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China Works for Inclusion of Tibetan Kingdom Ruins on World Heritage List

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2004/03/23; March 23, 2004.]

March 23, 2004
The People's Daily
The People's Daily is the publication of the People's Republic of China

China is preparing for filing an application to add its ruins of an ancient Tibetan kingdom on the world cultural and natural heritage list of the United Nations Education, Culture and Science Organization (UNESCO).

Preparatory work is well underway on the Zhada Clay Forest and Guge Kingdom Ruins in Ngari Prefecture, western China's Tibet Autonomous Region, according to the region's cultural authorities.

The unique geological physiognomy of the clay forest and cultural and artistic value of the historical ruins and their significance in academic research meet the requirements for listing as a world heritage, the authorities said.

The local cultural authorities said they were busy preparing application documents for the world heritage listing.

The local government has made efforts to improve the environment around the Guge ruins, dismantling unauthorized buildings around the site, establishing protective fences and tourist guide signs in Chinese and English languages at major murals and constructing tourist aisles.

About 10 Tibetan households in the nearby area of the ruins have moved out voluntarily.

Zhada, which means in Tibetan "the place where there is grass in the lower reaches of the river", is a county on the frontier between China and India and under the administration of Nagri Prefecture. The clay forest and ruins of the Guge Kingdom stand there.

The clay forest, geologically called "the level terrain physiognomy", is formed by erosion of water. Some clay are said tobe like thousands of horses galloping, and some like devout followers of a religion cultivating themselves, standing there quietly.

Guge Kingdom was founded around the 9th century by a descendant of King Lang Darma, who fled from Lhasa after the collapse of the Tubo Kingdom. The kingdom survived about 700 years and disappeared mysteriously in the 17th century. The castle of the kingdom was built and rebuilt during a period from 10th century to 16th century.

The castle ruins lie at a hilltop near a river, covering 180,000 square meters. The 3-storey structure include 600 houses and cave dwellings, with palaces on the top floor and monasteries and cave dwellings for common people at the bottom.

The castle was built with strong fortifications. Part of it remains in good condition in this untraversed region.

The ruins are famous for murals of more than 1,000 square meters, sculptures and stone inscriptions, which depict mainly stories of Buddha, Sakyamuni, kings of Guge and their ministers.

The ruins was listed as one of the major national cultural protection units in 1961. The central and local governments have invested 20 million yuan (2.41 million US dollars) in restoring the cultural relics at the Guge ruins since 1997.

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