main Attractions in Gar County
Gar, a wonderful and brilliant county famous for its attractive natural and cultural scenery, has dozens of attractions to appeal the visitors including Shiquanhe River（狮泉河）, Gurujia Monastery（古如甲寺）, Zhaxigang Monastery（扎西岗寺）, The Xiage Balin Monastery（格巴林寺）, Sênggê Zangbo, Gar Tsangpo or Gar River, Guola Zesong Peak（郭拉则松峰）and Nacha（纳查 ）, etc.
● Shiquanhe Town: The town gained this name as it sits by the Shiquan River which is the upper reaches of the Indus River. The river banks of Shiquan used to be barren. When the Xinjiang¬Tibet Highway opened for transportation in 1964, military camps and simple public facilities were built. In 1966, the Administration Office of the Ngari Prefecture moved here and started creating a town out of barren field. In 1988, the Gar County government also moved here. "Gar" means "tents." It is so-named because the place used to be a military station. The town sitting at an elevation of 4,255 meters accommodates a population of 12,000.
●Gurujia Monastery: Located in Gar County，Gurujia Monastery（古如甲寺） was founded by the master Jochon - jean - jang-jay（琼钦-·晋美朗嘎多杰） in 1936 AD. The main buildings are Kantong Lakang（卡洞拉康）, Zulacang（祖拉康）, Zangkang（藏康）, and Gadanju Lakang（噶丹居拉康）, etc. There enshrines the stone statue of the Janba Nanka（珍巴南卡） in the monastery and 12 Tangka（唐卡）. In addition, there is also Buddhist pagodas, Bon classics, and dharma-vessel and so on. The monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 1983.The current abbot of the monastery Gelong Danzeng Wangzha（革龙单增旺扎）is a famous Tibetan medicine expert in Ngari area.
● Zhaxigang Monastery（扎西岗寺） is located in a small hill on Zhaxigang Town, Gar County. The monastery which was created by Lada Dacanwa was transformed to Gelug sect in the 17th century, belonging to the sub-monastery of Sera Monastery. The monastery was destroyed during the period of the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 1985.
● The Xiage Balin Monastery（格巴林寺） is located in Gar County with the meaning of atonement in Tibetan language. The monastery is said to be the confession monastery built for Gandan Cewang（甘丹策旺） during the end of his military life. It was once the largest monastery in Ngari area containing with more than 300 monks and 250 houses, with 315 pillars in the largest Zulakang (祖拉康).
● Sênggê Zangbo is the name of the Indus river in Tibetan. It flows through the Ngari Prefecture in Tibet Autonomous Region, China. The capital city of Ngari, Shiquanhe, is also called Sênggêzangbo after the river.
The source of Sênggê Zangbo is within Gêgyai County, Ngari Prefecture, not far from the Mount Kailash.The river drains an area of 27,450 km2, and covers a length of 430 km. Main tributaries include Gar Tsangpo.
● Gar Tsangpo or Gar River is in Ngari, Tibet, China. This river is a tributary of the Sênggê Zangbo (Indus River), which it meets at the town of Shiquanhe. The source is south of Gangdise Range, in Ngari Prefecture. Its course is mainly in the Gar County. The river drains an area of 6,060 square kilometers, and stretches a length of 196 km.
● Guola Zesong Peak（郭拉则松峰） is located at the junction of Gar County and Zanda County, southwest of Gar County. The peak which covers with the perennial snow is 6,112 meters above sea level. There are good natural pastures with yaks, cattle-yak, scalpers and sheep at the foothills.
● Nacha（纳查 ） is also known as Namozha, meaning "black flower mountain". It is located in the southeast of Gar County. The foothills are natural pastures with yaks, cattle-yaks, cattle, sheep, goats, horses and other livestock.
Festivals and Activities in Gar County
Gar Qiaqin Festival
Gar Qiaqin Festival is the most solemn and grandest festival of the year in Ngari Area. From October tenth to fifteenth in Tibetan calendar, there will held Qiaqin Grand Festival for five days. During the festival, there are activities held such as the horse racing, equestrian performances, shooting, and cabaret and goods trade.
Tibetan New Year Festival
The present Tibetan Calendar regards 1027 as the first year of an era. Tibetan New Year Festival is the first day of New Year. Tibetan New Year Festival is the grandest and most solemn festival in Tibet. There is a series of entertainment activities will be held during Tibet New Year Festival. In most prefectures of Tibet, the Tibetan New Year Festival is held on January 1st in Tibetan Calendar. But Tibetan New Year Festival is held on October 1st in Tibetan Calendar in Nyingchi Prefecture, and held on December 1st in Tibetan Calendar in Shigatse Prefecture. The Kongpo District in Eastern Tibet has the custom of spending New Year Festival in summer.
Shoton Festival means "the festival for eating yogurt". It is a festival symbolizes harvest. Since Tibetans will gather in Lhasa to perform Tibetan Opera, it is also named "Tibetan Opera Festival". It is one of the largest festivals of Tibet.
Saga Dawa Festival
In Tibetan Calendar, April 15th is the day when Sakyamuni born, passed away and became Buddha, as well as Princess Wencheng came into Tibet. It is said that Tibetans in every place will circumambulate and worship Buddha on this day. Saga Dawa Festival was with rich religious color in early period. Later, it gradually changed to Mass Park Traveling. Thousands of people will circumambulate Lingkhor. In the afternoon of this day, people who circumambulate will go boating, sing songs and dance in Dragon King Pool. Tibetans in other districts will circumambulate local holy mountains or holy lakes.
The Specialties in Gar County
The wooden bowl in Ngari Prefecture, Tibet is very famous and popular to the tourist. In Ngari, there are a lot manual wooden bowl , general price of the wooden bowl from seven to hundred. And the best could be above one thousand.
Ngari barley wine is brewed from fermented barley grown on the highland. The wine is mild, slightly sweet and sour and contains little alcohol. The taste of alcohol differs from one to another due to the brewing method and duration. It is a very popular alcoholic drink in Tibe
Tibetan Blowing Pork Liver and Lung
Alternate name: Pickled pork liver and lung
Main materials: pork liver and lung
Features: This tasty, cool and appetizing food will be pickled for about one month. It can be taken at any time you want to eat and also it can be stored for a long time.
Directions: Slice up the pickled pork liver and lung after cooking thoroughly. Then add bruised ginger to let it become cold food.
Tibetan Tuba (Dumpling)
Main materials: Flour, stuffing, etc.
Story of Tuba: Tibetan tuba is similar to dumpling. Like the Han people putting coin in the dumpling, there are also pebbles, hot peppers, charcolad, woolen yarn, etc. in tuba. They represent different specific meaningss. The peddle means hard-hartedness; hote pepper, sharp tongue; charcoal, black-heartedness; Woolen yarn, kindess. The Tibetan tuba is usually enjoyed in December, 29 in the lunar month.
The Tibetan Tuba is a kind of recreational food, Since there are peddles, charcoals, etc, in it, please be careful when eating. Spit them out if you get them and share the indication of the coming year.
Buttered tea is the most typical Tibetan drinks. Ghee fragrant and strong tea and salt taste is very special. For the first time try probably drink not to spoil.
Dried meat is very typical of a Tibetan food. At the end of each year, when the temperature is below zero, the Tibetan will cut the beef and mutton into small pieces for beef and mutton, and the hanging in the shade, let it dry naturally. It will done in the coming February and March.
Travel Tips of Gar County
- The best season travel to Gar County: Summer
- It is quite necessary to purchase instant food, such as honey, condensed milk, spices, ship biscuits, canned food, chocolate, fruits (apples), vegetables (such as carrots, cucumbers), drinking water, instant noodles, hams and so forth in Shiquanhe or Purang County beforehand. Do keep to a slow pace and never eat your fill as this will help to save energy and ease the effects of mountain sickness.
- The standard of accommodation in Ngari is poor. Baths are only available in Shiquanhe Town. Hostels, rest houses can be found in the village of Darchen and the lakeside village as well. Temples also provide basic lodging facilities. However, for during the peak season and to allow for unexpected situations, tents and sleeping bags are worthy of consideration.
- It is not advisable to carry all your belongings to worship the Sacred Mountain and the Holy Lake. Pack as little as possible, otherwise you will be too exhausted to enjoy the scenery. Flashlights, matches, anti-cold electuaries, down coats and litter bags should be in your bag. If you want to liberate yourself from luggage, you can hire a porter who can be of great help. The porters usually assemble near hostels and rest houses.
The Transportation in Gar County
Ngarish is with high elevation and harsh natural conditions, there are only one air route Chengdu-Lhasa-Ngarish and only several months suitable for driving.
Ngarish Kunsha airport was opened in 2010, there is only one route Chengdu- Lhasa - Ngarish by Air China in every Tuesday and Friday. It takes two hours from Chengdu to Lhasa, stop 40-50 minutes, and then fly 1 hour 40 minutes from Lhasa to Ngarish. Kunsha Airport is 50 km southwest to Shiquanhe Town, Gar County, where is the location of Ali administrative office. The airport offer free shuttle bus to the Town, it will take you about 1 hour from the airport to Shiquanhe Town.