There are few places in the world which are synonymous to divinity, and able to retain their originality for centuries. Tibet is such a landmass where we can find a rare blend of mystery and mysticism. This vast landmass sits on the bank of Yarlung Zangpo river – the same river is known as “Brahmaputra” for Hindus when it crosses entire length of Tibet and flows to Assam in India.
1- Potala Palace
This amazing palace has the credit of being the highest ancient palace in the world, with its highest point 12,300 feet above sea level, towering 300 feet above the city of Lhasa. This 13-stories-high palace has over 1,000 rooms, and covers over 32 acres. The stone walls measure 10 feet thick on average.
2- Samye Monastery, the first monastery built in Tibet
The temple was built by the Trisong Detsen (reigned 742-798) of the Tubo Kingdom and was presided over by the Buddhist master Padmasambhava, (who brought Buddhism in Tibet).
3- Lake Yamdrok
Yamdroktso Lake is located at the Nangartse County of Shannan Province, around 110 km to the southwest of Lhasa. It is 1 of 3 Holy Lakes in Tibet (Lake Manasarovar & Namtso). This lake is 130 km long from east to west and 70 km from north to south. The lake bank is 250 km long and its surface is 638 square km. The lake is situated at an elevation of 4,441 meters above sea level; the lake’s average depth is 20 to 40 meters, with the deepest point at 60 meters. It is the largest inland lake on the northern range of the Himalayas.
4- Mount Everest
On the way to Nepal from Tibet there is a place named Rongbuk, the Mount Everest Base Camp is situated in Rongbuk. On a clear day a spectacular view of Mount Everest can be seen from Rongbuk. Many travelers who go to Nepal from Tibet by road pass by Rongbuk to see Mount Everest.
5- Sera Monastery
Built in 1419, this is one of the world’s biggest Buddhist monastery which looks like an entire village. This is famous for its “debating monks”. Every afternoon at two o’clock the monks sit in the garden, and debate about what they have learned in Buddhism. They use certain gestures while debating, though the visitors do not understand the language they are talking but its worth to see those gestures while the debate is in full swing. Sera also serve as a major printing press to print Tibetan religious scripts. All the religious scripts are printed in a traditional manner. The paper is first submerged in a solution of yellow mud so that it can observe the yellow color. There is a huge printing room where monks show us how they draft and bind their holy books following centuries old method of printing.
6- Ganden Monastery
Ganden Monastery is locted 29 miles from Lhasa. The monastery stands at an altitude of 12,467 feet. It is one of the earliest and largest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. This is known as being one of the three great temples together with Drepung and Sera Monasteries. This temple is also important because the present Dalai Lama studied and graduated from here.
7- Jokhang Temple
King Songtsen Gampo (617 – 650) was the leader of the Tibetan Kingdom. He actively promoted Buddhism. Under his reign, Tibet achieved great progress in social innovation. In order to promote friendly relationships with the neighboring countries, he consecutively married Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (China). When the two arrived there, each brought a statue of Buddha. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsen Gampo constructed the Little Jokhang. Jealous of her, Princess Bhrikuti asked Gampo to build a Jokhang for her as well. Therefore, he built a giant complex in 647 A.D. and this is known as Jokhang Temple.
This is one of the oldest existing markets which is situated in the heart of Lhasa. The Barkhor is a popular devotional circumambulation for pilgrims and locals. The walk is about one kilometer long and encircled the entire Jokhang.
9- Local tea shops in Barkhor
Tasting Tibetan tea is a popular event in Lhasa and there are local tea shops around Barkhor. The Tibetan tea is a mixture of tea, butter and salt. Traditionally it is brewed in a bamboo cylinder by pressing the tea. It has a sour test, and many do not like the taste, however it is worth to pass by these tea shops and tasting a sip.
10- Tibetan Mastiff Breeding Center
The local Tibetan mountain dogs, called Mastiff are breed here, and it is a worth to pass by these breeding centers in Lhasa and see these lovely shepherd dogs.
Bonus: Tibetan family house visit
A special permission from Chinese government is required to visit local family, the local Tibetan agent can arrange the permit and groups can pass by the Tibetan family’s home to observe how a normal Tibetan family lives.
The purpose of Tibet trip is to conjure up an understanding, perhaps an awakening caused by a blend of Buddhism, Animism and a mysterious terrain. This journey takes you from Lhasa to Sighatse. Along the way you will go through the barren, high landscape where sky seems nearer. The climax of this trip is the visit of sacred Potala Palace.