Tibet Highland Expedition

Highlights Of Tibet

Lhasa City:
Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet, it's 3650metters above sealevel.It was the only ancient city in Tibet. Today,you can visit the Jokang Tempel,Potala Palace,Norbulingka the summer palace and the Barkhor market in the city. "Lhasa" means the holy land


Potala Palace:
This legendary palace built a top,a single hill is synonymous with Tibet.First built in the 7th century as a fortress by Tibet's foremost king,

Songtsan Gampo,it was later expanded to its present structure during the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama.This 13 story,1000 room citadel served as the headquarters of the former 'church state' of Tibet and was home to the successive Dalai Lamas,who from the latter half of the 18th century used it as their winter palace.

Norbulinka
Norbulinka is "Jeweled Garden" in local language has 160000 sq.meters of wooded greenery and three beautiful palaces.

Sera Monastery:
Another popular monastery is Sera Monastery with nine-meter figure of Maitraya,which was erected in 1419,It is 9 km north of Lhasa.

The Jokhang Temple;
Situated in the heart of Old Lhasa,it houses Tibet's most precious religious relics,a golden Shakyamuni Buddha which was brought as a gift by the Chinese Princess Wen Ching on the occasion of her wedding to the Tibetan King,Songtsan Gampo. Surrounding the Jokhang Temple is the bustling Barkhor market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa.

Drepung Monastery:
Said to be largest monastery in the world housing over 10,000 monks,it was founded in AD 1416 by the disciple of Tsonkhapa,founder of the Gelugpa Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism.The Second, Third,and Fourth Dalai Lamas lived and were entombed here.Drepung in Tibetan means "mound of rice".

Gyantse:
Gyantse is a pastoral town between Lhasa and Shigatse.It is 264 Kilometers south west of Lhasa and still retains the charm of a traditional Tibetan town untouched by modern expansion.It made world headlines in 1904 when Colonel Young-Husband led a British Expedition to Tibet and defeated the Tibetan army there.As a cross road on the principal trade route to India,it was once renowned for the excellence of its carpets. The compound,encircled by an impressive wall once contained 19 monasteries presided over by the still fortress perched atop a nearby mountain.

Kumbum Stupa:
This building in Gyantse is one of the most unique and magnificent in Tibet consisting of 6 Stories complete with a Buddhist Hall and a prayer hall.It has 112 chapels and its walls are adorned with religious paintings.Built in the 15th Century,it has since then withstood all the ravages of battles and revolutions.

Pelkhor Chode Monastery:
Located next to Gyantse's Kumbum,it was founded in the 15th century.It has been remarkably well preserved and many of the statues and paintings inside date back to the time of its founding.

Shigatse:
Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and the capital of the Tsang province.It is 354 km west of Lhasa at an altitude of 3180 meters.

Tashilhunpo Monastery:
Founded in AD 1447 by Genden Drup, the First Dalai lama.It is the seat of the Panchen Lama who is second to the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy.The 5th Dalai Lama declared that his teacher,then the Abbot of Tashilhunpo,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.Tashilhunpo has one of the world's largest statues,a 9 storied gilded bronze statue of Maitreya,the future Buddha.

Shalu Monastery:
Shalu is 19 kilometers southwest of Shigatse.It was famous as a Tantric school where yogic
practices were taught and perfected.The architecture outside,especially the roof,is uniquely Chinese.

Sakya Monastery:
Sakya lies 143 kilometers to the southwest of Shigatse.Shaky Monastery,the center of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism,was founded in 1073 by Konchok Gyalpo.
During the rule of the Sakyapas,the priest/patron relationship between Tibet and China was established.Sakya rules reigned over Tibet for nearly a hundred years from the 13th to the 14th century.Many of its priceless images,statues,holy scriptures remaining today back to the time to its founding.

Samye Monastery:
Samye is the first monastery ever built in Tibet,over 1200 years ago.It was founded by the King Trisong.Detsen in 8 century.The special of this temple is compacted with Tibetan,Chinese and Indian style of architecture.The King Trisong Detsen invited Padmasambhava from India to help the settlement of the monastery.

Yarlung Valley:
The Tombs of Tibetan Kings in Chongkye County are the only tomb group of Tibet.Here are buried the kings,ministers and some royal concubines from the 29th generation to the last (40th) of "Tupo" Dynasty.Of all the tombs,the most remarkable is that of King Songtsan Gampo's.Yambulagang: Towering at the summit of Mt.Tashitseri Yambulagang is the first palace as well as one of the earliest constructions in Tibet.The legend says,it was established by Bon religious believers for the first Tibetan King Nyetri Tsampo during the 2nd century B.C., and later it turned to be the summer palace of King Songtsan Gampo and Princess Wencheng.In the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama,it was converted to a monastery of the Yellow Sect.

Western Tibet:
Kailash,Kang Rinpoche or Precious Snow Mountain (6714m)Collectively known as Kangri Tsosum Ponri Ngaden,Lake Manasarovar & Kailash are said to lie at the heart of the ancient Shangshung Kingdom, the supposed land of origin of the pre-Buddhist Bonpo.Kailash is their soul mountain,which they also call Yungdrung Gu Tse (Nine-Storey Swastika Mountain).This is the place where their legendary founder,Tongpa Shenrab descended from heaven to earth.

In the 11th C with the revival and ascendancy of Buddhism in Tibet, Milarepa was the dominant influence in the area.He defeated his Bonpo archrival,Naro Bonchung,in a series of magical contests.Relic traces of this epic battle can be seen from time to time along the khora.From the 12th C the Kagyupa flourished around the mountain.Monasteries and retreats sprang up and pilgrims arrived in large numbers to pay homage to Kang Rinpoche.To Buddhists it is the abode of Demchok, the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Sakyamuni.To Hindus it is the dwelling of Shiva, the destroyer and according to the Sanskrit tradition of Vishnu Purana(200BC)it is a representation of Mt.Sumeru, the cosmic mountain at the center of the universe.
Four major rivers have their sources here.The Indus,the Satlej,the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) and the Karnali.The holy Ganges also originates in the area.Tibetans consider all these rivers sacred and their sources even more so.

The Guge Kingdom:
According to Tibetan historical annals,after the sudden death of Tsampo Lhangdama,the last king of the Tubo Kingdom,in the wake of his persecution of Buddhists, his two rival sons, Yundan and Osong,were locked in a bloody war for the throne which continued for two generations.Osong's son was killed by the soldiers of his rival kin and his two orphaned sons fled Lhasa. Jede, the elder of the two, took refuge in Ngari where he married the local chieftain's daughter who borne him three sons. The youngest had a son named Keri who became founder of the Guge Kingdom whose territory once included all the farm and pasture land in southern Ngari.A hill of about 300 meters high stands to the south of Xiangquan River (Langqen Kanbab) in Tsada County.
A complex of palaces,temples,fortifications, Buddhist pagodas and military tunnels right up the slope of the hill form the ruins of a lost kingdom.The construction began in the 10th century and was continuously expanded by 16 successive kings until the 16th century.These imposing buildings on the treacherous slope are connected by tunnels and protected by solid fortifications.The Kingdom of Guge played an important role in the rival of Tibetan Buddhism. The Guge kings were ardent advocates of the religion who sent envoys to India to invite Buddhist masters to Tibet and sponsored the translation of scriptures.The religious revival began in Ngari and extended to the entire Tibetan region. The kingdom also kept Tibet from repeated invasions by enemies from the west.A brutal battle in the 16th century brought the kingdom to an abrupt end.No writings can be found today about its fate there after and the ruins are the only evidence of the once majestic palaces and crushed glory.

As the visitor climbs up the hill slope,he can easily see the ruins of block houses,spacious palaces and glorious temples everywhere.The remains of painted sculptures and frescoes stand testimony to an art tradition that claimed splendor and diversity.The wealth of artifacts sealed stories of kings,ministers,clergymen and common people in the lost era of grandeur.  

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