Tibet » » Tibet at a Glance

Tibet has long enjoyed the reputation of being "the Roof of the World", with an average altitude of over 4,000 meters. This is a land of snow-capped mountains, deep tropical rainforests and open pastureland. Its treasures include Mt. Qomolangma- the highest peak in the world on the Sino-Nepalese border, the winding Yarlung Tsangbo River, ancient ruins, palaces, monasteries and a deeply religious cultural heritage.

Glimpses of Tibet
Location: South Asia
Area: 471,700 sq.miles
Capital: Lhasa
Population: 2.62 million
Religion: Tibetan Buddhism, Animism
Currency: Chinese Yuan

Places to visit (in and around Lhasa)

Lhasa:
Situated at an altitude of 11,850 ft on the north bank of Kyichu river, it is a religious, cultural and economic center of Tibet. Places of tourist interest include the Potala palace, Drepung and Sera Monasteries, Norbulingka; the Jokhang temple, the circular Barkhor Street.

Potala Palace:
Located on the hill top, it was built in 640 A.D. during the reign of Songtsan Gampo. The palace is a centre of spiritual pilgrimage and Tibetan architecture. The fifth Dalai Lama, Gyelwa Ngapa began the construction of the present Potala palace in 1645 and was completed in 1648. This 13 storied palace with thousand rooms rising over 117 meters served as the headquarters of the former church state of Tibet and was home to successive Dalai Lamas who used it as their winter Palace. The palace contains invaluable murals , stupas , carvings , sculptures, cultural relics , thankas , scrolled texts and ancient chinaware.

Drepung Monastery
Situated to the west of Lhasa city, it was founded in 1416 by one of the disciples of Tsong Khapa. It was the largest and richest of the three major yellow sect monasteries that covers an area of 250,000 sq meters in Lhasa.

Sera Monastery

Located 3 km north of Lhasa, this monastery belongs to Gelugpa sect and was founded in 1419 A.D. by Jamchen Choeje , a disciple of Tsong Kapa. Sera was a monastic university which was smaller than Drepung but similar in its layout of buildings. There are four main temples with numerous chapels dedicated to Tsong Khapa , Sakyamuni , Dharmapala , Amitabha , Yamadhaka and other deities . One of the temples constructed with 108 pillars has an imposing statue of Maitreya Buddha.

Norbulingka
It is a large complex of small palaces and chapels served as the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas, built at various periods from 1750. It lies about 4 km west of the Potala palace. The colorful garden is a favorite picnic spot and during the Shoton Festival Tibetan dances and Opera are performed here.

Jokhang Temple
It is the spiritual, religious and geographical center of Lhasa. Situated in the heart of old Lhasa , the original Jokhang was built by the emperor Songten Gampo in the 7th century. Jokhang has many chapels which hold the statues of Jowo Shakyamuni , Amithabha Buddha , Maitreya Buddha , Avalokiteswara , Padmashambhawa and Tsongkapa. Visit Barkhor Lhasa inner pilgrim circuit shaped roughly like an octagon which round the Jokhang lined with markets , shops , stalls.

Barkhor Street
The market of Barkhor circles the Jorkhang Temple. This market is the heart of Old Lhasa - a fascinating venue of people and activities with narrow streets, whitewashed stone homes and windows framed in black and brightly painted wood work. Bustling flee market is the place to buy souvenirs, Tibetan handicrafts and antiques.

Places to Visit (outside Lhasa)

Ganden Monastery
Located 47 km east of Lhasa on Wangbur mountain at an altitude of 3,800 m., this monastery belongs to Gelugpa's sect. It was the site where Tsong Khapa first meditated in order to choose a place for the main monastery. Now it is one of the great Gelukpa university monasteries in Tibet.

Tsedang
Situated 170 Km southeast of Lhasa in the Yarlung Valley, along the bank of the Tsangpo River, it was the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Tsedang is the capital town of Shannan area as well as a major tourist destination in Tibet with mild climate and rich natural resources

Gyantse
It is an agricultural town situated at an altitude of 3950 m. and 254 km southwest of Lhasa is famous for its wool carpets and the Palkhor Choide chorten. It is the third largest town in Tibet.

Namtso Lake
Lake Namtso is located about 260 kilometers from Lhasa City. With over 30 kilometers from north to south and over 70 kilometers from east to west, Lake Namtso covers a total area of more than 1,900 square kilometers. The lake is the second largest salt lake in China and the world's highest-altitude salt lake.

Xigatse
It is known for its Tashilhunpo monastery - the seat of the Panchen Lama, who is regarded as the reincarnation of the Buddha of endless enlightenment. This monastery was built in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama and this place is also popular for a bustling `free' market at the foot of the ruins of the Xigatse fortress where one can buy local handicrafts embedded with coral and turquoise, Tibetan daggers, Chinese porcelain and yak butter.

Zhangmu
Better known by a Tibetan name, Khasa, it is a small settlement clinging to a hillside 10 km inland from the friendship bridge across the Bhote koshi river. It is a major trading route between Tibet and Nepal. The hills around Zhangmu are heavily wooded with innumerable waterfalls in the summer and frozen 'icicles' during the winter.

Fixed Departure Tours ( departure every Tuesday and Saturday)

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