Tombs of Tibetan Kings

 

High up on Mure Mountain in Chonggye County, sits a large imperial graveyard with nine massifs. These variably sized earthen structures are the tombs of Tibetan kings who governed from the 7th to the 9th century. Originally of similar size and shape-high and square with flat top-some of the tombs are now round or otherwise eroded. Here, in the Graveyard of Tibetan Kings, the largest preserved imperial graveyard in Tibet, the nine recognizable tombs stand as reminders of the rich history and lore of ancient Tibet.

Two stone steles stand at the front of the Graveyard of Tibetan Kings. One marks the tomb of Tride Songtsen, who ruled Tibet from 798 to 815. This stele is 7.18 meters (about 23 feet) high. It is inscribed with vivid carvings of floating clouds and flying celestials. Ancient Tibetan script describes Tride Songsten's outstanding achievements. The second stele is similar to the first, the only differences being the top and objects depicted in the carvings.

Two stone lions are situated in front of the graveyard. Although one has been destroyed the other is intact apart from a broken leg. The lion is 1.55 meters (about 5 feet) high and 1.3 meters (about 1.4 yards) in length. It stands on a 0.76 meter (about 0.83 yards) pedestal.

A tomb near the north bank of Chonggye River is said to be the tomb of Songtsen Gamp, who set up the first unified regime in Tibet. This splendid tomb stands 13.4 meters (about 44 feet) high. On the top, there is a temple for worship in which the statues of Sonftsen Gamp, his wives - Princess Wen Cheng and Princess Chi Zu - and his ministers are displayed. The gate of the tomb opens to the west, the direction of Sakyamuni's homeland, demonstrating the king's piety to Buddhism. According to descriptive records, the inner tomb (about 100 meters square) (about 109 yards) consists of five halls, the middle hall being the one in which the remains of Songtsen Gampo and his two wives were laid. It is believed that statues of Songtsen Gampo, Sakyamuni and Avalokitesvara are in the tomb. The tomb also contains a large number of gold and silver utensils, reliquary and commemorative artifacts.

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