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Sichuan - Daocheng

    Daocheng county is mountainous region in the south of Puborgang. The county town lies on the south bank of the Dao-chu, a tributary of the Yangtze which rises in the Sangtobla uplands in the north of the county and flows south to merge with other Yangtze tributaries. In the south of the county there are the sacred snow peaks known as Dabpa Lhari or Riksum Gonpo, which are visited by pilgrims and mountaineers.
    Heading south from Xiangcheng in Litang county, the road crosses the watershed pass at the county border and traverses the Haizi, a bleak lakeland plateau containing the remnants of Tibet's oldest ice-cap of Dabpa'. Here there are 1'145 lakes covering an area of 3,200 square km. The eroded rocks assume grotesque shapes; dogs, flowers and so forth; and in 1982 fossilized dinosaur teeth and eucalyptus were discovered. The area is important for the scientific study of glaciation. On the periphery of this plateau there are monasteries: Niya of the Gelukpa school in the east, and adjacent to the motor road, a Bon monastery is passed on the far bank of the Dao-chu after a derelict old stupa on the right. On the approach to Sumdo township, Dekyi Gonpa of the Drigung Kagyu school is visible across the Dao-chu river to the left. It has three stupas.
    At Sumdo, there is a turn-off to the southwest which leads into Xiangcheng. The valley abounds in rhododendrons, buttercups, peonies and daisies, and the village houses are of sturdy stone construction, as at Litang further north. The county capital lies 26 km downstream from Sumdo and 152 km south of Litang.
    Heading south from Dabpa county town, two roads diverge before Zer la pass. One leads southeast in close proximity to Mount Pari, following the Tsulurb Tsangpo, its banks covered with grassy meadow and forest belts interspersed by feeder streams. In this beautiful valley the scenery changes throughout the four seasons. This side road continues southeast, passing through Jiulong to reach the border with Muli county. The main road, however, continues due south from Zar La, passing through Chitu, Gonling, and Riwa before skirting the west approaches of the Yading Nature preserve. At Chitu, the Kungaling monastery of the Gelukpa school contains an exquisite copper image of the bodhisattva Maitreya, which was originally presented by Dalai Lama V. The walls ceilings and pillars are finely decorated.
    Here, in South Dabpa county, the Ngulao Range hugs the east bank of theTong-nyi Tsangpo river. The larch forests of the mountain slopes in autumn are a fusion of red, yellow and green, while the river banks are broken by copses of trees and jagged rocks, against which the rushing torrent noisily cascades.
    Lying to the east of the Ngulso Range is the most important site in Daocheng: the triple peaked mountain sanctuary, generally known as Rigsum Gonpo, but particularly named Daocheng Lhari by Dalai Lama V. Mount Chenrezi lies to the north, Mount Jampeyang to the south, and Mount Chakna Dorje to the east. These perennial snow peaks, which face each other like the legs of a tripod, cover an area of 800 square km and are focal points for pilgrimage from Litang, Daocheng and Muli. In front of each peak there is a limpid lake, poetically described as the mirrors upon which the Lords of the Three Families shaved their hair. Wild goats, deer, monkeys, and black bears thrive in this protected environment.
    The motor road continues to follow the Tong-nyi Tsangpo south via Tong-nyi township, 104 km distant from Daocheng town, after which a rough motorable trail leads southeast to Lugu lake on the Yunnan border.

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