Shigatse (official spelling: Xigazê; other spellings: Rìkāzé, Shigatse, Shikatse, Zhigatsey) is a county-level city and the second largest city in Tibet with a population of 80,000 about 250 km southwest of Lhasa. It was previously known as Samdruptse and the once-imposing Shigatse Dzong, or fort, (dismantled during the popular uprising of 1959), was the seat of the kings of Ü-Tsang and the capital of the province of Ü-Tsang or Tsang.
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. 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.
It is the administrative centre of modern Xigazê County in the Xigazê Prefecture, a region of Tibet.
It is located at an altitude of 3,840 metres (approx. 12.598 feet) at the confluence of the Yarlong Tsangpo (or Brahmaputra) and Nianchuhe rivers in west Tibet and was the ancient capital of U-Tsang province. It is also the name of the surrounding county.
It contains the huge Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama. 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. (...) more…
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