The capital of Tibet Autonomous region and situated at the north bank of Kyichu river, a tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo river, Lhasa has history of more than 1300 years. Lhasa is the main politics, economy, culture and religious center for the Tibet Autonomous region. The attractions of this city (3650 meters) are the magnificent Potala Palace, former seat of the Dalai Lamas, presides over the city. Built in 1645 at the top of a hill, the palace contains a thousand rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 religious statues. Besides, the famous Jhokhang temple, the Bhakor market, the Sera Monastery, the Drepung Monastery (the largest in Tibet) and the Norbulingkha are the major attractions of this ancient city.
Site around Lhasa:
The Potala Palace is surely one of the wonders of the world. It rises more than 3000meters over the valley floor. This legendary palace, built a top a single hill is synonymous with Tibet. First built in the 70th century, as a fortress by Tibet’s foremost king, Songtsen Gompo. It was expanded to its present structure during the 17th century by the 05th. Dalai Lama. The Potala was seat and symbol of the Dalai Lama unique rule over the temporal and spiritual affairs of Tibet. This 13 storey, 1000 rooms, living quarter of the Dalai Lamas apartments for Regents, Tutors, High Lamas, splendid ceremonial areas, offices of Chapel, Shrine and corridors, Treasuries, cell for monks and servants, granaries and store rooms. The 05th Dalai Lama Kundung (chorden) is covered with 3700 gold and the 13th Dalai Lama, with a ton of gold besides priceless jewels. The palace of Dalai Lamas have now become more a museum than a palace.
Situated in the heart of old Lhasa, houses which was brought as a gift by the Chinese princes Wen Cheng on the occasion of her wedding the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gompo. It is four-storey temple in the Tang style, but also incorporates features of Nepalese and Indian architecture. The temple enshrines the statues of Shakyamuni, which was said to be brought to Tibet by Princess Wen Cheng. Surrounding the Jokhang Temple is the bustling Bharkhor market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa. The ceremony of for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama is held in front of the statue of Shakyamuni.
The “Jewel Pard” as it is known in Tibetan, was built in the 18th century and served as the summer Palace of the 13th and the 14th Dalai Lamas. The palace is an interesting mixture of religious and modern elements and as we walk through to see the main throne hall, an audience hall, The Dalai Lama’s Bed room and prayer room and the room for his mother. This colorful garden landscape was the site of picnic and public gatherings. The Palaces are richly decorated, creating an atmosphere of peaceful repose.
Drepung lies 8 kilometers west of Lhasa on the main road, the 3 kilometers north and steep unpaired road. Its name Drepung Means “Rice Heap”, was the biggest and the richest of all monasteries in Tibet. This monastery is said to be the largest monastery in the world, housing over 1000 monks and governed 7700 subsidiary monasteries and was divided into four colleges, each with its chanting hall, dormitories, kitchens and offices. It was founded in 1416 by the disciple of Je Tsonkhapa, founder of the Yellow Hat Gelukpa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The second, third and fourth Dalai Lamas lived and were entombed here. The entire monastic communities assemble only for special ceremonies and festivals. Today, about 400 monks lived there. Approaching drepung, you will see the Nechung Temple, the home of the State Oracle the something to sell over there.
Walk along Bhakhor street that circles the Jolkhang Temple and you are in the heart of the old Lhasa with its narrow streets white-washed stone homes, windows farmed in black and brightly painted woodwork and almost everyone has got something to sell over there.
Shigatse (altitude 3,900 meters) lies some 274 kilometers to the west of Lhasa and is Tibet’s second largest city. The highway runs alongside the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) river passing through narrow gorges and broad river valleys. Farmers plowing their fields with yaks, sheep grazing on the vast plains, awesome sand dunes and rocky hills in the distance are the scenic rewards of this journey. The Tashilhunpo Monastery, built in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama, is Shigatse’s most important cultural and religious site. the main chapel here contain images of Shakyamuni (the present Buddha), white and green taras and embalmed bodies of past Panchain Lamas.
Site around Shigatse:
Founded in 1447 by Dendun Drup, the first Dalai Lama. Tashilumpo is the largest monastery in Ulterior Tibet, and one of the four main monasteries of the Gelugpa Sector. It covers nearly 300,000 square meters It is the seat of the Panchen Lama who is second to the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy. The 05 the Dalai Lama declared that his teacher, then the Abbot of Tashilumpo, was a manifestation of the Buddha Amitabha and the fourth in line of incarnate Lamas who would henceforth be referred to by the title of Panchen Rinpoche, Tashilumpo has one of the world’s largest statues (26 m. high) gilded bronze statue of Maitriya, of the future Buddha.
Lies 143km to the southwest of Shigatse. Shakya monastery, the center of the Shakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, was founded in 1073 by Knochok Gyalpo. During the rule of the Shakyapa the priest patron relationship between Tibet and China was established. Shakyapa rulers reigned over Tibet for nearly a Hundred years from 13th-14th century. Many of its priceless images, frescos, statues holy scriptures remaining today date back to the time of its founding.
This town is situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters. About 94 kilometers from Shigatse. Gyangtse’s symbol is the Kumbum Stupa which is 32 meters high and contains 77 rooms and 100,000 images of the Buddha. A prince of Gyangtse had it built in 1427 by craftsmen from the Kathmandu valley. It is the finest example of 15th-century Newar art extent in the world. Pelkor Chode Monastery and Gyangtse fort (built atop a massive rock) are other major sights here. The road from Lhasa to Gyangtse (260 kilometers) takes you over three mountain passes: Ghampa La (4,794 meters), Sima La (4,380 meters high) and Karo La (5,045 meters) via Yamdrok Tso Lake. The scenery and the adventure of travelling on the old mule caravan route makes this excursion an unforgettable trip.
Site around Gyanste:
Kumbum is one of the most unique and magnificent buildings in Tibet consisting of 06 storey complete with a Buddhist hall and a prayer hall. It has 112 chapels and its wall are adorned with religious paintings. Built in the 15th century, it has withstood all battles and revolution since.
Palkhur Choide Monastery:
Located near the Kumbum, it was founded in the 15th century. It has been remarkably well preserved and many of the statues and paintings inside it date back to the time of its founding.
Tsedang is known as the cradle of Tibetan civilization, situated 170 kilometers southeast of Lhasa in the Yarlung Valley. This ancient town offers a number of side trips that illustrate Tibet’s early history. The valley of the Kings (ancient capital of the Yarlung kings who Established the Tibetan nation), the Yambu Lakhang Palace (built for the first Yarlung king), and the Tandruk Monastery (one of the three royal Buddhist temples) are some of the important sightseeing points.
Site around Tsedang:
Situated about 12 km south of Tsedang, is the first palace built by the Tibetans for their first recorded King Nyatri Tsedpo, who is believed to have descended from heaven. It is a 05 storey fortress-like dwelling built on the spur of a hill that commands an impressive view of the entire fertile valley. It was destroyed during the cultural revolution and the present structure is an exact replica of the original rebuilt 1982.
This monastery is situated about 40 km to the northwest of Tsedang town a crossing the Tsangpo river. Samye is the first monastery built by King Trisong Detsen in the 8 century. Samye monastery combines 3 distinctive architectural styles that of India, China and Tibet, symbolizing the source, stability and spread of the Buddhist teachings.
In a valley south of Tsedang lie the famous tombs of the early kings of Tibet. Among the numerous tombs there, the biggest and the most distinguished one is that of King Songtsen Gompo, the foremost king of Tibet.
Pilgrimage to Mansarovar Lake and the Holy Mt. Kailash claimed to be the apex of the Hindu religious axis is also one of the highest mountains in Tibet at 22,022 feet, and Lake Mansarovar at 14,950 feet is said to be the highest fresh water lake in the world. Certainly it is difficult region to reach due to the variable and extreme weather conditions. We begin the tour by traveling to Kathmandu and departing by road to the Nepal/Tibet border town of Zhangmu where we initiate the tour-trekking to Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar Lake.