Litang Town

Litang Town (also Lithang, ; Chinese: 高城镇; Pinyin: Gāochéng Zhèn) is the administrative centre of Litang County in the southwest of the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province of China.

The county in 2001 had a population of 47,500. Several famous Buddhist figures were born here, including the Kelzang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso, the 10th Dalai Lama, four of the Pabalas, and has strong connections with the epic hero Gesar of Ling, as well as the 5th Jamyang Xaiba of Labrang.

Litang Town is located at an altitude of 4,014 metres (13,169 ft) among open grasslands and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Its actual altitude is about 400 metres higher than Lhasa, making it one of the highest towns in the world . The town itself is centred just to the south of the Ganden Thubchen Choekhorling or Litang Chöde Monastery.

The monastery was built by Sonam Gyatso (1543 – 1588), the 3rd Dalai Lama in 1580 after the king of Lithang, who ruled the region as defacto independent ruler, switched allegiance from the Kagyupa to the Gelugpa, while they were still warring with each other.

During the 1950s the region around Litang was one of the main areas of Tibetan armed resistance to the Chinese occupation. A resistance group called "Four Rivers, Six Ranges" was active in the area. In 1956 the monastery was bombed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

There are hot springs just 4 km from the centre of town on the western outskirts.

In August, 2007, a horse-racing festival at Litang was the scene of an impromptu anti-government political speech by Runggye Adak, which was followed by protests calling for his release including 200 people who went to the police station but were allowed to leave unharmed. A crackdown officially described as "patriotic education campaign" followed in autumn of 2007, including several politically motivated arrests and attempts to force local Tibetans to denounce the Dalai Lama.


Further reading

  • Tsering Shakya: The Dragon in the Land of Snows. A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947, London 1999, ISBN 0-14-019615-3
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