Ngari Prefecture, also known as “Ali area”, is located in the core area of the Qiang-tang Plateau in the northern part of the Tibet Plateau. It is one of the least densely populated areas in the world, and there is a unique natural features of the plateau. The regional administrative office is located in Shiquanhe Town, Gar County. It was called “Yang-tong” Around AD, and then it was called “Nali” in Yuan Dynasty and “E-li-si” in Ming Dynasty.
Ngari Prefecture is the place where the Himalayas and Gangdise mountains rise. At the same time, it is also the birthplace of the Yarlung Tsangpo, Indus river, and Ganges.
The word “Ngari” is a Tibetan transliteration, meaning “territory”, or “dependency” etc. Until the beginning of the 9th century, it was still called “Shangshung kingdom”. In Chinese historical records, it was called differently in different dynasties
In ancient Tibetan books, the descendants of Tsenpo (meaning “king”) of the Tubo Dynasty came to this political area originally belonging to the Eighteen Divisions of Shangshung. This “upper” area was truly subject to the jurisdiction of the descendants of Tsenpo, hence it is called “Ngari”.
Note: The west is usually regarded as “Upper land”, the east is “Lower land”
Best time to travel
From July to September
Most popular sites
Kailash mountain is the best known sacred mountain in Tibet, situated at an altitude of 6,656 meters above sea level. The peak is in the shape of a circular cone, capped with white snow all year round. Buddhists worship it as a sacred mountain, and each year numerous pilgrims come here from afar. The cora of Kailash mountain is about 55 kilometers. Pilgrims also come from neighboring countries such as India and Nepal.
Lake Manasarovar stands some 30 km south from Kailash mountain, covers an area of 412 square kilometers. The deepest spot is 77 meters. The lake is surrounded by quiet and beautiful snow-capped mountains. According to a legend, Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, was born in the Year of the Horse. In each Year of the Horse, gods gather around the sacred mountain and lake. It is said that walking around the mountain in the Year of the Horse can increase accumulated merits by 12 fold. So, in the Year of the Horse, more Tibetans worship sacred mountain; and if one goes to the sacred mountain, one must go to the sacred lake”, has become of folk custom. All pilgrims wash their bodies, heads, faces and eyes using the lake water to remove disaster and diseases. Some even carry jars to bring water back as gifts to their relatives and friends.
Choku Gompa, also known as “Qugu Gompa”, was built on the cliff which faces Mt Kailash. Because the main offering of this temple is Qugu (Choku) Buddha statue which the ultimate fruit-position dharma body formed by natural generation and practice, so that it is called Qugu Gompa. Qugu Buddha statues are still enshrined in this historic temple. In addition, the temple also enshrines the Sakyamuni, and Kangyur
Guge Kingdomhas a history of more than a thousand years. From the 10th century to the 17th century, the Guge Dynasty played an important role after the Tubo Dynasty in Tibet. There are 1,416 cave dwellings, houses, towers, ancient pagodas and other remnants of the ruins of the Guge Kingdom, including 879 cave dwellings, 445 house remains, 60 watchtowers, 28 broken towers of various types, and 4 secret underground path.
The better preserved are the Red Temple and the White Temple. There are sculptures and colorful murals and paintings inside. The content includes social life, religious stories, portraits of kings, etc. In 1961, the Guge Kingdom site was listed as a national key cultural relics protection unit by the State Counci
Drirapuk Monastery , also known as “Zhirepu Monastery”, is at the southern foot of the Zhonglong (a place where wild yaks appear), which is right opposite to the north of Mt Kailash. This monastery was founded by Gotsangpa who the master of Kagyu pa.
Zutrul Puk Monastery, also known as “Zunchuipu Monastery”, is on the east of Mt Kailash by the Kailash cora trekking route. The main enshrined in the temple are the silver statues of Mirarepa, as well as the statues of Nyalalamba, the Supreme Rejongpa, the Great Achiever Zangpa Rey, the master Ngawang Lange, etc., as well as many scriptures, stupas and Highland-barley grains blessed by the master Zangba Rey.
Toling monastery is located on the Xiangquan River (Langqen Tsangpo) in the northwest of Zanda County. It is the first Buddhist temple built by the Guge Kingdom in the Ngari area. The monastery was built in 996 AD and includes three parts: the hall, the monk’s house and the Pagoda area. There are many exquisite murals painted on the walls of its White Hall. Its architecture is a fusion of the local Tibetan, Indian and Nepalese architectural styles. It was listed as a national key cultural relics protection unit
Cave ruins of Piang and Dongga villages is located 62 kilometers north of Zanda county. It is by far the largest Buddhist cave site ever discovered in China. The murals in the caves have a long history with rich contents including Buddha statues, Bodhisattva statues, Buddhist stories, Buddhist lecturing, etc., as well as various decorative patterns and Esoteric Buddhism Mandalas.
Zanda Soil Forest is a special combination of landforms. The canyon zone centered on Zamu Town is the most typical and also the largest. It reflects the lake sedimentary characteristics left by the violent uplift of the plateau in the Zanda Basin in the lower Pleistocene of the Quaternary Period. It was listed as a National Geopark in 2005.
Pangong Tso Lake is located about 13 kilometers north of the county seat. It is about 110 kilometers long from east to west, with an average width of about 4 kilometers from north to south. The lake area is 604 square kilometers, of which 413 square kilometers is in China side, the lake is 4241 meters above sea level, and the maximum water depth is 41.3 meters. The scenery on Pangong Tso Lake is fascinating. The plateau bird island is in the lake. From May to September every year, the bird island of Pangong Tso Lake becomes one of the best bird-watching spots in Tibet
Lake Manasarovar, 15 kilometers south from Hor village. The lake is 4587 meters above sea level, the depth of the lake is 77 meters, and the water area is more than 400 square kilometers. It is the highest freshwater lake in the world. In Buddhist scriptures, only one lake is called the “mother of the rivers of the world”, referring to Lake Manasarovar. The Tibetan language of Manasarovar is “the invincible lake”.
There are 7 counties under the jurisdiction of Ngari Prefecture
How to get to there
Years ago, the road to Alo was all dirt, and bumpy road. It usually takes 3 – 4 days to travel from Lhasa to Ngari on way; In summer time, the countless streams or rivers may form up flood to wash up the only dirt road, and block the traffic and making Ngari an isolated Island on Land.
Ever since 2005, the construction of paved road has begun, after many years hard work, the black paved road has been completed and successfully to shorten the long distance travel to a pleasant overland journey. Further to that, follow the completion of Ngari Kunsha Airport, the travel from Lhasa to Ngari can now be done within 2 hour
Ngari Kunsha Airport
Add: Gar Xian, Ngari
IATA Code: NGQ
Altitude: 4,270 meters
Contact: +86 897 2891888
Ngari Bus Station
Address: Opposite the Ngari Post Office,
Contact: +86 897 2826591
Altitude: 4,300 meters
Working hours: 07:00 am – 17:30 pm
Geography and climate
The Ngari region is bordered by the Hotan region in the north, Nagqu City in the east, Shigatse City in the southeast, and Nepal, India, and Kashmir in the southwest and west. It is the second largest prefecture after Nagqu City.
The Ngari area is 742 kilometers from east to west and 688 kilometers from north to south, covering an area of 337,200 square kilometers. The main mountain ranges are the Himalayas, Gangdise, and Karakoram.
The south and southwest are deep valleys; The terrain in the east and northwest is relatively flat, forming wide valleys and endless grassland and Gobi.
The general topographical feature is that the plateau is ascending successively from south to north, while the main ridgeline of the major mountain ranges gradually decreases. The highest point is Namunani Peak in Burang County, with an elevation of 7694 meters and the lowest point is in the Langqen Tsangpo River Valley in Zanda county with elevation of 2,800 meters and a maximum relative elevation difference of 4,894 meters.
Ngari Prefecture borders Nepal, India, and Kashmir, with a length of border line of 1,170 kilometers. The average altitude is 4500 meters. The Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers all originated here. The water area is 12,418 square kilometers, and the total length of the river is 9089 kilometers.
Ngari Prefecture belongs to the second-class wind area. The annual average wind speed is above 3.2 meters per second, the frequency of gale is as high as level 8, and the number of annual gale days is about 149 days. The annual average temperature is 0℃, and the daily average temperature varies greatly. Shiquanhe Town has low temperature and severe cold all year round in winter, and the annual average temperature is less than zero. Shiquanhe Town has an extreme minimum temperature of -41 degrees in winter and an extreme maximum temperature of 21 degrees in summer. The temperature difference between day and night is quite large, and the annual temperature difference is small. In places above 5000 meters above sea level, the temperature during the daytime in August is above 10°C, while the temperature at night drops below 0°C.
Its annual rainfall is quite small and seasonal. From October to April of the following year, precipitation only accounts for 10% to 20% of the annual rainfall. From May to September, the rainfall is very concentrated, generally accounting for more than 80% of the annual rainfall.
Population and ethnicity
As of 2010, the population of Ngari area was 95,465, of which the Tibetan population accounted for 91.65%; the Han population accounted for 7.72%; other ethnic minorities accounted for 0.63%, including a total of 27 ethnic groups: Hui, Uygur, Tujia, Bai, Miao, Yi, Salar, Mongolian, Dongxiang, Zhuang, Dong, Tu, Monba, Buyi, Manchu, Hani, Shui, Naxi, Baoan, Dai, Li, Wa, Lahu, Mulao, Uzbek Family.
Recommended Hotels in Ali
Ali Grand Hotel
Add: Shi Quan He East Road
Contact: +86 897 2666666
Xiang Xiong Hotel
Add: The middle section of Bin He South Road
Contact: +86 897 2830888
Shuang Fu Business Hotel
Add: No. 5, Shan Xi West Road
Contact: +86 897 2826966
Zang Yuan Business Hotel
Add: The 4th section, Wen Hua Road
Contact: +86 0 18689076889