- Tibet Quickfacts
- Things To Know Before You Go
- Entry Procedures for Tibet
- History/Tibetan Buddhism
- Places To See
- Friendship Highway
- Tibet Express
SMALL GROUP DEPARTURES
- Tibet in Depth, 9 days
HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME
- Splendours of China and Tibet, 18 days
Places To See in Tibet
This Himalayan city (population 1,100,000), the capital of Tibet, sits at an elevation of 12,000 ft / 3660m. Visible from almost any point in Lhasa is the Potala Palace. It was once the Dalai Lama's winter residence (he has been in exile in India since 1959), it is one of the world's architectural wonders. The entire building, consisting of 1,000 rooms, was created without the use of a single nail. Each of the 70 or so rooms that are open to the public has an atmosphere all its own. (Most are lit only by wicks stuck in yak butter.) The light reflects eerily off the gods, murals, and gold-plated figures.
A good introduction to Lhasa is the Barkhor Bazaar, where you could spend hours just watching people and shopping. In the midst of the bazaar is the fabulous Jokhang Temple, holiest of Tibetan Buddhist temples. It is filled by a steady stream of pilgrims who come to pay respect to their gods, represented in the temple by an incredible array of devotional art. Be sure to wander around the second floor, and don't be shy about sticking your head into rooms where craftsmen are creating additional gods.
Other sights around Lhasa include the Sera and Drepung Monasteries and the Summer Palace. The famed "sky burials" (where corpses are flayed, cut up and left to the vultures) of Sera have caused increasingly aggressive confrontations between foreign tourists taking photos and domden (undertakers) trying to carry out their religious duties. You really need a strong stomach to observe this "attraction," and most people don't bother with it. Allow three or four days to see Lhasa. (You'll want to do nothing but rest on the first full day, in order to acclimatize to the altitude.)
Two other locations of interest are the towns of Shigatze and Gyantse. Shigatze literally means "fertile land" in Tibetan language. It is the second largest city in Tibet. It is also the official residence of the Panchen Lama who ranks next to the Dalai Lama in Tibet. The city, with a population of 80,000, has been the political, economical and religious centre in Southern Tibet.
Gyantse means "peak of success" in Tibetan. With a population of 60,000, it is a small agricultural town and an important post along the ancient Tea and Horse Trading Route between Tibet, China and India. Gyantse is well known for its famous Tibetan Dzong (a fortress or an administrative building located on a hill top), and the monastery called the Pelkor. The local famous specialties are tapestries and wool blankets.
Mt. Qomolangma (Everest)
This is the highest mountain peak in the world with a height of 8848m. The legend says the mountain is the manifestation of the third among the fairy sisters who are in charge of human-beings' wealth. The Tibetan name "Qomolangma" refers to the third Goddess in Tibetan. The road into and out of Everest Base Camp (elevation 5300m) is unpaved gravel and a little rough. There is a small tent village and guest house (very basic) and an economy hotel plus the Rongphu Monastery, the World's highest.
Dalai Lama Summer Palace