TOP MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT IN TIBET
Potala Palace was built during the 5th Dalai Lama’s reign between 1645 and 1693. It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lama symbolizing Tibetan Buddhism. The palace which is now on the list of Chinese national key protected cultural relics has become the most popular museum .It is a huge museum preserving valuable materials and articles of Tibetan history, religion, culture and arts. The Palace is widely known for store house of the precious sculptures, murals, scripture, Buddha figures, murals, antiques, and religious jewelry treasured up, they are of great cultural and artistic value. In 1994, the Potala Palace was declared as World Cultural Heritage site. Thirteen stories of buildings containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues with the elevation of 117 m. on top of Marpo Ri (Red Hill), rising more than 300 m in total above the Lhasa valley.
Norbulingka, means 'Treasure Park' in Tibetan. It was the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lamas, located about one km southwest of Potala Palace. at the bank of the Kyichu River.. The beautiful garden of Norbulingka was first built in the middle 18th century. The garden covers an area of 46 acres, with 370 rooms of different sizes. In the garden people worship Buddha, spend their holiday, and study at the Tibetan-style palaces. Norbulingka consists of several palace complexes, such as the Kelsang Potrang, Tsokyil Potrang, Golden Linka and Takten Migyur Potrang. Each palace complex is divided into three sections - the palace section, the section in front of the palaces and the woods. Norbulingka garden has now been turned into a park open to the public.
Located in the centre of old Lhasa city, the Johkang Monastery is a prime seat of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat Sect) a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Tsong Khapa. With an area of 25,100 square meters, it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. It was first built in 647 A.D. It houses the oldest and most precious Jow (Shakya Muni Buddha) statue, which princess Wenceng, also known as “White Tara” brought from China some 1300 yrs ago on the occasion of her wedding to the Tibetan king Tsongtsen Gampo who helped to spread Buddhism in ancient Tibet. Whether the legend is true or not this temple brought Buddhism into this land and became an inseparable part of Tibetan history and culture. It was included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 2000.
Sera Monastery is the representative monastery of the Gelugpa sect of the Tibetan Buddhism. It lies at the foot of Tatipu Hill in the northern suburbs of Lhasa. The monastery was built by Jamchen Chojey, one of the disciples of Tsongkhapa who was the founder of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat Sect) a branch of Tibetan Buddhism in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is one of the six main monasteries of the Gelugpa sect of the Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was named Sera meaning wild rose in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when it was built. The monastery covers an area of 114,946 square meters .Its main buildings are the Coqen Hall, Zhacang (college) and Kamcun (dormitory). Scriptures written in gold powder, fine statues, scent cloth and unparalleled murals can be found in these halls. Colorful debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here and these employ a style distinctive from those at Lhasa's other famous monasteries
Located in the old area of Lhasa City, Tibet, Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple. The market street is the heart of old Lhasa-a fascinating venue of people and activities with narrow streets, whitewashed stone homes, windows framed in black and brightly painted wood work. Bustling flee market is the place to buy souvenir, Tibetan handicrafts and antiques. As a symbol of Lhasa, it is also a must-see place for visitors. It is believed that in 647, the first Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo built the Jokhang Temple. Due to its magnificence, it quickly attracted thousands of Buddhist pilgrims. As a result, a trodden path appeared. That is the origin of Barkhor Street. Today even still many pilgrims hold the prayer wheels to walk clockwise there from dawn to dark. One can see some pilgrims walking or progressing body-lengths by body-lengths along the street. Even some of them are teenagers or have experienced thousands of miles' walk to reach this sacred place. The way they express their piety could make you understand the holiness of religion.
Drepung Monastery is known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat Sect) a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It lies 11 km west of Lhasa on a steep mountain covering an area of 250,000 square meters.The monastery founded in 1416 by one of the disciples of Tsongkhapa and now it is regarded as the biggest and richest monastery after Ganden Monastery and the Sera Monastery in Tibet, housing over 10,000 monks and governed 7,000 subsidiary monasteries. The entire monastic communities assemble at the monastery only for special ceremonies and festivals. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the appearance of a heap of rice. That is why , it was given the name 'Drepung‘, which, in the Tibetan language, means 'Collecting Rice..
Shigatse lies 250km southwest of Lhasa and 90km northwest of Gyantse . It is the second largest city in Tibet. It is endowed with fertile farmland, vast grassy meadow, wooded forest and snow mountains. The highway runs alongside the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahamaputra) river, passing through narrow gorges and broad river valleys. Farmers plowing their fields with Yaks, sheep grazing in the vast plains, awesome sand dunes and rocky hills in the distance are the scenic rewards of the journey to Shigatse with a population of about 50,000. The old civilization and magnificent temple architectures attract many visitors to this magnificent place.
Ganden Monastery, one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, is famous for its Buddha Painting Unfolding Festival. It was founded in the early 15th century by Tsong Khapa, a well-known Tibetan religious philosopher. 45km away Lhasa City, the monastery is located on Wangbur Mountain, on the southern bank of Lhasa River. Its significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural relic led to it being preserved by the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme in 1961, and is now known as being one of the 'Three Great Temples', together with the Sera Monastery and the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa.
After arriving at Ganden, spend at least a half day to explore the attractions in and around the ancient monastery, home to the earliest monastery of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Although the monastery is mostly in ruins, it is a fascinating place. Pilgrims arrive in Ganden from all over Tibet to walk around the site of the monastery, and one can observe the rituals they perform on this ‘Kora’ around the monastery.
Built in the 8th century, Samye Monastery was the first Buddhist monastery to be founded in Tibet. It is also notable as the site of the "Great Debate" (792-794) between the Indian Mahayanists and Chinese Chán (Zen) Buddhists.
Samye is famous for its sacred mandala design: the central temple symbolizes the legendary Mount Meru, center of the universe. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists, some of whom travel on foot for weeks to reach it. Situated amidst breathtaking scenery, the layout of the huge monastery complex forms a giant mandala, a representation of the Buddhist universe, and is modeled after the Indian temple of Odantapuri in Bihar. The complex is surrounded by a strong wall topped by 108 tiny chortens and pierced by gates at the four cardinal points. The main temple in the center represents Mt. Meru, the mythical mountain at the center of the Buddhist universe.
It is a multi-storied aggregate of Buddhist chapels in Tibet. It forms part of Palcho monastery. The first Kumbum was founded in the fire-sheep year 1427 by a Gyantse prince. The Kumbum, like other mandalas, which are portrayed by a circle within a square, enables the devotee to take part in the Buddhist perception of the universe and can depict one's potential as they move through it. Mandalas are meant to aid an individual on the path to enlightenment. The Kumbum holds a vast number of images of deities throughout its structure with Vajraholder the cosmic Buddha, at the top
Mt. Kailash (6741 m) situated to the north of the Himalaya in Western Tibet (China) is perhaps the most sacred place together with the two lakes of Manasarovar & Raksas. Three of the greatest rivers the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej, the Indus all take their sources from this Holy Mountain. This holy place has been an ancient pilgrimage for the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Jains & Bonpos. They all do the Kailash Kora which starts from Darchen and it is 53km long. Over the centuries pilgrims have constantly journeyed immense distances to achieve enlightenment or cleanse themselves of sin, braving enormous distances and particularly harsh weather.
The highest freshwater lake in the world, at a height of 4500 metres, Lake Mansarovar stands at the foot of the sacred Mount Kailash. Located in Tibet, it’s considered as one of the holiest lakes in Asia and is an important part of the yatra. This lake is also believed to change colours. While it is clear blue near the shores, it changes to an emerald green colour towards the centre. The lake looks absolutely stunning in moonlight.