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Capital of tea horse road

Kangding is also known as Dartsedo in Tibetan. It is one of the capital towns of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. It is the capital of Kangding County. The Dartsedo has three towns Kangding, Guzan, and Rangakha, along with many small townships. The county covers around ten thousand square kilometers. Among those towns, Tagong town is famous for the tourist and locals.  It is elevated at the height of 2600m above sea level with around a hundred thousand population.

About fifty percent of Tibetans, thirty percent of Han Chinese, and twenty percent of other minority ethnic groups. Han Chinese populate the eastern part of the Kangding, and the western part is predominant by Tibetans. It is a historical place for Tibetans. Hills and snow mountains surround the whole town. The County has three towns Guzan, Xindu, and Kanding, which cover around eleven thousand square kilometers. 

In the early 1900s, the Dartsedo was the gateway of Tibet and was very popular for trading between Tibetans, Chinese, and Manchus. The Tibetans trader sell butter, meat, and wools; where the Chinese trader sells silks, tea, and cosmetics. 

During that time, it was served as the capital of Chakla Kingdom, and it was one of the five Kingdoms of eastern Tibet. It served as the capital of Xikhang Province back in the 1940s. It was a very famous place for tea trading, and sometimes the main road of early Kangding was called Tea road. In the year 1950, the Xiciang province was divided along the Yangtze River. The eastern part of the river is under today’s Sichuan province, and the western part of the river is under Tibet Autonomous Region. Hence the Kangding is under Sichuan jurisdiction. 

Attractions in and around Kangding

The county has so many famous places such as mountains, monasteries, and lakes.  There is a famous mountain called Dentok Ri in Tibetan with a height of about 6000m. At the southeast of Kangding town, there is one of the highest mountains in eastern Tibet. That is mount Minya Gongka with a height of around 7600m. It is the second-highest mountain outside the Himalayas mountain range. It is also considered the holy mountain by Tibetans. Every year many Tibetans come for a pilgrimage.

In the west end of Kangding town, a snow-capped Gongga range of 60km long and over 20 mountains rising above 6000m high.  The Hai Lou Gou glaciers are located nearby Luding county and can be easily reached from Kangding. It is at the southeast of Minya Gongka, and it is one of the lowest glaciers in Asia. The figure of Minya Gongka is so elegant and seems like it is guarding the Kangding Town. 

On the north side of Kangding, there is high altitude lake known as Migao Tso in Tibetan. It is elevated at an altitude of 3700m above sea level. A famous lake nearby county town called Yilhun Lhatso lake is not far from the town.  There is a long and steep river valley passing through the town known as Dar and Tse rivers in Tibetan. There are many monasteries in and around town.

The Dentok Monastery is situated on the top of Dentok Ri and overlooks the whole Kangding town with a great landscape view. The Dordrak Monastery is located at the south end of the Kangding town, and it is a more than four hundred years old monastery. The Ngachu Monastery is located the downtown Kangding. The Ngachu Monastery is quite famous in the town as it was dated back to the sixteenth century.

The Lhamo Tse monastery is at the west end of Kangding, about a kilometer from downtown.  There are monasteries like Lhagang Monastery, Dzogchen Monastery, Shechen monastery, and Dolma Lhakhang have located nearby the Kangding town. Mostly it takes around two to three hours by car. The Tagong town is very famous for its landscape, and also there is a famous monastery. It takes only two hours’ journey from Kangding town. The Kangding town itself is the symbol of diversity and harmony as there are Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, a few churches, and a mosque at the heart of the town.   

How to travel to Kangding?

It is the best place for the tourists as there are many places for trekking, hiking, and camping around the Kangding. The most famous trekking route is around Minya Gongka, and it takes around five days to complete. It starts with a short drive from the town. The world’s second-highest commercial airport is situated in the town with an elevated 4000m above sea level. It is about 30km far from the town. The weekly flight from Chengdu and Lhasa available at reasonable prices but in winter the flights are not available due to bad weather condition as heavy of snowfall.

Many buses and minivans are traveling from Chengdu. It takes around seven hours to reach the county. Other towns and cities like Yushu, Garze city, Nyachu ka, Ya Nga and Dan Qi. There are so many places to visit around Kangding town, which gives many experiences and takes away memories of those beautiful places. The visitors can also experience the lifestyle of local people living the remote areas while going hiking or trekking. 

The modern Kangding town has excellent facilities for travelers and as well as for locals. There are so many hotels, guest houses, and restaurants. Some famous hotels in the town are Yongzhu Hotel, Zhilam Hotel, and Black Tent hotel.

A foreigner owns Zhilam hotel, and all staffs working in the hotel are Tibetans.  There are also few travel agencies, who can arrange activities for the tourists. They will provide tour guides and all the necessary needs for the expedition.  Many nomads live in tents not far from town along the road to Lhagang or Tagong county, a famous place for backpackers.  The summer season is the best time to travel around the Kangding as the weather condition is perfect for the travelers.