Located in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Region of Sichuan province in China, the town of Xiangcheng (乡城) is in a scenic valley which stands at an altitude of 3,200 meters. Xiangcheng Town is also referred to as Chaktreng Town (ཕྱག་ཕྲེང་།) in Tibetan, which means ‘rosaries in Buddha’s hands’.
From a Small Village to a Bustling Town
Previously, Xiangcheng was a small village up in the highlands of northern Tibet. Relying heavily on agriculture, Xiangcheng Village was nestled between wheat paddy fields, and produced dairy products to sell across the county. Local Tibetans built large, cubical stone houses with white walls and colorful decorations around the windows, located alongside the Shuqu River. These small castle-like houses are very different from traditional Khampa houses and radiate a North African flair.
Today, Xiangcheng Town still has acres of wheat fields and traditional square houses, but has seen heavy development converting it into a bustling rural town. Hotels, restaurants, outdoor cafes and stores selling essentials and Tibetan artifacts have sprung up in town. Xiangcheng Town, is a beautiful valley village with a modern Chinese downtown.
History of Xiangcheng Village
Xiangcheng was regarded as the White Wolf State during the rule of Eastern Han, Three Kingdoms, Wei, Jin, and the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Since the Xiangcheng region is surrounded by huge mountains from all sides, it remained as a remote location along the ancient caravan route that connected Yunan with Sichuan and Tibet. Strategically located, Xiangcheng people had firm characters displaying ruthlessness and unfriendliness to outsiders. When Joseph Rock came to see the area more than 80 years ago, he found Xiangcheng difficult to access as it was ruled by Sashatimba, who was an outlaw chief living at the Sangpiliang Monastery.
Chaktreng Monastery, also known as Chaktreng Gompa or Xiangcheng Monastery, was originally built in 1669 and belongs to the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chaktreng Monastery stands above the town and provides great views of the agricultural valley and stone houses. The Chaktreng Gompa overlooks the Chinese Martyr’s Cemetery. The Chaktreng Gompa has been reconstructed beautifully by painters, carvers, and carpenters to reflect the original temple.
Bamu Mountain falls just outside the two to the west and is an impressive peak of many granite spires. There are a lot of waterfalls, the famous Bamu Lake, bizarre stones, protected animals, and rare flora in the Bamu mountainous area. Bamu Mountain and Lake are spread over 432 hectares. Bamu Mountain is considered to be holy as the spirit Jawarenga is said to dwell in the mountain.