Dege (Derge) is located in Garze (Ganzi) Tibet Autonomous Prefecture (དཀར་མཛེས་བོད་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ་) in the Kham region (ཁམས) of the Tibetan Plateau. Dege (སྡེ་དགེ།) is famous across Tibet for being home of the Barkhang (Parkhang) Scripture Printing House. The Barkhang was founded in 1729 and took 21 years to build. It holds over 250,000 hand engraved wood blocks which are used in publishing Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and books on Tibetan culture. It is estimated that the Barkhang, pictured above, contains up to 70% of Tibet's literary heritage. The Barkhang is considered to be a holy place to Tibetans. Each day there are hundreds on pilgrims walking the kora around the printing house (bottom picture). Artisans continue to carve the wood blocks into scripture templates each day. It is incredible to see these highly skilled people carving portions of Buddhist scripture into the wood.
You can't travel for long in Kham without hearing about the legendary King Gesar of Ling. Though Tibetans from both Yushu and Golog lay claim as being the birthplace of Gesar, the king was most likely born on the Axu grasslands in Dege, though it is impossible to know for sure. The Axu grasslands can easily be reached by car from the town center.
Dege sits in a wooded valley at an elevation of 3200m/10,500 feet. It has some of the best hiking in the Kham region. East of Dege about 100kms is the small town of Manigango which is another stunning area with Mt Chola and Yilhun Lha Lake to explore. Dege is remote and not easy to get to, but it is one of the most amazing regions in Tibet. Dege is considered the cultural heart of Kham. It is one of the best places to see traditional Tibetan culture. The few people who do make their way to Dege are rewarded with a beautiful setting and a glimpse of the old way of Tibetan life.
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