Winter Palace


Accessed by a steep and easily missed eroded staircase (now with an iron railing in place), the palace is an amazing ant nest of rooms tunnelled into the clay below the Summer Palace. The rooms were built 12m underground in order to conserve warmth, and the rooms on the left side have windows that open out onto the cliff-face.

There are seven dusty chambers, all empty, linked by a cramped corridor. Branching off from the stairs you will see a dim passage that provided vital access to water during sieges and served as an emergency escape route for the royal family. The easily missed stairs to the Winter Palace lead down from between the Summer Palace and the Mandala (Demchok) Lhakhang. Don’t go down if you’re prone to vertigo or claustrophobia.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ngari attractions

1. Summer Palace

0.03 MILES

From the four chapels at the base of Tsaparang, the path to the top climbs up through the monastic quarters and then ascends to the palace complex atop…

2. Dorje Jigje Lhakhang

0.24 MILES

The murals in this small chapel are painted red and gold, and are almost solely devoted to wrathful deities in ecstatic yab-yum pose, such as Demchok …

3. Lhakhang Marpo

0.25 MILES

This large building was constructed around 1470. The beautiful murals were repainted around 1630, shortly before the fall of the Guge kingdom. The…

4. Chapel of the Prefect

0.27 MILES

This small building was a private shrine for Tsaparang’s prefect or regent. The caretaker has named it the ‘Drölma Lhakhang’ after his own sculpture of…

5. Lhakhang Karpo

0.27 MILES

The large Lhakhang Karpo holds the oldest paintings at Tsaparang and is probably the most important chapel in all of Ngari. The murals date back to the…

6. Caves

0.28 MILES

Worth a quick visit are the photogenic caves and chörtens to the west of the main Tsaparang site, near the public toilet.

7. Tsaparang

0.31 MILES

The citadel of Tsaparang, 18km west of Zanda, is one of Western Tibet's great hidden gems. Dozens of ruined residences and chapels dot a naturally…

8. Lotsang Lhakhang

0.36 MILES

This ruined chapel is flanked by an ancient-looking chörten. Only the feet of the main statue remain inside but there are some lovely old thangkas on…