Gonggar County Overview
Basic Information of Gonggar County
Gonggar County is located in Lhoka Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region with a total area of 2,283 square kilometers. Situated at an average altitude of 3,750 meters, Gonggar County contains notable landmarks such as the Gonggar Choide Monastery, the Gonggar Dzong, and the Gonggar Airport and the Gonggar town.
As the cradle of ancient culture and its enviable position in the rich history of Tibet, Gonggar County has very unique and rich historical monuments, natural geological features such as lake and caves, scenic regions and religiously linked mountains. This county is bounded by the sacred Mount Chuwaru opposite to the Gambala Pass to the south on the route to the holy Yamdrok Lake in west Tibet, on the east to the limits of the Dal Valley on the south bank of the Brahmaputra and Dorje Monastery on the north bank. The county also envelops the southern side valleys of Namrab and Drib counties and the northern side valleys of Leuchung and Trango counties.
Gonggar County Climate
Gonggar County has monsoon climate. It has four climatic seasons with a long winter and hardly any summer season. The average temperature varies from 7.2–8.5 °C (45.0–47.3 °F), with the warmest month average temperature being 15.8 °C (60.4 °F) and the coldest month average temperature is −2.2 °C (28.0 °F). The average annual precipitation is 356.6 millimeters (14.04 in) with 29.9 rainy days. The annual sunshine hours are 3,194 and frost-free period is 142 days. It is subject to natural disasters from frequent storms with 40 days of gale days on an average concentrated in February–April.
Gonggar County Attractions
Cultural Relics in Gonggar County
▪ Dorjezha Monastery（多吉扎寺）, situated on a hilltop, blends well with the rock setting and is named after the rock known as Vraja, the green coloured gemstones found behind the monastery. The literal meaning of ‘Dorjezha’ is “Diamond Hill.” It was initially built on modest lines, on the right bank of the Yarlung River by a wealthy local man known as Doxie Dorje. The monastery was destroyed completely in 1717 during Zungar invasion of this area. It was, however, rebuilt in 1718. Further, the monastery was supported by the Fifth Dalai Lama and consequently, it underwent major improvements and became one of the famous monasteries of Tibet.
▪ Mao Zedong statue(毛泽东塑像）: A large statue of Mao Zedong has been installed in the Gonggar County in Gonggar town. The statue was erected by contributions made by the people of Hunan Province, where Mao was born. The statue, erected in honor of the Chairman Mao, was in gratitude for the people of his hometown. The statue is erected on a 5.16 meters (16.9 ft) pedestal is 7.1 meters (23 ft) tall and weighs 35 tonnes and made in granite. It cost 480,000 yuan (US$60,000).
▪ Gyaideshiu town（杰德秀镇） (also spelt Jiedexiu Town) is famous for the Gyaideshiu 'Bangdian' apron not only among women in Tibet but also is in demand in Nepal, India, Bhutan and Western Europe. The town is located in the county, 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) to its east on the highway towards Zetang. Bangdian" is an apron of China's Tibetan ethnic group with historic heritage of 1,500 years of hand weaving. This weaving technique is designated as "China's state-level intangible cultural heritage."
▪ Tudanremai Monastery（土旦热麦寺）is a key monastery of Sakya sect which is located in Gonggar County. It was once destroyed and began to be repaired in 1986. Now there are more than 40 monks in the monastery with a big scale.
Natural Landscapes of Gonggar County
▪ Quguori Mountain（曲果日山）on the south bank of Qushui Bridge is one of the four sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism, which is known as the "source of happiness in Tibet".
Gonggar County Festivals and Activities
The monastic community (there were 260 lamas in the past, now only 30) perform an annual festival of Mandala rituals from the 6th to the 15th day of the first lunar month, according to the Tibetan Calendar. Over a two-day period, 28 sand Mandalas are created according to the Carya, Yoga and Anuttarayoga Tantras. These are the concise deity cycles according to the Vajrapanjara namely, “the Hevajra tantra, black Hevajra, Hevajra in Dombhi Heruka's tradition, Hevajra in the Tsokye Dorje tradition, Hevajra in the oral instruction tradition, the fifteen goddess cycle of Nairatma, Samvara in Mahasiddha Luipa's tradition, Samvara in Krsnapada's tradition, the five-deity Samvara of Ghantapada, the 37 Varahi form of Samvara, Guhyasamaj-aksobhyavajra, the thirteen deity Bhairava, 49 deity Bhairava, the Vetalaraja form of Bhairava, black Yama, five deity red Yama, thirteen deity red Yama, six faced Yama, Mahamaya, five deity Manjusri, (Rigs gsum rig gtad), (gZa' yum skar yum), nine deity Amitayus, Vidharana in Virupa's tradition, Sarvavid vairocana, Panjara-tara and Vajra-tara”.
On the first day of the ritual, 45 dancers perform a dance known as the 'sun disk' and prepare the ground for depicting the Mandalas. The second day is devoted to preparing the Mandalas. The following seven days, 60 odd dancers perform a hundredfold offering services every day, and a thousandfold offering on the 15th day of the month (full moon) day. The large scroll painting of Shakyamuni is unveiled when white silk scarves are offered by devotees to it. Several types of ritualistic dances are performed by the devotees. Lots of fanfare follows in the form of golden procession, similar to the one held in Lhasa, with offering ceremonies, comprising banners, canopies, streamers, blowing of horns, offering of incense, variety of auspicious symbols and materials, the seven emblems of royalty, the eight auspicious symbols, and the eight substances. In the main assembly hall, "May I become the protector of all sentient beings without exception ..." is chanted. In the afternoon, fire rituals based on the Hevajra tantra are performed, which includes the fire dance by a retinue of the eight goddesses of Hevajra. In the evening, offerings are made to the protectors, followed by a three-day re-consecration ceremony.
Gonggar County Products
The famous apron, which the Tibetan married women wear, is a handicraft of the Gonggar County in the Jiedexiu area and is known as "Jed Show Apron". The county is synonymous with this apron, which has a distinctive and characteristic style and it is produced here for the last 500 or 600 years.
Gonggar County Travel Tips
1. Best Travel Time: June to August
2. High Altitude Precaution. Although Lhoka is at a relatively lower elevation area, some places of high elevation may easily cause altitude reaction. Better take some medicines for relief and keep warm all the time.
3. Prepare Food and Drinks. Since tourists have to spend 8 hours on travelling from Lhasa to Lhoka, you are suggested to get some snacks, fruit and water ready before the long riding journey. Bring your warm cloths and rain gear is always a good idea if you go to Lhoka in summer.
Gonggar County Transportation
Getting to Gonggar County is made easy via the Lhasa Gonggar Airport, located 39 miles from the city of Gonggar and a 40 to 60 minute drive.