Shigatse or Rikaze (official spelling: Xigazê; other spellings: Rìkāzé (Rikaze), Shigatse, Shikatse, Zhigatsey ), Tibetan: གཞིས་ཀ་རྩེ་, is a county-level city and the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China, with a population of 80,000 about 250 km southwest of Lhasa. It is the administrative centre of modern Xigazê County in the Xigazê Prefecture, a region of Tibet.
The city is located at an altitude of 3,840 metres (approx. 12,598 feet) at the confluence of the Yarlung Zangbo (aka Brahmaputra) and Nianchuhe (Nyang Chu) rivers in west Tibet and was the ancient capital of Ü-Tsang province. It is also the name of the surrounding county.
Shigatse was previously known as Samdruptse and the once-imposing Shigatse Dzong, or fort, (dismantled during the popular uprising of 1959), was the seat of the kings of Ü-Tsang and the capital of the province of Ü-Tsang or Tsang. In the 19th century the "Tashi" or Panchen Lama had temporal power over Tashilhunpo Monastery and three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by two Dzongpön (Prefects) appointed from Lhasa. There were two Dzongpöns for every Dzong - a lama (Tse-dung) and a layman. They were entrusted with both civil and military powers and are equal in all respects, though subordinate to the generals and the Chinese Amban in military matters.
The imposing castle, Samdrubtse Dzong, originally built in 1363, was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Recently, between 2005 to 2007, the building was reconstructed, financed by donations from Shanghai. The basis of the reconstruction were old photos, yet reconstruction was executed in cement/concrete. Afterwards, the outside was to be wainscotted with natural stones. The dzong which, in the 17th century, clearly was taken as example when the Potala palace was constructed in Lhasa, will become a museum on Tibetan culture.
Nearby attractions include:
It is expected that the Qinghai-Tibet railway will be extended to Shigatse by 2010.
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