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This article is about the city. For the prefecture, see Shigatse Prefecture.
Shigatse (Xigazê)
日喀则市 · གཞིས་ཀ་རྩེ་གྲོང་ཁྱེར།
County-level city
Shigatse in 2009
Shigatse in 2009
Shigatse (Xigazê) is located in Tibet
Shigatse (Xigazê)
Shigatse (Xigazê)
Location in the Tibet Autonomous Region
Coordinates: 29°16′N 88°53′E / 29.267°N 88.883°E / 29.267; 88.883
Country People's Republic of China
Region Tibet
Prefecture Shigatse
Township-level divisions 12
Seat Chengbei Subdistrict
 • Total 3,654.18 km2 (1,410.89 sq mi)
Elevation 3,836 m (12,585 ft)
Population (2008)[1]
 • Total 92,000
 • Density 25/km2 (65/sq mi)
Time zone CST (UTC+8)
Postal code 857000
Area code(s) 0892
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese 日喀则
Traditional Chinese 日喀則
Hanyu Pinyin Rìkāzé
Postal Map Shigatse
Tibetan name
Tibetan གཞིས་ཀ་རྩེ་
གཞིས་་རྩེ་ (abbreviated)

Shigatse (official transcription: Xigazê; other spellings: Shikatse, Zhigatsey) is a county-level city and the second largest city in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of the People's Republic of China. In 2008, Shigatse had a population of 92,000, and is located about 250 km (160 mi) southwest of Lhasa and 90 km (56 mi) northwest of Gyantse. It is the administrative centre of the modern Shigatse Prefecture, an administrative district of the TAR.

The city is located at an altitude of 3,840 metres (12,600 ft) at the confluence of the Yarlung Tsangpo (aka Brahmaputra) river and the Nyang River (Nyang Chu or Nyanchue) in west Tibet and was the ancient capital of Ü-Tsang province. Shigatse is also the name of the surrounding county.


Shigatse was previously known as Samdruptse. In the 19th century, the "Tashi" or Panchen Lama had temporal power over Tashilhunpo Monastery and three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by two Dzongpön (Prefects) appointed from Lhasa.[2] Before military conflict between the PRC's People's Liberation Army and the then [Tibetan Govt.|Tibet (1912–51), the Tibetan territory was divided into 53 prefecture districts called Dzongs.[3]

There were two Dzongpöns for every Dzong—a lama (Tse-dung) and a layman. They were entrusted with both civil and military powers and are equal in all respects, though subordinate to the generals and the Chinese Amban in military matters.[4] However, there were only one or two Ambans representing the Chinese emperor residing in Lhasa, directing a little garrison, and their power installed since 1728, progressively declined to end-up as observer at the eve of their expulsion in 1912 by the 13th Dalai Lama.[3] In 1952, shortly after the PRC sent forces to the region, Shigatse had a population of perhaps 12,000 people, making it the second largest city in Tibet.[5]

Geography and climate[edit]

Shigatse lies on flat terrain surrounded by high mountains, and the urban area is located just south of the Yarlung Zangbo River, located in the south-central Tibet Autonomous Region. The city itself lies at an elevation of around 3,840 metres (12,600 ft), and within its administrative area there are five peaks higher than 5,500 metres (18,000 ft).[6] The city's administrative area ranges in latitude from 29° 07' to 29° 09' N and in longitude from 88° 03' to 89° 08' E.

Shigatse has a monsoon-influenced, alpine version of a humid continental climate (Köppen Dwb), with frosty, very dry winters and warm, wet summers. Temperatures are relatively moderate for the Tibetan Plateau, as the annual mean temperature is 6.48 °C (43.7 °F).[1] Barely any precipitation falls from November to March, when the diurnal temperature variation can frequently exceed 20 °C (36 °F). Nearly two-thirds of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August alone. Sunshine is abundant year-round, totaling 3248 hours annually.[6]

Climate data for Shigatse (1971−2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.2
Average low °C (°F) −12.6
Precipitation mm (inches) .4
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) .2 .5 .7 2.2 6.4 12.4 18.8 20.8 13.0 2.2 .4 .1 77.7
Source: Weather China

Administrative divisions[edit]

Skyline of Shigatse

Shigatse administers 2 subdistricts and 10 townships.[1]

# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Tibetan Wylie Population (2008 est.) Area (km²)
1 Chengbei Subdistrict 城北街道 Chéngběi Jiēdào ? ? 6000 70
2 Chengnan Subdistrict 城南街道 Chéngnán Jiēdào ? ? 6000 90
3 Lian Township 联乡 Lián Xiāng ? ? 5000 514
4 Nianmu Township 年木乡 Niánmù Xiāng ? ? 3000 330
5 Jiangdang Township 江当乡 Jiāngdāng Xiāng ? ? 5000 304
6 Bianxiong Township 边雄乡 Biānxióng Xiāng ? ? 4000 230
7 Dongga Township 东嘎乡 Dōnggā Xiāng ? ? 9000 428
8 Nierixiong Township 聂日雄乡 Nièrìxióng Xiāng ? ? 5000 555
9 Jiacuoxiong Township 甲措雄乡 Jiǎcuòxióng Xiāng ? ? 12000 471
10 Qubuxiong Township 曲布雄乡 Qǔbùxióng Xiāng ? ? 5000 310
11 Qumei Township 曲美乡 Qǔměi Xiāng ? ? 6000 356
12 Na'er Township 纳尔乡 Nà'ěr Xiāng ? ? 2000 207


The Jong or Fort of Shigatse, a map of the town of Shigatse showing the Dzong or fort, from Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet by Sarat Chandra Das, 1902.

Shigatse contains the huge Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama.[7] It is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas. Until the Chinese arrived in the 1950s, the "Tashi" or Panchen Lama had temporal power over three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by a dzongpön (general) appointed from Lhasa.[2] In the 2nd week of the 5th lunar month (around June/July), Tashilhunpo Monastery is the scene of a 3-day festival and a huge thangka is displayed.[8]

Shigatse fortress. Samdrubtse Dzong. 1938.
The reconstructed castle (dzong) of Shigatse. 2007.

The imposing castle, Samdrubtse Dzong or "Shigatse Dzong", was probably built in the 15th century. It looked something like a smaller version of the Potala, and had turret-like fortifications at the ends and a central Red Palace. It used to be the seat of the kings of Ü-Tsang and the capital of the province of Ü-Tsang or Tsang.[9]

The castle was totally dismantled, rock by rock, by hundreds of Tibetans at the instigation of the Chinese in 1961.[10][11] Between 2005 and 2007, the building was reconstructed, financed by donations from Shanghai. The basis of the reconstruction were old photos, yet reconstruction was executed in cement/concrete.[12] Afterwards, the outside was to be wainscotted with natural stones. The dzong which, in the 17th century, clearly was taken as example when the Potala palace was constructed in Lhasa, is set to become a museum for Tibetan culture.[citation needed]

Nearby attractions include:

Infrastructure and transport[edit]

  • The city of Shigatse is the hub of the road network between Lhasa, Nepal and western Tibet.
  • Construction started in 2010 of the Lhasa–Shigatse Railway to Shigatse slated for completion in 2014. A further extension to the Nepalese border is planned.[13]
  • The nearest railhead in India is the station of New Jalpaiguri, a suburb of Siliguri, West Bengal
  • Shigatse Peace Airport began operations on 30 October 2010 after an Airbus A319 landed safely, This makes it Tibet's fifth commercial airport. It is located 43 kilometres from central Shigatse at Jiangdang Village at an altitude of 3,782 metres. The airport is designed to handle up to 230,000 passengers annually by 2020.[14]
  • China National Highway 318


  1. ^ a b c d 日喀则市. Accessed 2011-05-26
  2. ^ a b Chapman, Spencer F. (1940). Lhasa: The Holy City, p. 141. Readers Union Ltd., London.
  3. ^ a b Le Tibet, Marc Moniez, Christian Deweirdt, Monique Masse, Éditions de l'Adret, Paris, 1999, ISBN 2-907629-46-8
  4. ^ Das, Sarat Chandra. (1902). Lhasa and Central Tibet. Reprint (1988): Mehra Offset Press, Delhi, p. 176.
  5. ^ Richardson (1984), p. 7.
  6. ^ a b 日喀则市概况. Accessed 2011-05-26.
  7. ^ Chö Yang: The Voice of Tibetan Religion and Culture. (1991) Year of Tibet Edition, p.79. Gangchen Kyishong, Dharmasala, H.P., India.
  8. ^ "Introducing Shigatse."
  9. ^ Mayhew, Bradley and Kohn, Michael. (2005). Tibet, p. 172. 6th Edition. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 978-1-74059-523-0.
  10. ^ Tibet: a travel survival kit, p. 168. (1986). Michael Buckley and Robert Strauss. Lonely Planet Publications, South Yarra, Vic., Australia. ISBN 0-908086-88-1.
  11. ^ Tibet: A Fascinating Look at the Roof of the World, Its People and Culture, p. 115. (1982). Elisabeth B. Booz. Passport Books.
  12. ^ Cp. Shigatse Dzong
  13. ^ "China: Building Starts on Rail Line to Tibet" article by Andrew Jacobs in The New York Times September 27, 2010, accessed September 28, 2010
  14. ^


  • Das, Sarat Chandra. 1902. Lhasa and Central Tibet. Reprint: Mehra Offset Press, Delhi. 1988. ISBN 81-86230-17-3
  • Dorje, Gyurme. 1999. Footprint Tibet Handbook. 2nd Edition. Bath, England. ISBN 1-900949-33-4. Also published in Chicago, U.S.A. ISBN 0-8442-2190-2.
  • Dowman, Keith. 1988. The Power-Places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide, p. 59. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0 (ppk).
  • Richardson, Hugh E (1984). Tibet and its History. Second Edition, Revised and Updated. Shambhala Publications, Boston. ISBN 0-87773-376-7.

External links[edit]

Media related to Shigatse at Wikimedia Commons