The Spirit of Tibet

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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.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
      Culture, Discovery, Family, Guided Tours, History
    • Activity Level Moderate
      3/8
    • Min 2 Pax
    All about the The Spirit of Tibet.

    Full name:                    Tibet Autonomous Region of China
    Area:                            1.2 m. sq. km
    Population:                  3 million
    In Exile:                        300,000
    Capital city:                 Lhasa (Population 200,000)
    People:                        Tibetan & Chinese
    Language:                    Tibeto Burmese, Tibetan and Chinese
    Religion:                      90% Buddhist, 1% Muslim, 3% Bon and 6% others
    Government:                Occupied by China in 1949/1950
    Currency:                     Yuan (Y 8.15 = US$ 1.00)
    Geography:                  Tibet has border with India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma
    Climate:                       Spring (May to June) – Best weather condition, May to Mid September Winter – (October to April)
    What to wear:               Light weight clothing is recommended for May to June, Warm garments are required September to April.                                             An umbrella or a raincoat is a must for the summer season.
    Voltage:                       Standard voltage only 220 volts.

    1. Day 01 Arrive Lhasa (3650 m) and Drive to Zedang (3100 m)

      After breakfast, transfer to the International airport for the 1 ¼ hour flight to Lhasa by China Southwest Airlines (ETD 10:00 Hrs). Upon arrival at Gonggor airport met by representatives and drive 2 hours to Zedang. This drive is along the Yarlung Tsangpo River – fields of barley and wheat and apple and pear orchards are interspersed with stretches of Rocky Mountains and sands dunes. En-route we stop at Nyethang, a temple built sometimes between 1045 and 1050 by Atisa, an Indian Buddhist teacher who was invited to Tibet by the Kings of Guge, western Tibet in 1042. Nyethang contains three temples – the first houses a large stupa called Namge Chorten and a smaller bronze stupa contains the relics of Atisa himself. The third temple is called Tshepame Lhakang, the temple of Amitayus. Atisa main disciple Dramton founded the Kadampa sect.

      NOTE: Tibet follows Beijing time and is 2 hours ahead of Nepal Time and 8 hours ahead of GMT. Watches should be collaborated accordingly.

       Upon arrival check in to the hotel.

      Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.

       

    2. Day 02 Sightseeing Tour of Zedang

      AM: Visit the castle of Yambulakhang, the oldest known dwelling in Tibet and the home of Yalung Kings. According to legend the castle is supposed to have been built by King Nyatri Tsenpo around 130 B. C.

      We also visit Trandruk Monastery built by Songtsen Gompo in 7th century – it is one of his three main surviving monasteries, the others being Jolhang and Romoche. This is a Gelugpa Monastery. One of the chapels houses tapestry of Sakyamuni said to have been made by Wen Cheng, Songtsen Gompo’s Chinese wife. The Padmasambhave Temple contains a painting by Marpa (11th Century) but which probable date from the 16th century. The temple also houses a seen pearl tapestry of Avalokiteshwara.

      PM: In valley, 30 kms south of Tsedang lies the famous tombs of the early Kings of Tibet in the village of Chonggye. Among the numerous tombs thee, the biggest and the most distinguishable one is that of King Songtsen Gompo the foremost King of Tibet.

       Later return to the hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.

                  Overnight at the Hotel

    3. Day 03 Drive Zedang to Samye to Lhasa

      Drive west from Zedang for about 2 hours to the famous Samye Monastery.

      The Monastery is located in a green valley among barren mountains surrounded by a village Hebori is a small holy mountains to the east. Samye was founded in 779 by Trisong Detsen, Tibet’s second religion king after he had invited prominent Buddhists from India Including the most famous – Padmasambhava and Santrirakchita. It took over a decade to build Samye 775 – 787. Trisong Detsen enacted religious laws placing the monks above the royal law and placing the noble families of Yarlung subject to the monastery. The Yarlung nobles clung to the old Bon Faith. It was the Samye that the famous debate took place between the Chinese and the India schools at around 971 to 793 A. D. The Indian view triumphed and was the model adopted for Tibetan Buddhism. From the complex only a part of the Great Hall and the surrounding cloister remain today.

      The Great Hall was built in three styles 0 the lower part in Indian style. The cloister has some south chapel has a statue of chenrezi and the West chapel houses fierce deities, considered of frightening thattheir heads are covered.

      After the sightseeing tour, return to the waiting vehicles and then a 3 hours drive brings us to Lhasa.

      Lhasa – A City of Sunshine
      Lhasa means holy land in Tibetan. On the northern bank of Lhasa River, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo River, It’s 3,650m above the sea level. It’s famous for its ling 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 the Hotel

       

    4. Day 04 Sightseeing Tour of Lhasa (3650 m)

      After breakfast meet the representative and proceed for the sightseeing tour of Potala palace. Potala Palace – this architectural wonder, a spectacular edifice whose gold roofs soar high above the town and rises more than 300 meters above the valley floor can be seen from all directions for miles around. The present Potala was built mainly in the Fifth Dalai Lama’s reign between1645-1693 and remained the centre of political and religious power for the Dalai Lamas.

      With over 1000 rooms, it contained the living quarters of the Dalai Lamas while they lived, and their magnificent golden tombs when they died. Regents, tutors and other high lamas had apartments in the palace too. The Potala held the offices of government, a huge printing house and a seminary run by the elite order of monks who surrounded the God-King to train government officials. Hundreds of elaborately decorated chapels and shrines, halls and corridors contain thousands of gilded statues – Tibet’s pantheon of Buddhas, Boddisattvas, saints and demons.

      Today the Potala is a statue museum with 35 caretaker monks, but too many thousands of Tibetan pilgrims, it remains a beloved shrine.

      PM: Lunch, after lunch proceeds for the sightseeing tour of Jokhang Temple.

      Jokhang Temple : Situated in the heart of old Lhasa, it houses Tibet’s most precious religious relic, a golden Shankyamuni Buddha which was brought as a gift by the Chinese Princess Wen Cheng on the occasion of her wedding to the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo. JOKHANG is the spiritual centre of Tibet, its mostly holy place, the destination, over time, of millions of Tibetan pilgrims. Its oldest part dates back from the 7th century A.D. Legend says that Songtsen Gampo, who built the temple, threw his ring into the air, promising to build a temple where it landed. The ring fell into a lake and struck a rock where a white stupa miraculously appeared – an auspicious sign.

      Surrounding the Jokhang Temple is the bustling Barkhor market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa. This, the spiritual centre of Tibet, is also the heart of Lhasa.After visiting Jokhang Temple proceed for the sightseeing tour of Ramoche Temple.

       Ramoche Temple is a Buddhist monastery widely considered to be the second most important in Lhasa after the Jokhang Temple. Situated in the northwest of the city, it covers a total area of 4,000 square meters (almost one acre). This temple is one of the key cultural relic protection sites of the Tibet Autonomous Region as well as a popular attraction in Lhasa. The original building complex reveals a strong Tang architecture influence as 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 to be erected facing towards her home in the east to show her homesickness.

       EVE: After sightseeing tour of Ramoche Temple board the waiting vehicle and drive towards the hotel. Rest of the evening is free to relax.

       Overnight at Hotel

    5. Day 05 Drive / Trek to Dark Yarpa Cave & Sightseeing tour of Ganden Monastery

      After breakfast meet by the representative and board the waiting vehicle and drive towards the Yarpa Valley which is 1 ½ to 2 hours’ drive from Lhasa. (Approximately 32 Kilometers)The road climbs steady through the terraced barley field of the fertile yarpa Valley till the Chorten guarding the entrance to the Yarpa complex. Upon arrival at Chorten rest for a while and proceed for the hike to Dark Yarpa Cave. (Hike Duration 1 ½ to 2 Hours).

      Drak Yarpa Cave:

      Tibet, the forbidden land has some of the most interestingstories that few of us have heard about it, among thousands of the interesting, one of them is the hermitage of Dark Yerpa, There are many stories behind it but then the most prominent is of Songtsen Gampo, one of the king who ruled Tibet in the 7th Century had a difficult to rule the Kingdome , cause of ill will of intangible being (Asure – devils)., In order to overcome the evil, temple needed have to be built at an auspicious site. In a vision, Songten Gampo saw that Drak Yerpa was 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 retreats. Its natural beauty and spiritual ambiance have attracted illustrious kings, saints, ands ascetics since the Yarlung dynasty (7th to 9 th Century).

      Dark Yerpa is considered a place of great sanctity for the Kadampa, the second largest institution, Yerpa Drubde was established here. Before the holocaust of the Cultural Revolution, Drak yarpa had over 300 monks. Today, with ongoing renovations, the cave comples 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 derive towards the Ganden for the sightseeing tour of Ganden Monastery.

      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, hurculean 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 is built on a ridge called Gokpo Ri, the site where Tsong Khapa first meditated inorder to choose a place for the main monastery of the sect. Ganden’s foundation was laid in 1409.

      After sightseeing tour of Ganden Monastery board the waiting vehicle and drive towards Lhasa. Upon arrival at the hotel rest of the evening is free to relax.

    6. Day 06 Train Ride to Shigatse and drive to Gyantse

      After breakfast met by the representative and board the waiting vehicle and transfer to train station for the 3 hours ride to Shigatse.

      Upon arrival at Shigatse board the waiting vehicle and transfer to the Tashilhumpo Monastery.

      Shigatse – A Granary of Tibet is the famous cultural city with a history of more than 500 years. It is 90 kilometers (1 ½ drive) from Gyantse and 3,800 m above sea level. It has been a place in which Panchen lamas of various historical stages were authenticated. Later it has become a political and religious center in rear Tibet. To its south stands the world known Qomolangma Peak. Around the city there are the Sakya, Palkor and Shalu monasteries.

      PM: Proceed for the sightseeing tour of Panchen Lama’s Tashilhumpo Monastery founded in 1447 AD by Gendun 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 in declared that his teacher, then the Abbot of Tashilhunpo, who a manifestation of the Buddha Amitabha and the Panchen Rinpochhe. Tashilhumpo has one of the world’s largest statuses – a 9 storied gilded bronze statue of Maitriya, the future Buddha.

      After the sightseeing tour board the waiting vehicle and drive to Gyantse (90 Kms / 2 hours). Upon arrival, check into the Hotel.

      Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.

      Overnight at the Hotel

    7. Day 07 Drive Gyantse to Lhasa (Approx. 261 km) via Yamdrok Lake

      AM: After an early breakfast, sightseeing tour of Gyantse Kumbum Monastery.

      Gyantse Kumbum, one of the most unique and magnificent buildings in Tibet consisting of 6 storeys complete with a Buddhists Hall and a prayer hall. It has 112 chapels and its walls are adorned with religious paintings. Built in the 15th century, it has withstood all battles and revolutions since. We also visit the Pelkhor Chode Monastery located near the Khumbum, it was founded in the 15th century. It has been remarkably well preserved and many of the statues and paintings inside it date back to the time of its founding.

      After the sightseeing tour set out of Gyantse for Nagartse (100 kms) near  Lake Yamdrok passing the Simi La (4200 m) and driving on a trail with fantastic views of the turquoise blue waters of the manmade lake caused by the dam for the hydro project. Later we also cross the Karo La (5010 m) and the Drive to Nagartse, a small village near the Yamdrok Lake and an ideal place for a lunch stop.

      Then Drive along the picturesque trail of the colorful Lake Yamdrok, the Tibetan lifeline river Brahma Putra (YarlungTsangpo). Yamdrok Tso or Turquoise Lake:  A lake of a glaring blue that radiates a near mystical charm. It is about 240 kms in circumference and is more like an Island sea. There are Yak herders around and the lake itself supports a population of scale less fish in its non-saline waters. It is about 124 km from Lhasa.

      Later we ascend on a dirt track to Kamba La (4,794m) and have an opportunity to meet the Yak Herders with their finely decorated Yaks and Tibetan Mastiffs. A great photo opportunity and one can take pictures on a Yak or with a bunch of decorated Tibetan Mastiffs for a fee.

      From here we descend to the main road head before embarking on the grand finale entrance to the Lhasa City.

      Upon arrival at Lhasa check in to the hotel.

       Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.

       Overnight at the Hotel

    8. Day 08 Lhasa Departure

      Day free until departure transfer to the airport for onward flight