Guge was an ancient kingdom in Western Tibet. The kingdom was centered in present-day Zanda County, within Ngari Prefecture of Tibet. At various points in history after 10th century A.D, the kingdom held sway over a vast area including south-eastern Zanskar, Upper Kinnaur, and Spiti valley either by conquest or as tributaries. The ruins of Guge are located westwards from Lhasa within the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, not too far from Mount Kailash.

Guge was founded in the 10th century. Its capitals were located at Tholing and Tsaparang. Its founder was the great-grandson of Glang Darma, the last king of the Tibetan kingdom of Tubo. This king's eldest son became ruler of Mar-yul (Ladakh), and his two younger sons ruled western Tibet, founding the Kingdom of Guge and Pu-hrang. At a later period the king of Guge's eldest son Kor-re, also called Byang-Chub Ye-shes 'Od, became a Buddhist monk. He was responsible for inviting Atisha to Tibet in 1040, and thus ushering in the so called Phyi-dar phase of Buddhism in Tibet. The younger son, Srong-nge, was responsible for day-to-day governmental affairs; it was his sons who continued the royal dynasty.

The first Westerners to reach Guge were a Jesuit missionary António de Andrade and his brother, Manuel Marques, in 1626. De Andrade reported seeing irrigation canals and rich crops in what is now a dry and desolate land.

Perhaps as evidence of the kingdom's openness, de Andrade's party was allowed to construct a chapel in Tsaparang and instruct the people about Christianity. This decision might have brought Guge to its end. Some accounts{[specify}} relate that the king's brother, a staunch Buddhist, called Ladakhis to overthrow the ruler, who had converted to Christianity along with his queen. It is believed that the Ladakhi army slaughtered most of the people of Guge, about 200 of whom managed to survive and fled to Qulong.

Western archeologists heard about Guge again in the 1930s through the work of Italian Giuseppe Tucci. Tucci's work was mainly about the frescoes of Guge.


The following lists some of the known rulers:

See also


Specific references: General references:

  • Allen, Charles. (1999) The Search for Shangri-La: A Journey into Tibetan History. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: 2000 Abacus Books, London. ISBN 0-349-111421.

External links

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