Ganzi Town (In Tibetan, Ganze, Garze, Kandze, etc.) lies in the expansive and strikingly beautiful Ganzi Valley, bounded on one side by rolling hills and on the other by craggy rock ridges. The town itself is a bustling place, the last thing one expects to find in this valley at the end of a twelve-hour bus ride from Kangding. The main intersection of town roars and rumbles as trucks, people, cabs, motorcycles, and the occasional horse compete for space. Ganzi Town is one of my favorite places in western Sichuan. The town's religious life is dominated by the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. Ganzi Monastery, an enormous Gelukpa institution, towers over town; many of the monks who walk the city's streets seem to be on their way to or from this imposing monastery. The lively market town of Ganzi sits in a valley at 3800 m, surrounded by the sleeping giants of Chola Mountain. Some 385 km northwest of Kangding, Ganzi is the capital of the Ganzi (Garze) Autonomous Prefecture and is mostly populated by Tibetans and Khambas.
Ganzi sees a growing number of foreigners sojourning here as an intermediate stop between Serxu and Kangding or on their way west to Dege. It is a friendly place to spend a night and has a lamasery that is well worth a visit.
Ganzi Lamasery (Garze Gompa in Tibetan) is a lamasery situated just north of the town's Tibetan Quarter. Over 540 years old, it glimmers with blinding quantities of gold. Encased on the walls of the main hall are hundreds of small golden Sakyamunis. In a smaller hall just west of the main hall is an awe-inspiring statue of Jampa (Maitreya or Future Buddha), dressed in a giant silk robe.