Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, referred to as “Garze Prefecture“, is an autonomous prefecture under jurisdiction of Sichuan Province. It is located in west of Sichuan Province and southeastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Garze Prefecture borders Aba Prefecture and Ya’an City in east, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture and Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in south, Chamdo City of Tibet Autonomous Region in west, Yushu Prefecture in the northwest, and Golog Prefecture in north.
Garze Prefecture, commonly known as “Khampa” or “Kham“, is hinterland of the region of Kham. It is the second largest Tibetan area, and the first prefecture-level ethnic autonomous prefecture established in China.
Garze Prefecture is the largest prefecture-level administrative region in Sichuan Province, and is also main pastoral area in Sichuan Province. The grassland area accounts for about 60% of its total land size, and the natural scenery is beautiful. Kangding, the capital of autonomous prefecture, is political, economic and cultural center of Garze prefecture.
Best time to travel
Throughout a year
Continental plateau mountain monsoon climate
Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture has 18 county-level administrative divisions , including 1 county-level city, and 17 counties
Most popular sites
Hailuogou Scenic Area, Hailuogou is located on east slope of Gongga Mountain, Luding County. It is popular for its low-altitude modern glaciers, which is 2850 meters above sea level. It is the highest ice waterfall ever discovered in China with size of 1080 meters high and 0.5 meters to 1100 meters wide. Hailuogou valley contains a large flow of hot and cold mineral springs, and a large area of virgin forest and extremely high icy mountain peaks.
Luding Bridge, also known as the Luding Chain Bridge, is located on Dadu River in Luding County. According to historical record, after Emperor Kangxi of Qing dynasty unified China, he approved construction of this bridge in order to strengthen cultural and economic exchanges in Sichuan-Tibet area. This bridge was built in 1705 AD and completed in 1706 AD. It is a masterpiece of ancient Chinese bridge architecture. It is 103 meters long and 3 meters wide. 13 iron chains are fixed in the wells of bridge abutments on both sides, 9 are used as bottom chains, and 4 are used as handrails on both sides. There are 12,164 iron rings interlocking in total. The iron parts of the whole bridge weigh more than 40 Ton. The ancient castles on both sides of Luding Bridge are traditional wooden ancient buildings, unique to China. Since Qing Dynasty, Luding Bridge has been an important channel for entering Tibet from Sichuan as wellas an important military base
Jiaju Tibetan Village is located in Danba County, about 8 kilometers away from county seat. It is the most distinctive tourist attraction in Danba. In September 2016, it was officially approved as a national 4A-level tourist attraction. “Jiaju” means a hundred families in Tibetan. This Tibetan village extends from Dajin River valley onto the foot of Kapama mountain
Danba Ancient Diaolou(Watching Tower), Danba Diaolou in its heyday were no less than 3000, there are now only 166 ancient Diaolou left, mainly distributed in Suopo village, Puchang village, and Zhonglu village, of which 84 are Suopo, 29 are in Pugeding and 21 in Zhonglu, and there are about 32 scattered in the remaining townships.
The existing Diaolou was first built in Tang Dynasty, the latest were built in Qing Dynasty. These ancient Diaolous have a variety of architectural forms. From its shape, it can be divided into four corners, pentagons, hexagons, octagons, and thirteen corners. But mostly, four-corners Diaolou
Daocheng Yading Scenic Area is located in Daocheng County, bordering Muli County in southeast, Xiangcheng County and Zhongdian County in west, and Litang County in north, covering an area of 7,323 square kilometers. Its elevation is 3750 meters, and the highest elevation in this area is 6032 meters; Most of the time, the weather is clear and the natural scenery is beautiful.
Xinluhai lake, also known as “Yihun Lhatso” in Tibetan, is located at the foot of Trola (Que’er) Mountain in Derge County by the road of Sichuan-Tibet Highway, 108 kilometers away from Garze County and 102 kilometers away from Derge County. It has an altitude of 4,040 meters and an average depth of 10 meters, the deepest is about 15 meters away. The water source is supplied by Trola Mountain glacier and snow melt. The stream flowing out of the lake is one of sources of Cuoqu River.
Gongga Mountain, located at the boundary of Kangding City and Luding County, is main peak of Daxue Mountain of Hengduan Mountains. It is 7556 meters above sea level and is also the highest peak in Sichuan Province. Gongga Mountain is one of the most developed glaciers in China. There are hundreds of glaciers covering an area of 300 square kilometers.
Bagh Mani Wall is located in Sershul County, about 53 kilometers away from county seat. In May 2006, it was listed as a national key cultural relic protection unit. Bagh Mani Wall is 1.7 kilometers long, with an average width of 2-3 meters and a height of 2.5-3.5 meters. It is the longest mani wall in Tibetan areas. There are several pagodas connected by the stone wall at intervals, and with colorful prayer flags covered. There are hundreds of large and small “windows” on both sides of the wall. A variety of stone carved and painted statues of gods and Buddhas are placed in each “window”. It has been 300 years old
Sershul monastery is located in West-district of Sershul County. It is 30 kilometers away from county seat, and 130 kilometers away from Yushu Airport. Sershul monastery covers an area of more than 70 acres and is one of the largest monastery complexes in Garze Prefecture
Dzogchen Monastery is located in Gengda Village, Zhuqing Township of Derge County. It is one of the six major of Nyingma pa of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built in 1685 AD and currently houses more than 500 monks. The management of the monastery is extremely strict.
Katok Monastery is located on the mountainside of Duoni Mountain in Bailonggou, Hepo District of Pelyul County, about 51 kilometers north of county seat and adjacent to Derge. It is one of the six major monasteries of Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism
Palpung Monastery is located on a hill 300 meters north of Babang Township in Maixu valley of Derge County, with altitude of 3800 meters above sea level, and is a key cultural relics protection unit in Sichuan Province. It is major monastery of Kagyu pa of Tibetan Buddhism in Kham, and it is also known as the two major resorts of Kagyu pa along with Tsurphu monastery in Tibet.
Derge Printing House, also known as “Derge Barkang” or “Derge Parkhang“, founded in 1729 AD, is located in the Cultural Street of Derge County (Gengqing Town).
Its total area is about 5,000 square meters, the building covers an area of nearly 3,000 square meters, its total construction area is more than 9,000 square meters,
Dawu White Pagoda was founded in 1988. It took several years and cost millions. It was completed in 1991. It is located in southeast of Dawu County and is a landmark building of Dawu County.
Huiyuan Temple, also known as “Gatar Shangbaling” in Tibetan, is a Gelug pa monastery of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located in Xiede Township about 6 kilometers north of Bamei township. It was built in 1729 AD and was built by central government of Qing dynasty with special funds for the 7thDalai Lama to avoid Dzungar Rebellion. Huiyuan Temple covers an area of 500 acres and has three layers of walls inside. 11th Dalai Lama of Khedrup Gyatso was born here. Since then, Huiyuan Temple has had a deep influence in Tibetan areas
Om Jia Monastery, originally a monastery of Bon religion, was later converted to Nyingma pa. Because there are 108 characters “Om” (the first word in the six-character mantra of Buddha – Om ma ni pad me hum) formed naturally on the walls around this monastery, hence, it was named “Om Jia Monastery”, which means monastery with a hundred “Om”
Geography and climate
Garze Prefecture is about 663 kilometers from north to south and 490 kilometers from east to west. Its total area is 153,000 square kilometers, accounting for 31.76% of total area of Sichuan Province.
The landform of Garze Prefecture is divided into three types: plateau, mountain plain, and alpine valley.
Plateaus and hilly plateaus appear farthest from main rivers; Alpine valleys are formed where main rivers flow; Transitional landform of mountain plateau is in between
Garze Prefecture is located in northern section of Hengduan Mountains, in the transition zone between Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Sichuan Basin. Among them, there are 5 high mountains over 6000 meters above sea level, and more than 200 peaks over 5000 meters above sea level. The mountain area reaches 120,000 square kilometers, accounting for 78.4% of the total area of Garze prefecture.
To north: it is a branch of Bayan Har Mountains, presenting a hilly plateau.
To south: it is Shaluli Mountain Range of Hengduan Mountains, which belongs to high mountain gorge (deep) valley region. It is the watershed between Jinsha River and Yalong River. The mountains stretch for more than 500 kilometers, and ridges are mostly over 5500 meters. Among of which, Mt Trola is 6,168 meters, Litang Genye Mountain is 6,204 meters (2nd highest peak in Garze prefecture).
To east: it is the Daxue Mountain Range, which is the watershed between Yalong River and Dadu River. The mountains stretch for more than 300 km, and ridges are mostly about 5000 meters above sea level. Among them, the main peak of Gongga Mountain is 7556 meters above sea level, and there are 39 surrounding peaks with an elevation of more than 6000 meters. .
Topography of Garze Prefecture slopes from northwest to southeast, high in north and low in south, with a Towering central part, deep in southeast edge, parallel mountains and rivers, and modern glaciers developed.
The ground has an average elevation of 3,500 meters, the highest peak of Gongga Mountain is 7,556 meters, and Dadu River Valley on its east slope is 1,200 meters above sea level. The horizontal distance is only 29 kilometers, and the relative elevation difference is 6,400 meters.
The average altitude of ground is 3,500 meters; The highest peak of Gongga Mountain is 7556 meters; Dadu River Valley on its east slope is 1200 above sea level with horizontal interval only 29 kilometers; the relative height difference is 6400 meters.
Simply speaking, Garze Prefecture is low temperature, long winters, little precipitation and sufficient sunshine.
The geographic latitude of Garze Prefecture belongs to subtropical climate zone. Due to strong uplift, complex topography and deep inland, most areas have lost characteristics of subtropical climate, forming a continental plateau mountain monsoon climate, with significant regional differences.
Garze Prefecture spans 6 latitudes from north to south. As latitude increases from south to north, temperature gradually decreases. Within the range of 6 latitudes, average annual temperature varies by more than 17°C. Average temperature throughout this vast area is 0.6°C-16.3°C.
In the area of high mountain and deep valley, the height difference between bottom of valley and top of mountain is huge, the climate also changes with the height, temperature difference can even reach a difference of 20℃-30℃.
The highest temperature (hilly plateau area and central alpine plains) is below 30℃; the lowest temperature (most areas) is below -14℃, and most of the northern areas and the southern high-altitude areas such as Litang and Daocheng are below -20 Below ℃, Sershul can reach as low as -37.7℃,
Total annual precipitation is 418-936 mm, annual sunshine hours are 1900-2600 hours, and average frost days in a years are 18-228 days, and there is no absolute frost-free period.
There are many rivers and lakes in Garze Prefecture. The main rivers flowing through in this prefecture are Jinsha River, Yalong River, and Dadu River. They are main tributaries of upper reaches of Yangtze River. They mainly originate from Bayan Har Mountains. Among them:
—Jinsha River in west is boundary river between Garze Prefecture of Sichuan Province and the three provinces of Qinghai, Tibet and Yunnan. Its main stream is more than 650 kilometers long with annual flow of about 17.2 billion cubic meters, and its basin area is about 40,000 square kilometers. It flows through Sershul, Derge, Baiyu, Batang, Derong and other counties into Yunnan province
—Yalong River in middle runs through entire Ganzi Prefecture from north to south. Its main stream is more than 850 miles long with annual flow of approximately 31.62 billion cubic meters, and its basin area is about 90,000 square kilometers. It flows through Sershul, Garze, Xinlong, Litang, Yajiang, Kangding, Jiulong and other cities and counties into Sichuan Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture;
—Dadu River in east flows through eastern Garze Prefecture, its main stream is more than 239 kilometers long with annual flow of about 15.38 billion cubic meters, and its basin area is about 20,000 square kilometers. It flows through Serta, Danba, Kangding, Luding and other counties into Ya’an, Sichuan.
Population and ethnicity
As of end of 2019, population of Garze Prefecture is 1.199 million, of which Tibetan population accounts for 78.3% of total population.
Other ethnic groups include Han, Yi, Qiang, Miao, Hui, Mongolian, Tujia, Lisu, Manchu, Yao, Dong, Naxi, Buyi, Bai, Zhuang, Dai…., 25 ethnic groups in total
–Airports in Garze Prefecture–
IATA Code: KGT
Altitude: 4,238 meters
Daocheng Yading Airport
IATA code: DCY
Altitude: 4,411 meters
IATA Code: GZG
Altitude: 4,067 meters
In ancient times, it was land of Qiang tribe and Rong tribe
In Han Dynasty, Rudu County was established in this land, and was under jurisdiction of Shenli County.
During Three Kingdoms (220 AD – 280 AD), Shu Kindom called this land “Dartsodo (now, it is called “Kangding”)”
During Sui Dynasty (581 AD – 618 AD), Qiang tribes who migrated to this territory were successively attached to central government
During Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD) , Jilin Zhou was established in this land, and was under jurisdiction of Military governor of Jiannan.
Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), Jialiang Prefecture was set up in area of Garze prefecture
In Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD), “Native chieftain system” was promoted in the prefecture. It was the land of Mdo-khams and was ordered by central govermentcourt.
In 5th year of Emperor Yongle of Ming Dynasty (AD 1407), This area was awarded title of “Changhe Xiyutong Ningyuan High Pacification Commissioner’s Office”
In 8th year of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty (1730 AD), “Dartsodo Hall” was set up.
In 1904, “Dartsodo Hall” was upgraded to Kangding Mansion,
In 1906, Policy of “Gaitu Guiliu — Administrative Regularization” was implemented, chieftain system was abolished, and “Chuanbian Dao(County)” was established.
Gaitu Guiliu, also known as “conversion of chieftain system” or “conversion of abandoning chieftain system”, refers to abolition of chieftain who originally ruled ethnic minorities. Instead, officials appointed by the central government. It began in Emperor Yongle’s period at the beginning of Ming Dynasty and was implemented on a large scale during Emperor Yongzheng’s period of Qing Dynasty.
In 1914, it belonged to Special Region of Chuanbian, which was later changed to “Chuanbian Dao(County)”
In 28th year of Republic of China (1939), Xikang was established as a province with provincial capital in Kangding (Dartsodo)
In 1950, Tibetan Autonomous Region of Xikang Province was established
In 1955, Tibetan Autonomous Region of Xikang Province was changed to Xikang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in the same year, it was renamed as “Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture”, and was under jurisdiction of Sichuan Province.
In 2015, Kangding County was abolished and the county level – Kangding City was established, with former administrative area of Kangding County as administrative area of Kangding City. It is placed under jurisdiction of GarzeTibetan Autonomous Prefecture