Tibet, the roof of the world, is a mysteriously beautiful place. The land keeps its centuries-old traditions, religious culture, and untouched pristine natural scenery. Here, below the top 10 things to do in Tibet according to their popularity among tourists.
Explore Lhasa, the capital of Tibet
Lhasa is the heart and soul of Tibet. It’s a city with lots of wonders. Here, visit Potala Palace, a vast white and ochre fortress soaring over one of the world’s highest cities. Go down into the bowls of the Potala, the impressive but spiritless citadel of the Dalai Lamas from the 5th to 14th. Join the shuffling lines of awed pilgrims around the glowing shrines of the Jokhang, the holiest temple of Tibet. Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around Barkhor, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit. Take in a prayer meeting or some monk debating at Sera and Drepung, two great monasteries around Lhasa. Walk on the backstreets of Lhasa to see traditional whitewashed architecture, teashops and craft workshops.
Travel to Gyantse to see Kumbum Chorten
Gyantse is one of the more pleasant towns in Tibet. This city is famed for the Gyantse Kumbum, the largest chorten (temple) in Tibet. The white chorten, a magnificent tiered structure, contains a seemingly endless series of mural filled chapels including 10,000 Buddha images. Most people rush through Gyantse stopping only to see the Kumbum stupa. Go into the massive Pelkor Chode Monastery. A climb up nearby Gyantse Dzong will give you a clear birds-eye view of the original extent of the monastery and a sense of what a bustling place it must have been.
Appreciate Tibetan Architecture at Tashilunpo Monastery in Shigatse
About 250 km southwest of Lhasa, or 90 km northwest of Gyantse, lies Shigatse, the second largest town in Tibet. Here, its landmark Tashilunpo Monastery draws the attention of every traveler. Tashilhunpo Monastery is the seat of the Panchen Lama; the second high rang after Dalai Lama among Tibetan Buddhist community. The monastery architecture is a grand view to behold. From the entrance to the monastery, visitors get a grand view. Topping the red building complex are gold roofs that shine under the sunshine. Around the monastery, you can follow a busy cobbled pilgrimage circuit.
Visit Samye Monastery, the birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism
Samye Monastery was the first monastery built in Tibet and the place where Tibetan Buddhism was established. Inside the monastery, there are numerous frescos, sculptures, and prayer wheels. The monastery is set in a valley surrounded by barren mountains and sand dunes. The scenery around is austerely striking. It is located in Shannan Prefecture, 1.5 hours’ drive from Tsetang. When going to visit this monastery it will be worthwhile to visit Yumbulagang Palace also in Tsetang. Yumbulagang is considered the oldest building in Tibet. This is a remarkably impressive sight with a lovely setting.
Enjoy on the pristine beauty of Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake is one of the Tibet’s holiest lakes. It is located at 4441m above sea level in a high bowl above the Brahmaputra River. It offers stunning scenery. On clear days it is a fabulous shade of deep turquoise. On the lakeside, there are Tibetan villages and fields of yaks. It is a refreshing experience to see a lake after the cultural experiences of Lhasa. Devout Tibetan pilgrims circumambulate this lake in around seven days. Most of the travelers are content with a glimpse of the lake from Kamba-la pass (4700 m). Far in the distance from this lake is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangtsang (7191m). The road to the lake is closed each year from November to March, because of snow and ice.
Set foot on the base camp of world’s tallest mountain – Mount Everest
It’s a dream of every traveler in Tibet to be at the base camp of Mount Everest. From Lhasa, you can do an overland trip to the northern base camp of Mt. Everest following the friendship highway to Nepal. This trip offers the opportunity to gaze on the magnificent north face of the world’s tallest peak, Everest. In the Tibetan language, this peak is named of Qomolangma. Travel to Mount Everest is relatively expensive. Some travelers prefer to join a group to share the price. But it is better to take a private tour so that you will be cared for individually by a private guide. While touring to Everest Base Camp also visit Rongbuk Monastery on the way. This monastery is considered at the highest monastery in Tibet and also in the world.
Detour to Sakya Monastery, the major temple of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism
When traveling to Everest Base Camp, it’s wise to the detour of Sakya Monastery. It is one of the Tibet’s most impressive man-made sights and also one of the largest monasteries in Tibet. This monastery is the principal temple for the Sakyapa group in Tibetan Buddhist. It was established in 1268 A.D. It is spectacular for the tourists as it has a collection of Tibetan murals, sacred Buddhist scroll books, and amazing thangka paintings. Some scrolls housed here are written with gold. Its main hall can accommodate 10,000 chanting monks. A few things to look specifically for in the hall are the huge drum and massive sacred pillars that hold up the ceilings. The famous Mongol ruler of China, Kublan Khan, visited this monastery in the 13th century.
Experience the heavenly Lake- Namtso
In Tibetan holy script Namtso Lake is described as the ‘Heavenly Lake’. It is true that you can have heavenly experience thereby seeing its stunning beauty, pure blue water, open grassland with many yak herds and local nomads. Namtso Lake is the second largest saltwater lake in China and one of the most beautiful natural sights in Tibet. The lake is in the altitude of 4718 meters accessed by a 5100 meters mountain pass. It is reachable from Lhasa in distance of 220 kilometers by four and half hours of drive. It’s breathtaking to view the sunrises and sunsets from Namtso. The wide lake and the snow-capped Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains catch the low angle rays of the sun beautifully. The road to Namtso is typically closed from December to March. April and November are still very cold; sometimes the road is still closed due to bad weather. October often brings heavy snowstorms. So the best time to travel is from June to September, with warmer weather and higher oxygen content.
Go kora of Mount Kailash following footsteps of pilgrims
Mount Kailash is the holiest mountain peak of the followers of Asia’s four major religions: Hindus, Buddhist, Jains and Bon. This dome-shaped, snowcapped mountain is located in a sublimely beautiful area of far western Tibet. In the local language, it calls Kangrinpoqe means ‘Precious Jewel Snow Mountain’. This holy mountain is also the source of four major rivers of Asia continent. They are Brahmaputra, Indus, Ganga and Satlaj River. Every year from May to September thousands of pilgrims walk around this mountain to achieve spiritual benefit. It’s a 52-km of the path to complete around this mountain. Pilgrims finish this by leisurely 3-days of hiking. It’s equally worth to visit when traveling Mount Kailash to visit its nearby two beautiful lakes: Mansarovar and Rakshas Tal. Hindu Pilgrims go for Mt. Kailash Kora after taking bath in Mansarovar Lake. Mount Kailash is difficult to travel to in the winter, so late spring to early autumn (May to September) is the best.
Discover the Lost Kingdom in Guge
The Guge Kingdom is a very mystical kingdom, which is no more alive today, is located far west of Tibet. It is approximately 300 kilometers west of Mount Kailash, 190 kilometers south from Shi-Quan-he, the administrative capital of the Ali Area. By the 10th century, this kingdom was a wealthy center supporting several thousands of people. It fell into ruin in 1674 A.D after a siege by the Ladakhi army. Now this kingdom has been turned into amazing cultural relic site. It remains the repository of historically important vanished artistic monuments. Here, it still exists five cultural heritages: the White Temple, Red Temple, Samsara Temple, Imperial Palace and Assembly Palace. These structures have many inscriptions, statues, and murals displayed inside. The remains of Tholing Monastery once a major center of Tibetan Buddhism.
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