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Rutok, Rutog
Rudok village and dzong
Rudok village and dzong
Rudok Dzong
Location in Tibet Autonomous Region
Location in Tibet Autonomous Region
Location in Tibet Autonomous Region
Location in Tibet Autonomous Region
Coordinates: 33°24′58″N 79°38′36″E / 33.4161°N 79.6433°E / 33.4161; 79.6433Coordinates: 33°24′58″N 79°38′36″E / 33.4161°N 79.6433°E / 33.4161; 79.6433
ProvinceTibet Autonomous Region
PrefectureNgari Prefecture
CountyRutog County
TownshipRutog Town
4,250 m (13,940 ft)
Area code(s)+86 (0) 897

Rudok, also spelt Rutok and Rutog,[a] more properly Rudok Dzong[7] (Tibetan: རུ་ཐོག་དགོན, Wylie: Ru thogs rdzong),[b] is a town that served as the historical capital of the Rudok area in Western Tibet on the frontier with Ladakh. It is described as a picturesque town on the side of a hill standing isolated in the plain near the east end of Lake Pangong.[2]

Around the year 2000, the Chinese administration of Tibet built a new Rutog Town about 10 km east along the China National Highway 219, and moved the county headquarters there. The original town is now regarded as a "village" (Chinese: 日土村; pinyin: Rì tǔ cūn) within the township of the new town. The original town also considerable damage during the Cultural Revolution and lost much of its grandeur. It is still recommended as a tourist destination by a number of guide books.[3]


Rutog Dzong (日土村) and Rutog Town (日土县)
Rudok monastery

Rudok is centred on a small hill on the bank of a tributary called Chuling Chu of the Maga Tsangpo river. Chuling Chu joins the latter about 4 km downstream and the combined river flows into the southeastern end of the Pangong Lake further 4 km down. Maga Tsangpo is one of the largest affluents of the Pangong Lake.

E. B. Wakefield, the first European to visit Rudok in 1929, described the purple and black hill, rising high above the level of the surrounding plain, crowned by the Dzongpön's palace, which seemed "beautiful and impressive and worthy of [its] sanctity".[10] The village was built around the hill, at its base as well as on the hill slopes. The houses were built in tiers, whitewashed and walled in.[2]

At the top of the hill are a large palace (dzong) and several monasteries painted red.[2] Modern travel literature names them as Sharje, Lhakhang, Marpo, and Nubradan monasteries.[11] According to another travel book, the monasteries were destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. One of them (Lhakhang) was rebuilt in 1983–84. It had only six monks in 1999.[12]


Rudok is over 4,000 m. above sea-level. The winter climate of Rudok and of all the towns of the Tsangpo basin, owing to the intense dryness of the air and the light fall of snow, seems to be bracing and exhilarating rather than severe.[2]


Maryul in 1100–1200 CE (said to have included Guge)

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Rudok was historically an integral part of Ladakh, and it was also geographically and culturally a part of Ladakh.[2] In the vicinity of Rudok are ancient petroglyphs which resemble those of Gilgit and Ladakh.[11] They were chiselled using stone tools, and depict animals, human figures and Bön symbols. They are believed to have been carved prior to the 7th century when Ladakh as well as Rudok were part of the Zhangzhung empire based in the Sutlej Valley.[13][14]

After the Zhangzhung empire was conquered by the Yarlung dynasty of Central Tibet, both Ladakh and Rudok came under Tibetan control. Roughly two hundreds later (around 900 CE), the Tibetan Empire fragmented with the assassination of the emperor Langdarma. One of Langdarma's descendants, Kyide Nyimagon, founded a new empire in Western Tibet (Ngari Khorsum). After his death, the kingdom was divided among his three sons. Ladakh and Rutog were among the inheritance of Lhachen Palgyigon, the eldest son, who established the kingdom of Maryul in modern day Ladakh. The second son received Guge and Purang. One late source states that Rudok was included in Guge rather than Maryul, which might indicate that it did not stay long with the descendants of Palgyigon and fell into Guge's orbit.[15] However, the levels of controls shifted between Maryul and Guge through history. Rudok can be expected to have had influence from both of them, but mostly controlled by local chieftains.



  1. ^ The standard British spelling of the town is "Rudok".[1] Encyclopedia Britannica states that the modern spelling is "Rutog".[2] Tourist guides often spell it as "Rutok".[3] Other spellings include Ruduk,[4] Ruthog,[5] and Rodakh.[6]
  2. ^ Luciano Petech transliterates the name as Ru-t'og,[8] while Zahiruddin Ahmad writes Ru-thogs.[9]


  1. ^ Wakefield 1961, p. 118.
  2. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Rudok". Encyclopædia Britannica. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 815.
  3. ^ a b Mayhew, Bradley; Bellezza, John Vincent; Kelley, Robert (2008), Tibet, Lonely Planet, pp. 237–238 – via
  4. ^ Strachey, Capt. H. (1853). "Physical Geography of Western Tibet". The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Volume 23. Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain). pp. 1–68.
  5. ^ Cunningham 1854, pp. 327–328.
  6. ^ Handa 2001, pp. 159–160.
  7. ^ Report of the Officials 2016, p. 341: 'During the discussions the Chinese side cited a document which stated that "Chushul was very close to the Naga of Mordo of Rudok Dzong".' [The term in this context means the district administered by Rudok Dzong.]
  8. ^ Petech 1977, p. 30.
  9. ^ Ahmad 1963, p. 30.
  10. ^ Wakefield 1961, pp. 127–128.
  11. ^ a b Chan 1994, p. 980.
  12. ^ Lonely Planet 1999, p. 280.
  13. ^ Chan 1994, p. 981.
  14. ^ Fisher, Rose & Huttenback 1963, p. 13.
  15. ^ Howard & Howard 2014, p. 83.


Historical and scholarly sources
Travel literature
  • Chan, Victor (1994), Tibet Handbook, Chico, CA: Moon Publications – via
  • Mayhew, Bradley; Bellezza, John Vincent; Wheeler, Tony; Taylor, Chris (1999), Tibet, Lonely Planet – via
Official reports