China // Tibet //

The Chongye Valley

From Tsetang it’s a bumpy 27km south along unsurfaced roads through the attractive Chongye Valley to the village of CHONGYE (阱结, jĭngyiē), a sleepy little place but expanding with plenty of new buildings. There are a couple of restaurants and a basic guesthouse here, which you’ll need to ask to find. On the way, you’ll pass the Tangboche Monastery. However, the target for most visitors, the Tombs of the Kings, is around a kilometre farther south from Chongye. The entire valley is an agricultural development area and the patchwork of fields is interspersed with irrigation work. Be warned, though, that there’s no public transport out here from Tsetang, and very little traffic either.

One kilometre south of Chongye, the Tombs of the Kings are scattered over a vast area on and around the slopes of Mura Ri. Some are huge, up to 200m in length and 30m high. The body of each king was buried along with statues, precious objects and, some sources suggest, live servants. Some of the greatest kings of the Yarlung dynasty were interred here, although there is disagreement over the precise number of tombs – some sources claim it’s 21, but far fewer are visible, and there is uncertainty about which tomb belongs to which king.