Nangchen

Nangchen is located in the most southern part of Qinghai Province, neighboring the Tibetan Chamdo district. Total population stands as 60,415, and 98% of whom are Tibetans. It was formerly one of the five independent kingdoms of Eastern Tibet (Kham). Nangchen was spared from the onslaught of Gushri Khan's armies in the 17th century, mainly due to the nomadic lifestyle of its inhabitants and the harsh terrain quite inhospitable for settlement. There are only a few lower sheltered areas where cultivated fields are found. Against the backdrop of vast grasslands, dramatic limestone and sandstone cliffs and immaculate nature reserves, Nangchen is one of the most interesting and uncontaminated parts of Kham. The capital is at Sharda, 193km from Yushu (Jyekundo) via Ke La, 160km from Zurmang Dutsitil and 189km from Riwoche. There are about 78 monasteries in Nangchen, among them His Eminence Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche's Tshechu Monastery, His Eminence Satrul Rinpoche's Trulshik Monastery and Jamme Monastery which is managed by His Eminence Jamme Choesin and His Eminence Jamme Lhamchok Rinpoche are the more revered monastic institutions of the Drukpa Lineage.

Nangchen has been a stronghold of the Drukpa Lineage, due to the great influence of His Eminence the late Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche and his predecessors.

A BRIEF BACKGROUND OF KHAM (East Tibet)

For a relatively detail map of Kham, please click here

Amdo and Kham are generally considered to be the two Tibetan ‘provinces’ that made up Eastern Tibet. Amdo now forms a part of the three present-day provinces - the bulk of Qinghai, the southewestern edge of Gansu and the northernmost grassland of Sichuan. The western part of Kham consists more or less of what is now the Chamdo district of Tibetan Autonomous Region, the northern Kham lies in Qinghai's Yushu , its southernmost part is in Sichuan's Muli, and Yunnan's Dechen (Chi. Deqing or Zhongdian).

The region of Kham was traditionally known as chuzhi gangdruk, i.e. 'four rivers and six ranges'. The four rivers are: the Salween (Tib. Ngul-chu, Chi. Nu jiang), the Mekong (Tib. Da-chu, Chi. Lancang-jiang), the Yangtze (Tib. Dri-chu, Chi. Chang jiang), and the Yalong (Tib. Dza-chu/Nya-chu, Chi. Yalong-jiang). The six highland ranges which form the watersheds for these river systems are the Tsawagang range (5100-6700m) which includes the fabled snow peaks and glaciers of Mount Kawa Karpo (6702m) and which lies between the Salween and the Mekong; the Markhamgang range (Chi. Ningjing Shan 5100-5700m) which lies between the Mekong and the Yangtze; the Zelmogang range (4800-5400m) between the northern reaches of Yangtze and Yalong; the Poborgang range (4800-5600m) lies between the southern Yangtze and the lower Yalong; the Mardzagang (5100-5700m) occupying the area between the upper Yalong and the Yellow River; and lastly the Minyak Rabgang range (4800-7750m) including Mount Minyak Gangkar (7756m), the highest mountain in Kham, which lies between the lower Yalong and the Gyarong.

Since the disintegration of the Tibetan Yarlung Dynasty following the death of King Langdarma (the infamous king who destroyed Buddhism in the 10th century), for most part of their history, the kingdoms and tribal confederations of Kham, whether nomadic or sedentary, until the last century had aggressively maintained their independence from Lhasa and were always at war with each other. In recent history, the most important states in Kham were the five kingdoms of Chakla, Derge, Lingtsang, Nangchen and Lhathok, ruled by hereditary kings (Tib. gyalpo); the five agricultural states of Trehor Drango, Kangsar, Mazur, Trewo and Beri, ruled by hereditary chieftains (Tib. ponpo); the nomadic clans of Dzachuka, Nyarong, Sangen, Gonjo and Khyungpo, also ruled by hereditary chieftains; the southern states of Batang, Litang, Markham, Tsawarong and Powo, governed by Lhasa-appointed regents; and the western states of Chamdo, Drayab, Riwoche, Gyarong and Mili, governed by aristocratic lamas.

Today, the 47 counties of Kham are included in the four provinces, namely Tibet Autonomous Region, Yunnan, Qinghai and Sichuan.

There are many sacred sites in Kham, blessed by Padmasambhava who concealed many terma teachings in many places, particularly in the great twenty-five power places, which have primary and secondary affinities with either Buddha's body, speech, mind, attributes or activities. A few of them are in Nangchen - Khala Rongo (secondary site for Buddha's attributes); Nabun Dzong (secondary site for Buddha's mind); and Khandro Bundzong in lower Nangchen (secondary site for Buddha's attributes).

The renowned Khampagar Monastery, abode of the successive reincarnations of Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoches, is located in Lhathok (Chi. Latuo), one of the five formerly independent kingdoms of Kham, presently within the Chamdo prefecture. Khampagar Monastery, also known as Phuntsok Chokhor Ling, was founded by the Third Khamtrul Rinpoche Ngawang Kunga Tenzin (1680 - 1728), under the patronage of the local king Og Lhathok. From here, the Drukpa Lineage flourished. Tshechu Monastery and its various branches are actually branches of Khampagar Monastery.

The people of Kham, or Khampa, are very different from other Tibetans, not only by their robust physique, colorful dress and braided coiffure, but also their dialects and social customs.

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