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Attractions of Ganzi

Kangding Dartsendo (Kangding) is a fairly big town nestled in a steep river valley at the confluence of the swift Zheduo and Yala Rivers, known as the Dar and Tse in Tibetan. If you're en route to western Sichuan, it's worth staying for a few days to take in the sights and check out some of this dreamy scenery. Towering above Dartsendo (Kangding) is the mighty peak of Minya Konka Mountain (7555m).
Arriving in Dartsendo (Kangding), there is a tangible sense that you've reached the end of the Han Chinese world and the beginning of the Tibetan. The town has been a trade center between the two cultures of centuries with the exchange of yak hides, wool, and Tibetan herbs and, especially, bricks of tea from Ya'an wrapped in yak hide. It also served as an important staging post on the road to Lhasa, as indeed it does today. Dartsendo (Kangding) was historically the capital of the local Tibetan kingdom of Chakla and later, from 1939 to 1951, the capital of the short-lived province of Xikang.

In Dartsendo (Kangding), you'll still see plenty of Khambas down from the hills shopping or selling huge blocks of yak butter in the market, and spot monks wandering around town in crimson robes.
Dartsendo (Kangding)'s biggest annual festival is on the 8th day of the 4th month of the Chinese calendar, and features activities on Racehorse Hill, plus ten days of street fair that fills up the whole town. In Dartsendo (Kangding) you should drop in on the Dartsendo (Kangding) Nationalities Handicraft Workshop, located on the same street as the bus station, on the opposite side, a few minutes' walk toward the center of town. They have a small showroom downstairs; go upstairs to see craftsmen at work making traditional Tibetan jewelry, household items such as tea churns, and Buddhist ritual items.
While staying in Dartsendo (Kangding) town, you can stretch your legs on Guoda Mountain, a good warm-up if you're planning serious trekking or climbing later on.
A good, calming place to hang out and find English-speaking locals is the Jiangshan Tea Garden. It is run by Mr. Ang Luo, who used to live in the U.K. for a while and speaks pretty good English. To find his teahouse, as you exit the big Dartsendo (Kangding) Hotel, go out past the monastery on your left, and make a left turn onto the big street paralleling the river (do not cross the river). Walk down for about ten minutes until you come to a really big street coming in from the left. On the corner on your left hand is the tea garden, which is reached by going into the lobby of a fairly anonymous looking building and making a sharp right turn once inside.
Daocheng It covers 7323 square kilometers and its 30000 inhabitants are mainly Tibetan. Economically the county is a region of partial agriculture and partial animal husbandry. Daocheng County is special in geographical features. Its north is higher than its south, the west higher than the east. Winding and majestic mountains like billows of the sea alternate with valleys. Hence, the high-altitude mountain peaks clad with snow all the year round, deep serene valleys with gurgling brooks and broad pastures.

The scenes are various and bewitching.
In the north of Daocheng County lies the plateau area with broad valleys. Mt. Haizi (Lake), parallel to Daocheng River and with an altitude of 3600-5000m, is the largest remnants of glaciations on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, traditionally called 'the Old Ice Cap of Daocheng'. With its glacial erosion topography fully developed, the mountain possesses potted landscapes of glacial erosion scattered here and there, and 1145 (lakes), can be found in an area of 3200 square kilometers. With the size and number of its haizi (lakes) exceptional in China, Mt. Haizhi has become the most important base for the study of the topography of quaternary glaciers. In 1982, fossils of dinosaur teeth and eucalyptus were unearthed in the center and the south of the county respectively. Its rolling hills, crossed valleys, scattered lake boulders and the forest of rocks of grotesque shapes make Mt. Haizi magnificent and charming.
The middle of Daocheng County is of mountain plateau, including the Bowa Mountain and the Chitu River. On both banks of the river are broad pastures and stretches of forest. Mt. Bowa, grand and scenic, is sharply distinct during the four seasons: in spring and summer, azleas bloom to vie each other for beauty, in autumn, leaves as red as flame cover the trees, while in winter, snow clothes all and gleams white. In the south of the county are mountains and valleys. Mt. Echu, parallel to Dongyi River and with an altitude of 5140m, is as charming and attractive as a pretty fairy sitting up - right on the clouds, although it is lofty and majestic. What is most fascinating about Mt. Echu is its autumnal tints: the bright red, lucid yellow and delicate green make the  mountain colorful. 'Both heavy and delight makeup are compatible with it', The Dongyi River, rushing down from Mt. Echu like a steed, has two banks covered with towering old trees and jagged rocks. The rumbling waves and series of waterfalls wonderfully correspond to the mountain. Adjacent to Mt. Echu is Daocheng Sacred Peaks - the Heavenly Charms in the Snow World which are well-known among the Tibetan people. They consist of three snow-capped peaks whose names were, according to a legend, conferred by Dalai Lama V. Xiannairi, the north peak with an altitude of 6032m, means Mother Buddha; Yangmaiyong, the south peak with an attitude of 5958m, means Manjuist Buddha; Xiaruoduoji, the east peak with an altitude of 5958m, means the Buddha with warriors' hands. The total coverage of the peaks is about 800 square kilometers. The Daocheng Sacred Peaks covered with snow all the year round are grand and majestic. On the mountainside are colorful lakes which are gorgeous and changeful; At the foot of the mountain, on the pastures are rare fowls and valuable animals that co-exist harmoniously with the people. The peaks are regarded as sacred peaks by the Tibetan people; and visited by continues stream of devotees.

Daocheng has a long history of culture. Of the 13 monasteries in the county, Xiongden Monastery and Gonggaling Monastery are the best known. Grandly constructed, Gonggaling Monastery possesses a bronze statue of Maitreya presented by Dalai Lama V. Xiongden Monastery, built in the Ming Dynasty, keeps 100,000 books of Buddhist scriptures, and in the same monastery several hundreds of Buddha figures, huge or small, are consecrated, one of them is the sandal wood figure of Saky.
Horse racing in Litang county At 4,187 meters above sea level, the town of Litang is known as the highest county seat in the world. Situated in the far west of Sichuan Province, 385 kilometers west of Kangding, capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Litang is famous for its boundless Maoya Grassland. It is known as Letong in Tibetan, '
le' means bronze mirror and 'tang' means grassland. Once the site of a bazaar at which tea and horses were traded, Litang is the transportation, cultural and commercial center of southern Ganzi. Covering an area of 14,000 square kilometers, the county is populated by seven nationalities, with Tibetans accounting for 94 percent of the total. The local economy is pastoral based. Nomads graze yaks, goats, sheep and horses on Litan's high plateau grasslands, as they have done for generations. Litang is also host to a major horse racing festival in early August, attracting thousands of Tibetans from all over the plateau, and from Qinghai, Sichuan and Tibet. The Tangqincunker Monastery, which is a huge Yellow sect temple with magnificent Palaces and thousands of Lamas.

The annual Litang Horse Race, held at Litang from August 1 to 7th, is the most celebrated holiday on the Chinese Tibetan grasslands. The Tibetans will come from far away and set tents to wait for the big days very early. After the wonderful ceremony with traditional Tibetan dancing and songs, the most exciting event is the horse races. The brave riders will take their pretty decorated horses to participate the races and showcase their excellent horse riding skills, such as picking up the scarlet on the back of a fast running horse, shooting at targets while on the gallop, etc. The women are all in their most beautiful best with magnificent jewelry as they shower their applauses on their heroes. The festival is also a good time for trade and various Tibetan-style goods are exchanged here amongst the visitors from all over.

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