Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica

Textual and visual odds and ends from India, Tibet, and around.

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Location: Kolozsvár/Cluj, Budapest, Oxford, ibi ubi

Thursday, February 07, 2008


This has been bugging me for quite some time now. As one leaves Old Dingri and just before the climb to the mThong la starts there are these ... things in the way. For lack of a better word I call them 'forts' (cf. rDzong) but I'm not really sure what they are. They look ancient and are imposing even in their ruins - just too big to have functioned as a simple house. Furthermore, they seem to have been placed in strategic places as vantage points, and sometimes under a larger cliff to offer protection from the strong winds. But there is just too many of them to be militarily viable. You never lose sight of one before the next comes into view.

Note the care with which these walls were constructed. About three feet apart there is always a layer of stones. The only reason apparent to me is that since the region is prone to tectonic movement, these layers offer some kind of pliancy to the wall - it literally jiggles with the movement of the earth but it doesn't come down.

For the full view where these details are taken from go to the link above. And if you know anything on these strange walls, a bibliographical entry, learned guesses, anything - please do not hesitate to share it.


Blogger travismccauley said...

Hi PDSz,

I came to this great blog from the good folks over at Tibeto-Logic. I'm happy to be here.

These forts remind me of a series of towers that we saw on the road from Gyamda to Basum Lake in Kongpo.

The forts in Kongpo were very tall and very impressive. The walls were the same design as those in the fourth picture that you posted (see above). A big square tower with built out "wings" off of each wall for support at the base.

The ones in Kongpo, though, were of stone construction and the ones in your pictures seem to be rammed earth.

They had the same configuration on the landscape too. Just when one was going out of site, the next one would appear.

We went inside and they were hollow all the way to the top. You could see the gaps in the stonework where timbers were fitted to support the internal floor structure which was no longer there.

The pictures should all be in I'll see if I can find them and post some links to them.

Ahh, I just did some surfing and discovered a documentary called Secret Towers of the Himalayas about the towers in Kongpo and others like them in Kham. The documentary claims that these could not have had military use and were much higher than necessary to be lookout towers so they were probably displays of local pride and outdoing the Joneses.

I wonder if there could be any relationship with the Dingri structures?

Best Regards and thank you for bringing us Thor bu - Curiosia Indo-Tibetica!!


3:55 am  
Blogger PDSz said...

Dear Travis,

Thank you for your comment and encouragement. Looking forward to your blog!

They could have some connection with the 'secret towers'. As far as we know these might have been simply farmhouses (very uncomfortable ones). I am not an architect or an archeologist, I just thought that someone should do some work on these - this post was just a humble hint in that direction.



10:33 am  

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