Gyantse - Pelkor Chode and the Kumbum
Most of the monastic buildings in Gyantse were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but the Pelkor Chode and Kumbum were spared. The Kumbum, Pelkor Chode and the castle, Dzong, were products of the dynasty founded by Pelden Zangpo and built his most illustrious descent, Rabten Kunzan (1389-1442). The city became the main center for Tibet's wool trade with India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim. Nine major monasteries were built in the vicinity of the town. In 1904 the Younghusband expedition attacked the Tibetan defenders, killing several hundred Tibetan soldiers. The expedition captured the castle and was billeted there for a month before proceeding to Lhasa
The Kumbum and Pelkor Chode are within the old walled monastery section of the town. Today, the rocky amphitheater that surrounds them is an errie, lunar landscape, scrubbed clean of human artifacts. The area used to contain 16 monasteries; nine belonged to the Gelugpas, four were Sakya, and three were affiliated with the Bu tradition founded by Buton Rinpoche. Now only two remain, a larger deteriorating Sakya monastery and Riting Monastery a small Bu structure on the hillside behind Pelkor Chorde. On a high-walled structure up on the hill, a large tangka would have been displayed.
1981, Source:*Tibet 1981, Galen Rowell
Photos by Anne L. Blasing, 1992: