Chongye Burial Mounds
The Chongye Valley is famed for its burial mounds. Whilst the valley is sometimes referred to as the ‘Graveyard of Imperial Kings’. These burial mounds contain not only the remains of Tibetan kings but also those of their wives and officials. Neither the number of tombs contained in this valley nor their exact locations are known today. Nevertheless, Chongye Valley is regarded as the “largest preserved imperial graveyard in Tibet”.
However, the site represents one of the few historical sites in the country. Which sites gave evidence of a pre-Buddhist Bön culture in Tibet. Accounts of the location and number of the heavily eroded mounds differ. All said and done, the faint mounds of earth are somewhat underwhelming, but the views back towards Chongye are impressive.
Most of the kings interred here are now firmly associated with the rise of Buddhism on the high plateau, but the methods of their internment point to the Bön faith. It is thought that the burials were probably officiated by Bön priests and accompanied by sacrificial offerings. Archaeological evidence suggests that earth burial, not sky burial, might have been widespread in the time of the Yarlung kings, and may not have been limited to royalty.
The most revered of the 10 burial mounds and the closest to the main road is the 130m-long Tomb of Songtsen Gampo. It has a small Nyingmapa temple atop its 13m-high summit, which isn’t worth the entry fee. The furthest of the group of mounds, high on the slopes of Mt Mura, is the Tomb of Trisong Detsen.
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