Zanda County, also known as “Tsamda County“, means “a place where there is grass downstream” in Tibetan.
Zanda County is located in Xiangquan River (Langqen Tsangpo) Basin in western Tibet. It is one of border counties of Tibet Autonomous Region. It was originally the territory of Zaparang Zong and Daba Zong which were merged in October 1956, and then Zanda Zong office was established, following Zanda County was established in 1960.
The size of Zanda County is of 24,602 square kilometers. The County seat is Tolin Town which is 3700 meters above sea level, and 1760 kilometers away west from Lhasa.
Aila Riju Mountain is boundary mountain between Zanda County and Gar County. It is covered with snow all year round, with glaciers, and the foothills are natural pastures. It is a paradise for yaks and sheeps.
The ruins of Guge kingdom is just 30 kilometers from Tolin, which is national key cultural relics under protection; On both sides of Xiangquan River (Langqen Tsangpo), there are forests of soil mountains, winding for dozens of miles, forming a unique geomorphic structure. There are more than 400 caves left by ancestors of Tibetan in the soil forests, forming an ancient building group.
Best travel time
From July to October
Plateau sub-frigid arid climate zone
Most popular sites
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 violent uplift of plateau in Zanda Basin in lower Pleistocene of Quaternary Period. It was listed as a National Geopark in 2005.
Guge Kingdom have a history of more than a thousand years. From 10th century to 17th century, Guge Dynasty played an important role after Tubo Dynasty in Tibet. There are 1,416 cave dwellings, houses, towers, ancient pagodas and other remnants of Guge Kingdom ruins, including 879 cave dwellings, 445 house remains, 60 watchtowers, 28 broken towers of various types, and 4 secret underground path.
The better preserved are Red Temple and White Temple. There are sculptures and colorful murals and paintings inside. The content includes social life, religious stories, portraits of kings, etc. In 1961, Guge Kingdom was listed as a national key cultural relics protection unit
Tolin monastery is located on the bank of Xiangquan River (Langqen Tsangpo) in the northwest of Zanda County. It is the first Buddhist temple built by Guge Kingdom in 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 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.
Geography and climate
Zanda County borders India to west and south, Kashmir to north, Rutok County and Gar County to north and northeast, and Burang County to east. Toling Village, the county seat, is 115 kilometers south of Gar (Shiquanhe) Town, where the administrative office of Ngari Prefecture is located.
The terrain of Zanda County is low in south and high in north, with a height difference of 1,500 meters. Zanda County belongs to plateau sub-frigid arid climate zone, with long sunshine hours, thin air, dry and windy.
There are 14 rivers in Zanda County, of which the second big river in Ngari, Xiangquan River (Langqen Tsangpo), crosses through the county. Xiangquan River originates from the west side of Mt Kailash. It is one of source rivers of Indus River, and also the source river of Sutlej River in India, covering an area of 22,760 square kilometers.
Population and ethnicity
As of 2010, Zanda County has a population of 6,883 people, making it the country’s least populous county, with an average of only 0.25 people per square kilometer. Among them, 98% are Tibetans, and with a small number of Han people and Hui people