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Gyantze (also Tsedang or Tsethang) is an agricultural town situated in the Nyang Chu valley 254km south-west of Lhasa, in central Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Gyantze was the capital of Yarlung and, as such, a place of great importance. It still retains the charm of a traditional Tibetan town untouched by modern expansion and is worth a visit for this reason alone. It made world headlines in 1904 when Colonel Younghusband, who led a British expedition to Tibet, defeated the Tibetan army there. As a crossroads on the principle trade route to India, Gyantse used to be renowned for the excellence of its wool carpets, and in fact is still a hub today for those seeking quality Tibetan carpets. If there was a settlement located in Gyantse before the 14th century, there are no conclusive historical records documenting its existence. However, between the 14th and 15th centuries the town emerged as the center of a fielfdom with powerful connections to the Buddhist Sakyapa order.

It is at an elevation of 3,100 metres and has a population of about 52,000. It is only about 4 km to the northeast of the town of Nêdong but they have now basically merged into one city. It is situated near the flank of Mount Gongbori and is home to the ruins of the ancient Gajiu Monastery. It is known as the cradle of Tibetan's civilization. Samye, Tibet's first monastery, is located 30 km from Tsedang and was founded in 779 CE by King Trisong Detsen.

The 14th century monastery of Gyantze, Ganden Chæzskhorling, was originally Kagyupa but was taken over by the Gelugpas in the 18th century. It was destroyed by the Chinese but has been restored since. Ngamchæzs is also a Gelugpa monastery and contains the bed and throne of the Dalai Lama and has a chapel devoted to medicine. The Samten Ling and Drebuling monasteries of the Sakyas still remained in 1959 but have since been destroyed and mostly built over. There is, however, the reconstructed Gelugpa Sang-ngag Zimche Nunnery, in the ruins of Samten Ling with a 1000-armed statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) said to have been made by Emperor Songtsan Gampo (605 or 617 - 649 CE). The town supposedly dates back to the founding of the Gyantze Gompa in 1351 which became an important centre of learning.

One of three caves in the mountainside to the east of the town is said to be the birthplace of the Tibetan people who resulted from the mating of a monkey and a beautiful cannibal ogress. About 5 km south of Zêtang is Changzhug Monastery founded during the reign of Songtsen Gampo and about 10 km further is Yumbulagang which, according to legend, was built as a palace for the first king, Nyatri Tsenpo, and was the first building in Tibet. There are several hotels and a guesthouse.

Must-see Attractions:
Gyantse KumbumCommissioned by Rabten Kunsangm, a Gyantse prince in 1440, the Kumbum is the largest stupa (Buddhist religious monument) in all of Tibet. Today the Kumbum is still one of Tibet's most famous and impressive sites.

Pelkor Chode Monastery修道院
Pelkor Chode Monastery is situated in the west of Gyantse. Founded in 1418, Pelkor Chode was once a multi-denominational complex of monasteries, but today, much of the sprawling courtyard, enclosed by walls that cling to the hills backing on to the monastery, is bare and the remaining structures are attended to by Geluga monks, the only sect that survived the Cultural Revolution.

Gyantse Dzong江孜宗山遗址
The Gyantse Dzong is Gyantse's town fort sitting upon a hill just north of the town. Wherever you are in Gyantse, the Dzong can be seen. However, the fort lies abandoned today and many of its interior walls and buildings are in disrepair.
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