Gyangze, which means "the peak of victory and the top of a chieftain's palace" in the Tibetan language, is located in the southern part of Tibet Autonomous Region and to the north bank of the upper reaches of the Nyang Qu River, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River. As the Nyang Qu River flows through here, Gyangze region has been called "Nyang" throughout history. It was called "Gyangze Zong" in the Qing Dynasty and was governed by the local government of Gaxag in Anterior Tibet.
Historically, Gyangze was the capital city of the ancient Supi Tribe. After Namri Songtsen, father of Songtsen Gampo, defeated the Supi Tribe, Gyangze was divided between nobles. Gyangze has a history of 600 years, a little longer than that of Shigatse. Because it is located on the road that leads to Sikkim and Bhutan, and passes through Sakya, Shigatse and Yadong, and has fertile land and plentiful material resources, Gyangze region has become an important place for commercial interaction and developed into a key area linking Anterior Tibet and the Shigatse region. Gyangze is a major town in Tibet. It is located in the westernmost Tibet and is 254 kilometers away from Lhasa. In the town, the stone roads are covered by loess, there are shops opened by Tibetans and Hans, and the Tibetan shopkeepers will twiddle prayer beads and chant scripture amid the noisy sounds of Hong Kong movies in video halls around. All of which makes Gyangze a typical modern town in Tibet.
However, Gyangze is best-known as "the city of heroes." There is a deep history of resisting foreign aggressors full of heroic and moving deeds in the town. On the top of the mountain at the center of Gyangze County stands a castle, which is called the "Zongshan Castle," and is the world-famous site of the resistance against Britain. The "Zongshan Castle" has another famous name, called "the city of heroes," and the fort barbettes used by the Gyangze people to resist the British and safeguard their territory in 1904 still exist. Nearly 100 years ago, the Gyangze people had written a heroic chapter of revolting against foreign aggressors and defending the sovereignty and territory of their motherland.
The Palkor Monastery in the town is a famous monastery that has two main features. One is that there are three schools in the monastery. It originally belonged to the Sakya Sect, but later the Kardam Sect and Gelug Sect came. The three sects had once excluded each other and at last they reached a compromise. The Palkor Monastery now belongs to the three sects, so buildings in the monastery and the overall architectural style have also integrated the advantages of the three sects. The second feature is the Bodhi Pagoda, the symbol of the Palkor Monastery. It was built with about 100 overlapped Buddha halls and was called the "tower in towers." There are a total of 100,000 figures of Buddha in the halls, niches and wall paintings, and therefore, the pagoda is better known as "the pagoda with 100,000 figures of Buddha," with its official name, the Bodhi Pagoda, seldom used. Its Tibetan name “Bankuoqudian” means literally “a pagoda in eddies of water,” and the water is from the Nyang Qu River.
The Dama Festival in Gyangze has 500 years of history. It is said that during the Sa'ying Dynasty, Paba Sangbu, a chieftain of Gyangze, enjoyed high prestige among the people. After Paba Sangbu died, his disciples offered him a sacrifice every year. Later, the sacrifice stopped due to war. In 1408 A.D., when Paba Sangbu's son Gongsang Raopa became the chieftain of Gyangze, he resumed the sacrifices. Between April 10 and April 27 of 1408 A.D., Gongsang Raopa had offered his father sacrifices and chanted scripture for him and also held recreational activities. These activities mainly included religious activities such as an exhibition of Buddha figures and a sorcerers' dance with masks performance, as well as recreational activities such as wrestling. In 1447 A.D. when Zhaxi Raodan became the chieftain of Gyangze, other forms of entertainment including riding and shooting, Tibetan Opera, and song and dance, were added into the Dama Festival, which has then lasted to today.