Tsangpo River Valley

Xigaze Ophiolite Thrust on Deformed Cretaceous Flysch - J.H. Wittke


We emerge from the gorge at Duzhuke. This small village located at a ferry crossing is in the Indus-Tsangpo Suture. To the south, great sheets of oceanic rocks, called ophiolites, are thrust over deformed Cretaceous flysch.

Tashihlunpo Monastery - J.H. Wittke


The Tashilhunpo Monastery (right) is the residence of the Panchen Lama and appears very prosperous, although I know that it suffered extensive damage during the Cultural Revolution. We enter through the main gate on its south side and find ourselves in a large flagstone courtyard. The three principal buildings at Tashilhunpo are (left to right) the Maitreya Temple, the Tomb of the Tenth Panchen Lama, and the Main Assembly Hall, with its associated temple. The buildings are freshly painted and well-maintained. The monastery, located at the foot of Mount Niseri, was founded in 1447. It is the seat of the Panchen Lama, whose prestige ranks second only to his Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Wall at Tashihlunpo Monastery - J.H. Wittke


The walls of the courtyard before the main assembly hall are painted. Images of a thousand Buddhas surround the open space; beneath them are religious texts painted in gold script (left).

Outside the main gate, two women are prostrating their way around the monastery wall. Each performs a full prostration and leave a small stick at the farthest point her hands had reached. Then they rise, move to the position of the stick, pick it up, and repeat the process. I find it a remarkable sight, even more so that none of the Tibetans nearby pay any heed to the pair.

Folds along Indus-Tsangpo Suture - J.H. Wittke

West of Shigatse

The folding along the stretch of the Tsangpo west of Shigatse is particularly spectacular. We stop for photography repeatedly, much to Mr. He's dismay.

Folds along Indus-Tsangpo Suture - J.H. Wittke


Further along the valley, the sparse vegetation hides none of the complexly deformed Angren Formation, which is composed of submarine fan turbidites. The rocks glow in the morning light.


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