Tibet: The Top of the World

July 18, 2014

The land of the snows, the roof of the world – Tibet never fails to charm visitors from all over the world. Heavenly lakes, mysterious rivers and breathtaking landscape, Tibet is nature’s paradise and is sure to leave you amazed with an unforgettable experience of land, people and mysticism.

Lhasa:

lhasacity

The cultural, political and economic hub of Tibet, Lhasa is the heart and soul of Tibet, and an object of devout pilgrimage. Visit Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace, Jokhang Temple Sera and Drepung monasteries to explore the spiritual side in you. The Jokhang Temple and Barkhor circumbulation circuit is filled with pilgrims from all over and innumerable shops and wayside peddlers selling everything from prayer flags to yak skulls!

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Top 10 Travel Tips for Tibet

July 13, 2014

1. Don’t Forget Your Tibet Entry Permit:

All non-Chinese passport holders need a Tibet Entry Permit to visit Tibet, and the only way to enter Tibet is to travel in groups. No individual travelers are allowed to travel to Tibet at the moment. All tours must be booked in advance by a Chinese travel agency. Your whole tour in Tibet must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide.

2. Best Times to Visit:

In general, the best time to visit Tibet is from May to October when the weather is pleasant. It is also regarded as Tibet’s golden travel seasons.

3. Consider flying into Tibet and Taking a Train out:

The quickest and most convenient way is to fly in and fly out. But if you want to experience the train trip, and see amazing mountain plateau views then you should fly in and take a train out.

4. Plan Your Tour Far Enough in Advance:

All Tibet Tours must be booked at least 20 days in advance. Usually it takes 2-3 days to confirm hotel bookings and almost 10 days more for the Tibet Tourism Bureau to issue the Tibet Entry Permit. You should make sure you secure an Entry Permit, especially if new restrictions are brought in, before you apply for a visa and make the final preparations for your trip, unless you are willing to consider alternatives to Tibet once you arrive in China. If your travel is limited to areas around Lhasa, 4 days is enough whereas if you want to go to Mt. Everest, you are recommended at least one week duration for your Tibet visit.

5. What to Pack/Carry/Wear:

  • Clothes: Warm clothes, such as sweaters and fleeces are needed even in summer as the day-night temperature drop is big. A thick down coat is essential if you go to the Everest. If you go in the low season bring mountain winter clothes.
  • Lip cream: It is very dry so bring a lip cream to protect your lips.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen cream
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Almost all monasteries have steep steps to climb.
  • Snacks if your tour includes long road trips
  • Altitude sickness medicine: Taking the medicine one day before arriving at high altitude increases effectiveness.
  • Motion sickness medicine if you have motion sickness on long mountain road journeys.
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine: Tibetan food is very different from what you are probably used to, and it may not agree with your digestive system.
  • A good camera

6. Currency:

The unit of currency is Chinese Yuan. The Bank of China can exchange all foreign currencies. The banks in Tibet/China are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Travelers Cheques and credit cards are very difficult to be cashed outside the banks especially outside Lhasa. ATM facilities are easily available in Lhasa and Shigatse; however, it may be difficult to find one in other smaller towns or in remote places.

7. Must-See Attractions:

  • The Potala Palace
  • Jokhang Temple
  • Sera Monastery
  • Drepung Monastery
  • Yamdrok-Tso Lake
  • Tashilunpo Monastery
  • Mt. Everest

8. Keep Healthy:

Try to keep healthy and not catch a cold before entering and while in Tibet, as illness makes any altitude sickness feel worse. Take it easy and rest well, keep warm, drink a lot of water, and eat simply the first two days in Tibet to reduce any altitude sickness symptoms.

9. Respect the Tibetan People and Avoid Trouble:

Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics when in Tibet. Taking photos of Buddha statues is not allowed in the majority of Tibetan monasteries. In some monasteries, such as Tashilhunpo Monastery, you can take pictures of the Buddha statues after paying some money. Ask permission first before taking pictures of other people in Tibet. Sometimes they will even ask you for money. Do not enter monasteries without permission. Smoking is not allowed when visiting monasteries. Dress properly, not in shorts or sunglasses.

10. Know the Local Conditions and Lower Your Expectations:

Keep in mind that you travel to Tibet for its old culture and scenery, but not comfort. Visiting a Tibetan house will probably be a big culture shock. The facilities and service standard of hotels in Tibet is not what you would expect from a hotel with the same rating elsewhere. Hotels in Lhasa are relatively comfortable with heating systems and hot water in winter. Some star-rated hotels have in-house doctors to take care of minor discomforts. Whereas hotels in small cities and towns outside Lhasa only have very basic facilities, some even without a heating system and hot water in the freezing winter.

Geared for Adventure: Cross country mountain biking

June 24, 2014

mountain-biking

Fat tyres, a soft padded seat and 17 more gears than the average bike – the mountain bike is an ideal, go anywhere, versatile machine for explorers and keen cyclists. Enjoy the nature and the cool breeze as you cycle through a fascinating world to timeless splendor, unique tradition and breathtaking scenery. This cross country trip leads adventure lovers all the way from Lhasa to Kathmandu along the Friendship Highway. It is an ideal route in that it takes in most of Tibet’s main sights, offers superb scenery and features a spectacular roller-coaster ride down from the heights of the Lalung-la into the Kathmandu valley. Read more

Through Lhasa, Tsedang and Lake Namtso

May 25, 2014

Relish the best of Tibet through its cultural routes across Lhasa via Tsedang with us. This Buddhist Kingdom that remained long closed to foreigners and isolated to the world outside until recently, holds a strong fascination for many people, scholars, pilgrims, travelers and explorers alike who are all in pursuit of real “Shangri La”.

Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake

The tour features intriguing blend of historic-cultural heritage rooted in ancient past and the fascinating natural landscapes of Tibet Following a scenic route from Tsedang to Lhasa, you explore Samye monastery, Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery, Yambulakhang palace and the tranquil Chim Phu caves in Tsedang. Later you visit the historical landmarks of Lhasa like Potala and Norbulingka Palaces, Tibet Museum and Barkhor Bazaar. You also take a day trip to the great Namtso Lake, considered one of the three holy lakes in Tibet situated gorgeously along the Nyenchen Tangla Mountains. The lake Namtso, a turquoise brilliance in itself was also featured as one of the top five most beautiful lakes of China by the Chinese National Geography magazine. Read more

Biking odyssey

May 20, 2014

biking-odyssey

Nepal offers some of the finest biking trails on earth with virtually millions of track under its belt. The best way to see Nepal, it has long been said, is to walk. However, mountain biking is a remarkable alternative that offers a wealth of exotic places, varied landscape, rich flora-fauna and timeless cultures. Peddle through some of the hidden trails and experience Nepal like never before. There are myriads of adventures on offer, from village day rides in the Kathmandu Valley to challenging mountain trails that take you through some of the remotest corners of the country. Read more

Tibet: The land of Myths and Mysticism

April 9, 2014

Tibet

Tibet, the “forbidden land’ that was once shunned to the outer world, lies beyond the mighty Himalayas on the highest plateau in the world. Located 5,000 meters above sea level, Tibet is also known as the ‘Roof of the World’. This Buddhist Kingdom that remained long closed to foreigners and isolated to the world outside until recently, holds a strong fascination for many people, scholars, pilgrims, travelers and explorers alike who are all in pursuit of real “Shangri La”. The land of snows – Tibet never fails to charm visitors from all over the world. Heavenly lakes, mysterious rivers and breathtaking landscape, Tibet is nature’s paradise and is sure to leave you amazed with an unforgettable experience of land, people and mysticism. Apart from its geographical and natural wonders, Tibet’s long history, ancient culture, heritage and religion appeals people worldwide to visit this mysterious land.  Read more

10 Inherent Facts about Norbulingka

November 7, 2013

Norbulinka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, lies in a quiet and beautiful garden in the west part of Lhasa. Norbulingka represents confluence of Tibet and inland cultures. The well preserved murals, superb mandalas and frescoes are fascinating sights not to miss. One particular mural inside depicts the history of Tibet and all the Dalai Lamas. The Dalai Lama was living here during his last days in Tibet. The rooms have remained as they were when the Dalai Lama left in 1959. If you are interested to explore the 10 inherent facts about Norbulingka, then go for Explore Lhasa tour.

Tibet

Tibet

 

  1. Norbulingka in Tibetan language means “precious garden”. It is the summer palace for all Dalai Lamas. It was first built in the 18th century by the 7th Dalai Lama, Kelzang Gyatso, and then expanded into the present size of 360,000 square meters in the 20th century.
  2. The building complex has over 400 rooms of various sizes. The Norbulingka is the biggest and most magnificent and representative large-scale palace garden in Tibet.
  3. The main part of the Norbulinka architecture complex includes Kelzang Potrang (palace), Chensel Potrang, and Tagten Migyur Potrang. Their color, style, and decoration feature in Tibetan traditional architecture characteristic; whereas, their layout and overall structure treatment absorb and take after Han style architecture.
  4. Norbulinka is also a confluence of Tibetan quintessential arts of architecture, painting, statue and sculpture. As the political, religious and cultural centre of Tibet in the Qing Dynasty, the Norbulingka is a symbol of multi-ethnic cultural confluence.
  5. Norbulingka was announced to be national key cultural relic protection unit in 1988 by the State Council, and was enlisted as world cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 2011.
  6. Tibet became under the central government’s administration as early as in the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. The live record in the Norbulingka architecture of the confluence of Han-Tibetan culture is strong evidence that Tibet’s land, people and culture were destined to be indispensible part of China.
  7. Another feature of Norbulingka is the frescoes in its main hall. Frescoes records Han-Tibetan national unity and cultural exchange history. The frescoes can be categorized into religious and non-religious themes. The religious paintings are about Buddhist doctrines and stories of eminent monks. The non-religious paintings are about historical figures and stories. All of them are reflections of the diverse and unique traditional culture of Tibetan people.
  8. It is recorded that the 13th Dalai Lama sent craftsmen to Beijing especially for cultivating traditional decoration ornamentation skills and arrangement of Han architecture. The emblazonry of “the Eight immortals crossing the sea” and the totem of “happiness, wealth, longevity, and auspiciousness” is almost identical with that in the inland. Moreover, there are Chinese characters of “fu” (happiness), “lu” (wealth) and “shou” (longevity) written amid the painting decoration.
  9. The stone lion corridor and the pair of stone lions in front of the Norbulingka’s gate look almost exactly the same shape and style with those in the inland.
  10. Inside the Tagten Migyur Potrang is a set of fine frescoes displaying important historical political events in Tibet, such as the story of Princess Wencheng and Jincheng coming to Tibet and Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing Dynasty issuing the empowerment document and golden seal to the 5th Dalai Lama. The paintings also is a combination of traditional Tibetan painting and the Han style painting with exact delineation and enriched colors and line drawing.

Top 7 must see landmarks in Lhasa

October 30, 2013

Explore Lhasa and capture its top 7 must see landmarks into your canvas of life long memory. Lhasa means in Tibetan “The land of gods”. Lhasa houses most of the important monasteries and cultural treasures of Tibet. There are numerous scenic spots, among which Potala Palace, Nobulingka, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery and Jokhang Temple are the most famous. Wipe away the mists of imagination and meet the real people of Lhasa – bargain for souvenirs in Barkhor Square, witness Buddhist monks debating on theology and meet reverent worshippers as they make pilgrimages to the holy sites of the Tibetan capital. A visit to Lhasa is not just the visit of Tibet’s capital but it will allow an opportunity to experience Tibetan culture, visit the numerous heritage sites and watch the daily life of the Tibetans. The top 7 must see landmarks in Lhasa are shown here.

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

 

  1. Jokhang Temple, one of top must see landmarks in Lhasa, occupies an unchallenged position in Tibetan Buddhism. Located at the centre of old Lhasa city, this majestic temple, forms the “heart” of ancient Lhasa. Built in 647 by Songtsen Gampo, Jokhang Temple is the oldest civil-structure building in Tibet that has a history of more than 1,300 years. It well mixed Tibetan, Tang-Dynasty, Nepalese and Indian style of architecture together, initiated a new space layout model for Tibetan monastery. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lhasa, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace’. Together with Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street is another must visit site at the center of Lhasa. The street is the road that pilgrims tramped out around Jokhang Temple through centuries. Buddhist pilgrims walk or progress by body-lengths along the street clockwise every day into deep night. It is a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble.
  2. Potala Palace, a must see attraction in Lhasa, is a landmark of Tibet. The history of this awe-inspiring construction can be dated back to the 7th century, some 1,300 years ago that built by King Songtsen Gampo. With an area of over 360, 000 square meters, Potala Palace is a spectacular castle-like building complex of Lhasa, which is used to be the unification centre of political and religious of Tibet. With grand stele commemorating the architectural achievements of ancient Tibetans, the Potala Palace is truly a cultural treasure on the Tibetan Plateau. In December 1994, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. Furthermore, the Potala Palace worked as the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas since the 7th century. The palace is famous for its grand buildings, complicated constructions, special atmosphere, splendid artworks, precious scriptures, murals, jewels and antiques.
  3. Drepung Monastery, another top must visit site in Lhasa, is the largest monastery in Tibet. It was founded in 1416 by a disciple of Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelukpa School. Drepung Monastery was one of the best schools of the Middle-Ages and during the 1930s it housed over 10,000 monks from all regions of Asia. After the Chinese invasion and the persecution that followed, many of them retreated to India where they started a new monastery. Now only a few hundred monks remain at Drepung, but its history makes it a popular attraction.
  4. Tibet Museum, a must see site in Lhasa, is located in the southeast corner of Norbulingka. The museum houses a rich collection of prehistoric cultural relics including Buddha statues in different postures, imperial jade seals, gold albums, gifts granted by emperors, colorful Thangkas, and various printed Sanskrit and local scriptures. Visitors can also see variety of folk art such as unique local handicrafts, costumes, jewellery, and adornments made of gold, silver, and jade, as well as fine Chinese pottery. In addition to showing the civilization of Tibet, the museum is also an ideal location to hold cultural exchanges and seminars, to preserve cultural relics, and to encourage the archaeological study. The museum is not only a source of information for the locals, but also attracts an increasing number of people from overseas and educates them about Tibetan culture.
  5. Sera Monastery, one of the three grand monasteries in Lhasa, is famous for its copper Buddhist Statue, Religious Painting and Buddhism Debating, etc. The whole construction mainly consists of the Coqen Hall, the Dratsang (place for studying) and the Kangcun (residence), etc. The Hayagriva Statue in Coqen Hall is the most popular attraction for tourists, but it has a special religious meaning for local followers. Besides, the intense Buddhist Debating is another spotlight of this monastery. Every day in the afternoon, monks with an intention of learning Buddhism come to the courtyard of this monastery and participate in Buddhist debate.
  6. Norbulinka Palace, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, lies in a quiet and beautiful garden in the west part of Lhasa. The well preserved murals, superb mandalas and frescoes are fascinating sights not to miss. One particular mural inside depicts the history of Tibet and all the Dalai Lamas. The Dalai Lama was living here during his last days in Tibet. The rooms have remained as they were when the Dalai Lama left in 1959.
  7. Ganden Monastery, one of the sacred monasteries of Gelugpa branch of Tibetan Buddhism, was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the originator of the Gelugpa sect. Ganden consists of many temples and other buildings. It covers an enormous area, as building continued for generations. One building called Cuoqin Vihara has 108 pillars and is large enough to house 3500 monks. It contains the beautiful and skillfully carved bronze statues of Maitreya (the future Buddha) and Tsongkhapa. The monastery is listed as one of Tibet’s cultural relics. The Lhasa’s must see site is perched just short of the top of Mount Wanrigu or Wangbur, 30 km east of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4500m.