SIGHTSEEING DESTINATIONS IN TIBET
(7,000 ft.) better known by its Tibetan name, Khasa, is a small
settlement clinging to a hillside 10 km. inland from the
Friendship Bridge across the Bhote Koshi River. After the
closure of the China/India border from Gangtok, Zhangmu has
become the major trading post between Tibet and Nepal. The
climate is quite different from the hinterland. The hills around
Zhangmu are heavily wooded with innumerable waterfalls in the
summer and frozen 'icicles' during the winter. It has a bank, a
post office, a government store, and is presently undergoing a
construction boom to meet the demands of trade and tourism.
Nyalamu (12,200 ft.), known as 'Kuti'
to Nepalese traders, used to be an important trade post tucked
into a fertile valley. Nowadays, barrack style Chinese communes
surround the typical old, flat-roofed, mud-brick houses.
Although vegetation is sparse, one can see an abundance of
alpine fauna on the hillside during the summer months.
Gutsuo (14,200 ft.) is a military
base camp situated at the start of the plateau, after passing
through the Thongla Pass (16,400 ft.) from where a most
panoramic views of the northern face of the Himalayan range
unfolds. The best view of Mt. Everest and its neighboring peaks
can be seen from the road at Gutsuo. Accommodation here would be
intended camps or at the barracks itself.
Xegar (13,800 ft.) is a new
Chinese commune built at the foot of the ruins of Xegar Dzong
and is 7 km. from the main road. With a population of 3,000, its
importance lies in the fact that it is the center of this large
and remote country and also a base from where expeditions to Mt.
Everest and other peaks are launched.
Lhaze (13,100 ft.) is situated at
the crossroad from where the road turns westwards towards Mt.
Kailash and Mansarovar Lake. During the short summer season, the
whole valley is covered with green barley fields and bright
yellow mustard meadows, and is a welcome change after the barren
lands of the Tibetan plateau. There is also a small hot spring
located a few kilometers away.
Xigatse (12,600 ft.) is most
famous for its Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen
Lama, who is regarded as the reincarnation of the Buddha of
Endless Enlightenment. Items of interest inside this monastery
built in 1447 A.D. by the first Dalai Lama are: the relics of
Shakyamuni, the Hall of Maitreya, and a mind boggling
collection of Thankas, frescoes and statues. There is a bustling
'free' marker 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.
Gyanstse (13,050 ft.) is a small
agricultural town famous for its woolen carpets and the Phalkor
Choide Chorten. Amongst the Lamasery and the fort, this unique
structure built in 1414 consist of five storeys representing the
five steps to enlightenment, topped by thirteen rings which
symbolize the stages of advancement towards Buddhahood. There
are 108 halls inside, each with frescoes and Buddha Shrines, the
frescoes showing a strong Indian influence. Before 1959 A.D.
traders coming from Kalimpong and Gangtok (India) used to enter
Tibet through Yadong and then to Gyantse, enrouted to Lhasa.
Nagarje (14,300 ft.) is a
settlement by the shores of Yamdrok Lake. This fresh water lake,
unlike other Tibetan lakes, is sweet and non saline, extending
for 624 sq. km., in the shape of the two pincers of a large
scorpion. During summer, it is turquoise green in color, but
during winter it has a thick crust of ice over it. It is
abundant in fish and migratory birds can be seen in its
vicinity. At a mountain pass of 16,000 ft. enroute Nagarje one
can see, even in summer, the holy pin-pointed glacier.
(11,850 ft.) was, and still is, the religious, cultural and
economic center of Tibet. Place of interest include the Potala,
the 13 storey, 1000 room palace of the Dalai Lama; the
monasteries of Drepung and Sera, the summer palace of the Dalai
Lama, Norbulingka; and the Jakhang the holiest shrine of Tibet.
The circular Barkhor Street with innumerable shops and wayside
peddlers intermingle with the devotees walking clockwise around
the Jokhang enfusing the magic that is Tibet.
SERA MONASTERY: Sera means
hail-stone in Tibetan. Situated on the foot of the Wudu Hill to
the nouth of Lhasa city, Sera comprises of a great sutra
chanting hall, a college and 32 sections.
JOKHANG TEMPLE: Jokhang Temple
built in 647 A.D. is the spiritual center of Tibet and the
holiest destination for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. It houses the
sitting statue of Shakyamuni when he was 12 years old.
Barkhor Bazaar is the oldest
street of ancient Lhasa City, circling the Jokhang Temple.
POTALA PALACE: Potala palace,
located on the Red Hill, was built in 640 A.D. during the reign
of King Songtsen Gampo. The original Potala palace was destroyed
in the 9th century but was rebuilt in the 17th
century, during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama.
DREPUNG MONASTERY: It is situated
to the west of Lhasa City and was founded in 1417 A.D. by one of
the disciples of Tsong Khapa. It was the largest and richest of
the three major yellow sect monasteries in Lhasa.