Phung Chu Valley

Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau

The Tsangpo valley runs along the trace of the Indus-Tsangpo Suture, which marks the junction of the Eurasian and Indian plates. The long linear valley is clearly visible in the Space Shuttle photograph running diagonally from the left side. This part of the journey follows the Phung Chu valley to the south of the Tsangpo (just visible in the lower left corner of the photograph).

Nam Co lake, the snow-capped peaks of the Nyaingenttanglha Mountains and the Gulu Graben are visible at right side of the photograph. Lhasa is located in the pale-brown valley that joins the Tsangpo valley just left of center. The Kunlun Mountains are just visible at the horizon with the Tanggula Shan appearing as a rugged E-W band of peaks approximately one centimeter (on the photograph) below the horizon. In the lower right corner, the Gangetic Plain lies at the foot of the snowy peaks of the Himalayas.

Ruins - J.H. Wittke


Ruins are scattered along the route, which was the old trading route between Tibet and Nepal. Most of these are forts destroyed during an Nepalese invasion of Tibet in the 18th century. The road along the Phung Chu is paved in places, and the surface is not too terrible where the pavement disappears.

Cart near Tingri - J.H. Wittke


We make good time, stopping to take pictures of geology and the locals (right) and once to change a flat tire. It seems amazing that this is the first puncture since the one just outside of Chengdu!

Tingri - J.H. Wittke



We stop on the outskirts of the village of Tingri to enjoy another beautiful view of Chomolungma, which rises to the south of us, poking the valley walls. The view of Chu Oyo is even more impressive, showing as a long snow covered ridge to the southwest. Tingri is nestled at the base of a ridge that is topped by the ruins of a fort. Huge sanddunes climb the mountainsides behind the ridge.

Two Swiss bicyclists stop to chat. They started in Singapore, and have peddled through Vietnam and southern China. I am impressed with the stamina and pneumatic fortitude that it has required. It is a little strange to see unaccompanied travelers, but perhaps their nationality and numbers, makes them less of a security risk than our horde of Americans.

Free Tibet!