The distinctive profile of Gyantse’s Kumbum is almost as recognizable as that of the Potala. Capped with a gilded dome and finial, the nine-storey chorten is a red-and-white wedding cake confection of 77 interlocking chapels, connected by a warren of narrow passages and stairways. Each contains an array of wrathful demons and deities, depicted in vibrant murals and life-sized effigies. Gyantse is known as the “hero city” for its resistance to Younghusband’s expedition of 1904.

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