Splendours of Tibet & The Shoton (Yogurt) Festival 7th Aug-12 Aug 2018
TIBET– A sacred land of myths and mysteries inhabited by the ever-smiling people, has not only exerted a magnetic pull upon travelers for centuries but also spies, missionaries, scholars, geographers, mystics, soldiers and cranks, etc. Yet, only a few intrepid, serious and determined have been able to make it.
Tibet was opened to tourism in 1985. Before this, it avoided influence from the West and this country developed its unique culture and religion independently. Since Tibet was governed by the spiritual leaders, monasteries and religious institutions were the backbone of power so the importance and prestige were shown by the size and magnificent architecture of these buildings. Tibetan Buddhism contains many elements of their older religion,” Bon Po” which worshipped the sky, moon, sun, fire, soil and even evil spirits and this is why a monastery such as Tashilhunpo contains thousands of unique statues, paintings (thangka), religious and historical books that to visit in detail would take weeks. The Monasteries are crowded by pilgrims who often travel long distances to fulfill their vows and wishes and their emotions show that religion still holds a very important place in their daily lives.
TIBET– extremely remote and isolated by the most formidable Himalayan ranges is a fascinating world of timeless splendor, unique tradition and breathtaking scenery awaits all travelers to the Roof of the World.
The Shoton Festival is a traditional time-honored festival held on the 6th lunar month according to the Tibetan calendar. It isone of the most important festivals in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism with a history of over 300 years. According to folk legends, the Buddhist monks were forbidden to kill living beings and when the when the weather started to get warmer in Spring and Summer, plants and insects were awaken and sprung to life. During this time of year, the monks avoided going out in fear of stepping on insects which violated their taboo of killing. At the end of June of the Tibetan calendar, the monks came out to reunite with nature and the local villagers rewarded them with yoghourt, outdoor feast and Tibetan opera at the celebration and prayed for blessing and good harvest.
During the grand Tibet Shoton Festival, all the main genres of Tibet operas from various regions of Tibet gather in Norbulingka, western suburb of Lhasa to perform in competitions, bustling with music and excitement. The most solemn activity is the unfurling (exhibition) of the Buddha thangka (religious painting)which takes place in wee hours of the morning at the Drepung monastery.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely
Min 2 Pax
Highlights of Shoton Festival
Buddha Painting Exhibition
At 8:00, by the hillside at the back of Drepung Monastery, a huge Sakyamuni (the founder of Buddhism) painting with the area of 500 square meters, made of colorful and splendid silk, is exhibited clearly and magnificently. Thousands of Tibetans put their palms together andbow down in devotion and worship.
Tibetan Opera Performance
Shoton Festival can also be regarded as Tibetan Opera Festival. On the first day, Tibetan Operas perform in Drepung Monastery and at the Potala Palace. When the construction of Norbulingka Summer Palace was completed at the beginning of the 18th century, the opera performed at the Norbulingka Summer Palace instead of Potala Palace.
Now the Tibetan Opera performs on the 2nd day in Norbulingka and Longwangtan Park opposite the Potala Palace from 11:00 until dusk every day. Besides local Tibetan opera troupes, many other Tibetan opera troupes from other provinces such as Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan come to Lhasa and learn from each other.
NOTE: Tibet follows Beijing time and is 8 hours ahead of GMT. Watches should be adjusted accordingly.
All transfer to and from airport / hotel / airport in a private deluxe a/c vehicle accompanied by representative.
All transfers, drives, sightseeing tour and movement as per the itinerary (for 2 pax – Car/Jeep) inclusive of fuel and 01 driver, his daily allowance/ accommodation and all meals.
Documentation for Tibet travel permit and invitation to travel into Tibet
Services of a knowledgeable Tibetan Guide from Lhasa Agency.
05 Nights / 06 Days Tour of Tibet with overnights stay at the mentioned hotels (whichever applicable) as per the itinerary inclusive of daily breakfast only.
The entire monastery entrance fee during the sightseeing in and round Lhasa as per the itinerary.
Visa Fee for Tibet of USD 114.00.00 per person for all nationals except US nationals (subject to change)
Ticket for Princess Wencheng Live show performance in Lhasa.
Support of Oxygen canisters (Chinese make in the vehicles).
China Visa fees
Applicable International airfares To and from Lhasa.
All lunch & Dinner at Hotels restaurants on en-route or stopovers in Tibet
Personal insurance and evacuation charges
Photography charges for Still and Video cameras inside monasteries.
Items of a personal nature such as bar bills, alcoholic beverages, bottled drinks and mineral water, extra mileage, personal gratuities such as tips to guides, drivers and trek staff
Costs incurred due to natural calamities, strikes, breakdowns and beyond the control of Sacred Summits (P) Ltd and its associates.
Tips to staffs (Trek guides, porters, Tibet Guide, Drivers) etc.
Insurance / liability for or against loss of goods, theft, accidents, loss of life etc.
Costs incurred due to cancellation of flights, strikes, landslides, snowfall, etc., or due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Sacred Summits (P) Ltd.
Any item not mentioned in the above “The Cost includes”.
Arrive Lhasa (3650 m)
Arrive Gongar Airprt. Upon arrival, met by representatives and drive 1 ½ hours to Lhasa.
Upon arrival at the Hotel, the guest will be welcomed with a drink and later assigned to the room.
The rest of the day is free for acclimatization.
NOTE: Tibet follows Beijing time and is 8 hours ahead of GMT . Watches should be collaborated accordingly.
Lhasa – The City of Sunshine at 3,650 meters is the capitol city of Tibet and means holy land in Tibetan. It is situated on the northern bank of Lhasa River, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo River. It is famous for its living history. Lhasa is also famous as a city of Sunshine for its sunshine of more than 3,000 hours a year. It’s the capital city of Tibet and its political, economic and cultural center of the region. It boasts many historical sites and scenic spots both in its urban areas and outskirts such as Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Norbulingkha, Tibet Museum, Ganden Monastery, Tibetan Medicine institute, Tsrupu Monastery, Drigung Monastery, Reting Monastery, etc.
Overnight at Hotel Shangrila, Lhasa
AM: Tour of Jokhang and Barkhor & Ramoche Monastery, PM: Visit Sera Monastery
After breakfast meet the guide and proceed for the sightseeing tour of Jokhang Temple.
Jokhang Monastery is a Buddhist temple in Barkhor Square in Lhasa. Tibetans, in general, consider this temple as the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. The temple is currently maintained by the Gelug School, but they accept worshipers from all sects of Buddhism. The temple’s architectural style is a mixture of Indian Vihara, Tibetan and Nepalese style.
The Jokhang monastery was founded during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo. According to tradition, the temple was built for the king’s two brides: Princess Wen Cheng of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Both are said to have brought important Buddhist statues and images from China and Nepal to Tibet, which were housed here, as part of their dowries.
Also visit Ramoche Monastery which is situated in the northwest of Lhasa. This temple is one of the key cultural relic protection sites of the Tibet Autonomous Region as well as a hot attraction in Lhasa. The original building complex has a strong Tang architecture influence, for it was first built by Han Chinese architects in the middle of the 7th century (during the Tang Dynasty). Han Princess Wencheng took charge of this project and ordered the temple be erected facing east to show her homesickness.
One of the temple’s prized artifacts is the life-sized statue of the 12-year-old Sakyamuni. The Wencheng Princess brought it from the capital Chang’an during the Tang Dynasty. As one of the precious cultural relics of Tibet, the statue is now placed in Jokhang Temple (Da Zhao Si), 500 meters (0.31mile) south of Ramoche Monastery. Residing within the Ramoche Monastery is the life-sized statue of the 8-year-old Sakyamuni. Carried into Tibet by the Nepalese Chizun Princess, this figure is regarded as the greatest saint in the monastery. These days, the temple has become the very place for the Tibetan monks to study the Mi Zong (one of the sects of Buddhism).
After the sightseeing tour drive back to the hotel.
Afternoon: visit Sera Monastery, 5 kms (3 miles) north of Lhasa. Once a community of more than 5,000 monks, it was virtually extinguished by the Chinese. The restored monastery sits below the brow of hill on which Tsongkhapa built a hermitage and spent several years meditating. One of the monk’s disciples began building Sera in 1419, completing it a few years later.
Overnight at the Hotel, Lhasa
AM: Visit Lhasa Museum, PM: Tour of Potala Palace, Evening Watch Princess Wencheng Musical Journey
After breakfast meet the guide and visit the Potala Palace, the Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama who fled to India during the Chinese invasion in 1959. It is now a museum and World Heritage Site.
The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. The 5th Dalai Lama started its construction in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa.
After the tour return to hotel for some rest.
PM : Drive 40 kilometers to Ganden Monastery:
Ganden monastery denotes the Paradise of Tushita and the abode of Jampa, the future Buddha. Ganden is the foremost Monastery of the Gelugpa Sect. It is also the most devasted. of all the Great Six Monasteries (Ganden, Sera, Drepung, Tashilumpo, Labrang and Kumbum) of the Yellow Hat sect, none suffered as disastrously as Ganden. The ruins here, a result of the Cultural Revolution when artillery and vast quantities of dynamite were deployed, are the most extensive in Tibet. Over the last decade, herculean efforts have gone into the rebuilding. Before the holocaust, over 2000 monks lived here. Now there are 300.The monastery, one of Gelugpa’s Great six was built on a ridge called Gokpo Ri, the site where Tsong Khapa first meditated in order to choose a place for the main monastery of the sect. Ganden’s foundation was laid in 1409.
After the sightseeing tour of Ganden Monastery board the waiting vehicle and drive towards Lhasa.
20:15 HRS : Drive for about 30 minutes to the Tibet Outdoor Theatre to watch Princess Wen Cheng’s Musical Journey, a musical extravaganza about the story of princess from China to Tibet more than a thousand years ago to marry King Songsten Gampo.
Crossing deserts, hailstorms, and snow-capped mountains, she brought Chinese cultures and all kinds of influences to Tibet. With her gentleness, wisdom and compassion, she captured the hearts of many in the land of snows and left behind her legacy in the world famous Potala Palace in Lhasa.
From the majestic Tang Dynasty to the vast mystical land of Tibet, this musical artistically depicts a historical epic with enchanting music and songs, intricate dance movements, spectacular scene change, backdrops and props, and over 200 sets of newly designed colorful ethnic costumes from traditional Tang China and Tibet.
Later return to the Hotel.
Overnight at Hotel , Lhasa
Excursion to Dark Yarpa Cave / Ganden / Sightseeing tour of Ganden Monastery
After breakfast met by the representative and board the waiting vehicle and drive towards Yarpa Valley which is about 2 hours’ drive from Lhasa. (Approximately 32 Kilometers)The road climbs steadily through the terraced barley fields of the fertile Yarpa Valley upto the Chorten guarding the entrance to the Yarpa complex. Upon arrival rest for a while and proceed for the hike to Dark Yarpa Cave. (Hike Duration 1 ½ to 2 Hours)
In a vision, Songten Gampo saw that Drak Yarpa was the designated place, thus between (7th to 9th century) the retreat centers were founded. The hermitage of Drak Yerpas with Samye Chimpu and Yarloung Sheldrak are considered as one of Tibet’s three caves retreat. Today, with ongoing renovations, the cave complex is again a powerful spiritual magnet for recluses and pilgrims form far and wide.
After visiting Drak yarpa Cave walk back to the valley and board the waiting vehicle and drive to Lhasa City for an early night to participate in the Shoton festival the following morning.
Overnight at the Hotel, Lhasa
Participate in Shoton Festival with visit to Drepung & Norbulingka
The Shoton Festival is one of the most popular traditional festivals in Tibet and is a comprehensive celebration that influences the culture of Tibet. It is a great occasion for both Tibetans and tourists and has become a time for competitions, performances and entertainment. Attending the festival provides visitors a special feel of Tibet and its culture.
At 8:00 hrs: The grand Thanka of Sakyamuni (religious scroll) is unfurled.
04:00 HRS : Early morning wake up and set out (part way by vehicle and part way on foot) to the Drepung Monastery founded in 1416 which lies 5 Kilometers (3.1 miles) on the outskirts of Lhasa. It was once Tibet’s largest and most influential monastery with over 10,000 monks. Today, Drepung houses about 700 monks and attracts pilgrims and visitors from around the world. Situated at the foot of the Mountain Gambo Utse, the Drepung Monastery is known to be the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism and is considered one of the ’Three Great Monasteries’ (the other two are the Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery) of Tibet.
After the unfurling of the Thanka and taking blessings, proceed to the Norbulingka Palace to witness the Tibetan opera performance from 11:00 until dusk every day. Besides local Tibetan opera troupes, many other Tibetan opera troupes from other provinces such as Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan come to Lhasa and learn from each other.
Norbulingka served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama’s exile in 1959. Part of the ”Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace”, Norbulingka is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was added as an extension of this Historic Ensemble in 2001. It was built by the 7th Dalai Lama and served both as administrative and religious center. It is a unique representation of Tibetan palace architecture. Norbulingka Palace is situated in the west side of Lhasa, a short distance to the southwest of Potala Palace and covers an area of around 36 hectares (89 acres) and includes of one the largest man-made garden in Tibet.
After the sightseeing tour drive back to the hotel and rest of the evening is free to relax and explore around the city.
Overnight at Hotel, Lhasa.
Day Free, until final departure for onward flight.