Yet when she asked local residents about the towers—Who built them? When? Why?—nobody seemed to have a clue.

Darragon was especially intrigued by the more than 40 roughly star-shaped towers she encountered. Some have 8 points, others 12. In both configurations, star-shaped towers are rare, scholars say. At least two others can be found in Afghanistan, including the Minaret of Bahram Shah in Ghazni. Darragon speculates that the star shape makes the Chinese structures less susceptible to tremors. “All the people I asked in the villages said the towers resist earthquakes,” Darragon says. And, in fact, she found that the only towers still standing in the Kongpo area of Tibet are star-shaped, though it’s certainly conceivable that those structures have survived for reasons other than their supposed earthquake resistance.


Living in the area monks were not able to shed light on these puzzling structures that in some way, do not fit the landscape of the Himalayas.

The star-shaped towers have never been mentioned in centuries-old monastery documents.

Furthermore, no trace of this Tibetan mystery could be found in the Chinese chronicles and other older diaries and records of Western travelers who might in fact see them while passing by the region of Sichuan Province.

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