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Gartok is located in Tibet
Coordinates: 31°45′0″N 80°22′0″E / 31.75000°N 80.36667°E / 31.75000; 80.36667Coordinates: 31°45′0″N 80°22′0″E / 31.75000°N 80.36667°E / 31.75000; 80.36667
CountryPeople's Republic of China
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
PrefectureNgari Prefecture
CountyGar County
4,450 m (14,600 ft)
Time zoneUTC+8 (CST)
Map of Gar by Strachey, 1851, showing Gar Gunsa and Gar Yansa

Gartok (Tibetan: སྒར་ཐོག, Wylie: sGar-thog),[a] also called Gar Yarsa (Wylie: sGar-dbyar-sa, Wade–Giles: Ka-erh-ya-sha) is a trade-market of Western Tibet. It is situated on the bank of the Gar River, one of the headwaters of the Indus River, at the base of the Kailash Range, at an elevation of 14,630 ft (4,460 m). It lies on the road between Shigatse and Ladakh, northeast of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, all of which it has had trade relations with.[2] It was formerly the summer headquarters of western Tibet. Its administrator was called the Garpön.[3] After the Chinese annexation of Tibet, the headquarters was moved to Shiquanhe.


Gartok means Gar 'military camp'.[4] Gar Yarsa means Gar "summer camp",[5][6]


Cecil Rawling wrote of it as he saw it during the British expedition to Tibet:

It was poor enough in all conscience, considering that it is the capital of Western Tibet, and that the Garpons reside here for about three months in the year, at which time it becomes a busy centre of commerce. Gartok only boasts of three good sized houses and twelve miserable hovels. ... Gartok in reality consists of two distinct places situated forty miles apart. The one we visited is known as Gar Yarsa or Summer Quarters, and the other, which is also on the Indus but at a lower altitude, Gar Gunsa or Winter Quarters.[7]


18th and 19th centuries[edit]

20th century[edit]

In accordance with the Treaty of Lhasa in 1904, Gartok, together with Yatung and Gyantse, was thrown open to British trade. On the return of the column from Lhasa in that year, Gartok was visited by a party under Captain C. H. D. Ryder, who found only a few dozen people in winter quarters, their houses being in the midst of a bare plain. In summer, however, all the trade between Tibet and Ladakh passed through it.[2]


  1. ^ Variants of the spelling include Gardokh, Gartokh, Ghertope, while Garo appears to be an alternative form of the name.[1]


  1. ^ Moorcroft & Trebeck, Travels in the Himalayan Provinces, Vol. 1 (1841), p. 362.
  2. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gartok". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 480.
  3. ^ Derek Waller, The Pundits: British Exploration of Tibet and Central Asia (University Press of Kentucky, 2004; ISBN 0813191009), pp. 100-01.
  4. ^ Eric Teichman, Travels of a Consular Officer in Eastern Tibet: Together with a History of the Relations Between China, Tibet and India (Cambridge: The University Press, 1922), p. 130.
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 10 (Encyclopædia Britannica, 1973; ISBN 0852291736), p. 3.
  6. ^ John Keay, History of World Exploration (The Royal Geographical Society; Mallard Press, 1991), p. 76.
  7. ^ Captain C. G. Rawling, The Great Plateau, being an Account of Exploration in Central Tibet, 1903, and of the Gartok Expedition, 1904—1905 (E. Arnold, 1905), p. 272.