Rutok County is also known as “Rutog County”. It was called Rutok Zong in ancient time
Rutok means “shaped like a gun bracket” in Tibetan. It is located in the northwest of Ngari prefecture.
The county seat is Rutok town, it is adjacent to the Hotan area of Xinjiang in north, Gerze County in east, Gegyai County and Gar County in south, and Ladakh in west. The border is 350 kilometers long and there are 3 traditional border trade points.
It is a border county dominated by animal husbandry, semi-agricultural and semi-pastoral. The proportion of animal husbandry is relatively large, and agricultural production is very limited. And the Local products mainly include butter, leather, wool, cattle and cashmere, schizothoracids, oxygymnocypris stewarti.
Best time to travel
Tourism in Rutok County is benefited from Pangong Tso Lake and Rutok Rock Paintings. Immerse yourself in the scenery of blue sky, green waters, the lake and mountains of Pangong Tso Lake. In this “bird world” that can be called the highest one in the world, watching the spectacular scenes of birds spreading their wings and staying at low altitude is definitely a rare visual impact and spiritual enjoyment to those whom live live in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Note: A road leads west for about 60 km to Retso town where to access traditional trade route via Lake Mendong-tso and across Chugu la and Kamar La pass into Ladakh. This route is also thought to be the extreme west part of the Tea-Horse Trading Route.
Most popular sites
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
Lhundrub Chode Monastery was founded by the Drukpa Kunlek and one Gelug pa master Yonten Gyatso with history of over 500 years. The monastery is built on the top of the hill which is about 12 kilometers away from Rutok County. The monastery has a prominent position in the history of Rutok County, coupled with the elegant environment and beautiful scenery, there are many visitors and pilgrims who go to pilgrimage and visit.
Pangtak Tso Lake is located in the northeast of the county with an altitude of 4902 meters and an area of 103 square kilometers. It is a salt lake. The lake is surrounded by natural pastures.
Rutok rock paintings mainly refer to hard stones or other hard objects carved on the rock surface. The line strokes are deep and shallow, and there are a few painted surfaces. The rock paintings cover various vivid production and life scenes of ancient nomads such as grazing, hunting, religious rituals, and farming, as well as sun, moon, mountains, cows, horses, sheep, and people. These rock paintings have great value for studying prehistoric history.
Geography and climate
It is the northern “Gate” to enter Xinjiang from Tibet with size of 80,300 square kilometers. The Karakoram Mountains and Gangdis Mountains traverse the entire territory. The average elevation of this county is 4, 500 meters and the highest elevation is 6,800 meters.
The landform of Rutok County belongs to plateau lake basin with average elevation of 4300 meters. It is a place of cold and hypoxic
Its terrain is high in north and south, low in the middle. Along Pangong Tso Lake – Nujiang fault zone forms a huge water catchment depression with the lowest plateau, and a wide valley or beaded lake basin depression along the fault zone between surrounding mountains.
Rutok County is located in plateau sub-frigid monsoon and semi-arid climate zone. Its climate is with low pressure, strong radiation, cold and dry, and scarce precipitation.
As there is no meteorological observation station in this county, according to meteorological data provided by Shiquanhe Town in the same climate type, the annual average temperature of Rutok County is 0.1℃, average temperature of the coldest month is -22.1℃, and average temperature of the hottest month is 13.6℃.
The frost-free period is 95 days, annual sunshine hours are 3371 hours, annual precipitation is 73 mm, annual evaporation is 2456 mm, and annual average wind speed is 3.2m/s.
Population and ethnicity
As of 2011, the total population of Ritu County is 9485 people, 98% of whom are Tibetan
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Distance from Rutok to
- Gar County : 126 kilometers, about 3 hours drive
- Darchen County : 380 kilometers, about 7.5 hours drive
- KunSha (Gunsa) Airport : 180 kilometers, about 4 hours drive
- Guge Kingdom: 315 kilometers, about 8 hours drive
- Burang County : 470kilometers, about 9 hours drive
- Kashigar : 1180 kilometers, about 24 hours drive
- Lhasa City: 1800 kilometers, about 27 hours drive