Donggar monastery, (near) Donggar, Xizang, CN

Raw data

"[… Donggar caves are] said to be the largest Buddhist grotto ruins ever found in China. The initial studies show that the Donggar ruins are of one of the eight monasteries built during the reign of Rinchen Sampu of the Guge Kingdom. Built in the 10th century, the monastery was an important political, economic and cultural center of the Guge Kingdom.
On the two-kilometer-wide cliff, there are more than 200 caves. These beehive-like caves look so wonderful and house some excellent murals."

"Rinchen Sangpo (tib. rin chen bzang po[1]; * 958; † 1055) bzw. Lochen Rinchen Sangpo (lo chen rin chen bzang po[2]; „der Große Übersetzer Rinchen Sangpo“) war ein einflussreicher Mönch des tibetischen Buddhismus und ein großer Übersetzer buddhistischer Schriften, der die spätere Blütezeit des Buddhismus im Königreich Guge in Westtibet einleitete." -

"Donggar is a small village with a dozen households in Zhada County [in the Ngari Prefecture, - tmc]. At the foot of a mountain and standing by a river, it is about 40 km northwest of the ruins of the Guge Kingdom. The archaeologists unearthed two grottos, one on the cliff adjacent to the Donggar Village and one in the neighboring Piyang Village. They are the largest Buddhist caves so far discovered in Tibet. Relatively well preserved Donggar frescos are concentrated in three caves half way up the mountain. There are no records of their formation in the numerous Tibetan historic, religious and cultural files, and they remain a cultural mystery that has yet to be fathomed. However, one thing is sure - the grotto frescos have a history of nearly 1,000 years and are of high archaeological and research value."

The village of Dindun and the nearby sites of Dungkar/Piyang are situated roughly in the vicinity of ruins of the ancient town of Kyunglung, West of Mt. Kailash & Lake Manasarovar - Aldenderfer (map of the region, 2005b:10)

"Donggar Frescos : Around 40 kms northwest of the Guge ruins are the Donggar Frescos, the largest ruins of the ancient Buddhist frescos. The frescoes are preserved in around 200 caves that spread over 2 km on a cliff. It is not clear as to when these fresoces were painted, however scientists do agree that they are around 1000 years old. The frescoes mainly depict figures of Buddha, Bodhisattva as well as Buddhist stories."

"It is about 40 km northwest to the Guge Ruins [approx. Lat 31.4700 Long 79.6700 - tmciolek, 9 Aug 2010] Donggar is a small village of 10-odd households. Donggar Frescos are scattered in the grottos on the bluff north to the village. There are about 200 grottoes now, which spread 2 km and look like the honeycombs. Several of the grottoes with fine frescos cluster on the eastern U-shape crag. Donggar Frescos, which cluster in the 3 grottos half way up the mountain, are preserved well. It is not recorded in the Tibetan historic, religious or cultural dossiers when or how these frescos were painted. But scientists are sure that the frescos have a history of about 1,000 years and the discovery of them is significant in the field of archeology.
The frescos are mainly paintings of figures of Buddha and Bodhisattva, Buddhist stories, various vignettes and so forth. The figures of heavenly maids are especially vivid in the frescos."

"The Donggar Piyang Grottoes, spread along a 30-kilometer narrow clay cliff to the northeast [error, it should read northwest] of the Zhada county seat, are actually located in two villages. The Donggar and Piyang villages are both under the jurisdiction of Donggar Township. The two villages are two kilometers apart."

"The grottoes in Donggar are found on a mountain slope 500 meters north of Donggar Village. They are actually three niches along a row. The tops of the grottoes are square outside and round inside, in the shape of Mandalas. The frescoes in the grottoes are surprisingly well preserved, to the delight of visitors."

Kyunglung, China Page
World:China:Xizang Zizhiqu
Lat 31.0333 Long 80.5833

[The Donggar village in question not to be confused with Donggar, Lat 29.3333 Long 88.8167
or with Donggar, Lat 31.0667 Long 90.8333 ]

Input by: tmciolek, Aug 7, 2010

“Tsada County is full of grotto relics in different shapes, which Tongga Piyang Grottoes is the most well known in Tibet Region. Tongga Piyang Grottoes relics is situated approximately 62 kilometers north away from Toling Town. It is the largest Buddhism grotto relic which have been found in Tibet Region. Therefore it is called "the second larger Dunhuang of China".
[…] there are full of over 1000 caverns on the mountain covering an area of 12000 square meters.
The large grottoes are actually situated in Tongga Village and Piyang Village. Because it is not far from each other with those two villages, so the grottoes are named Tongga Piyang Grottoes. There are full of approximately 1000 rock caves in Tongga Piyang Grottoes including the cavern of paying respect to Buddha, meditation cavern, monk's dormitory, store carven, and kitchen carven in different shapes. The mural paintings drew the pictures of Buddha, Bodhisattva, Buddhist monk, and stories of Buddhism, etc.
Approximately 40 kilometers north away from Tsada County, there is grottoes attraction called Tongga Piyang Grottoes. According to the record and research, it is one of the top 8 monasteries which constructed during Guge Kingdom. During the AD 10th century, it was the political, economical and cultural center.
[…] Tongga Grottoes Ruins […] Tongga is a small village which only lived by tens of families face to the water and back against the mountains. It is located about 40 kilometers northwest away from Guge kingdom Ruins. Tongga Grottoes has been distributed on the northern bluff of Tongga Village. […] There are 150 caverns available in Tongga Grottoes ruins which were also distributed 2 regions. The first region is located the northern bluff of Tongga village. The second region is located in a ravine of eastern Tongga village."
Input by: tmciolek, 29 Jan, 2013

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 16 Jan 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 20 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Donggar monastery, CN.

General location of the Donggar monastery, CN.
Lat 31.6125 Long 79.3700
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2010.

Google Map link:,%20CN)&ll=31.6125,79.3700&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Donggar monastery

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • China:Xizang Zizhiqu

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 31.6125 Long 79.3700 - estimated coordinates for a point 40 km NW of Guge Ruins [which are at approx. Lat 31.4700 Long 79.6700 - tmciolek, 9 Aug 2010]

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • [missing data]

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

  • MBM chrono-tag: 0967-99c - tmciolek 16 Jan 2013
  • 0967-99c 1000-32p 1033-66p dated-e

12. Date-intermediate

  • [missing data]

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • [missing data]

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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