How Guge Kingdom Disappeared
The most mysterious thing about Guge Kingdom is how a kingdom with such rich and well-developed culture disappeared suddenly and completely. In the following hundreds of years after its disappearance, nearly no people knew that the Kingdom had ever existed. No destruction has been done to the construction and the streets there. No correction has been done to its characters and religion, even to the mural paintings and the art styles. The scene of the final ruin remains exactly the same as it happened. How all these happened has remained a mystery.
In the 17th century, missionaries from the west had come to the Guge Kingdom. At that time, the King of the Guge Kingdom was at odds with his brother, also the religious (Buddhist) leader of Guge. To confirm his own force, the King tried to weaken the power of Buddhism with the help of the western missionaries. In 1633, the monks staged a rebellion. The King’s brother secretly contacted with the Ladakh Kingdom and asked the Ladakh army to attack the capital of Guge Kingdom in an attempt to overthrow the Kingdom and take the place of the king. A cruel war began.
The war lasted for a long time. However, the Guge Palace built on top of a hill had the strongest defense in Tibet at that time. The only path to the top of the hill was a man-made tunnel. Because there were all cliffs on all sides of the hill, it was impossible to attack the palace. Then the people of Guge were forced to build a stone building beside the mountain. What the Ladakh army expected was that when the stone building was as high as the mountaintop, they could certainly reach the palace and defeat the Guge Kingdom.
However, they didn’t finish the stone building, which only reached 10-odd meters high (tourists can see the ruins of the building at the hillside now because it is the only stone building there, surrounded by the earthen buildings).
It is said that the stone building was not finished because the King of Guge, who lived at the top at that time, changed his mind. His people were forced to build the stone building day and night. The King heard their miserable singing and became very worried about them. Then he made his final decision.
There are two versions of the king’s decision. One is that the king jumped down the cliff and died. Guge Kingdom was defeated after his death. The other version is that the King surrendered to save his people.
According to the historic records, the second version is more credible. History about the local conflicts in Tibet and records on the activities of the first missionaries said that the last king of Guge Kingdom and his family were taken to the capital of Ladakh and put into prison.
No matter what was the King’s final fate, his people suffered a lot, of which the Dry Corpses’ Cave was a proof.
Guge Kingdom had a population of 100,000 when it was prosperous. What happened to the people was also a mystery. The number of the corpses in the cave was far less than 100,000. The desertifications of the oasis, other natural disasters or plagues were not enough to explain the sudden disappearance of the whole nation and its civilization. If they migrated to other places, there must be some Guge descendants who know about the Guge history. However, it seems that no one know about Kingdom and no persuasive evidence leads to the answer.