Tibet “The Roof of the World” is the cultural and architectural haven of Central Asia. This small Buddhist kingdom had long intrigued western media and explorers. Ever since, Heinrich Harrer gave detailed account on Tibet, its ancient culture, inhabitants, vivid accounts of arts, architecture, traditions and lifestyle, in his auto-bio “Seven years in Tibet,” people couldn’t resist traveling Tibet once their lifetime. Throngs of tourists entered Tibet, in later years (Chinese Government overtook the administration and officially opened the country for tourism). Now, it is one of the most desired travel destination in Asia.
The exile of Dalai Lama, on-going worldwide protest of Tibetans who migrated to foreign lands following Chinese occupation and China’s current policy regarding the foreign tourists makes the headlines. Most of the Tibetans still reside in the region (they’re still culturally intact to their old roots) therefore, making it an archaeologically important destination, an Egypt of its own, offering inside peek into its ancient culture, traditions, arts and natural wonders.
The avid salt-tea drinkers, Tibetans, are most hospitable when it comes to treating their guests. Mingling with the locales can definitely be a great option to learn more about the region.
Top 5 Destinations in Tibet
Lhasa “The Forbidden City” is former abode of Dalai lama (Living God for Tibetans). The spiritual and political capital of Tibet Autonomous Region of China is also a central administrative station for Communist Chinese Government in the region. The region is gifted with some of the antique and mystic Buddhist culture and artistry.
Few of the most revered and historical monuments to take a look at during Lhasa tour are;
- Potala Palace (Winter Palace) Snap
- Nobulingka (Summer Palace) Snap
- Drepung Monastery Snap
- Jokhang Temple Snap
Shigatse is the second largest city of Tibet. It contains huge Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama. It is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas. Also, another popular monument in the region is Shigatse Fortress, the predecessor in modeling Potala.
The city is located at an altitude of 3,840 metres (12,600ft) at the confluence of the Yarlung Tsangpo (aka Brahmaputra) river and the Nyang River (Nyang Chu or Nyanchue) in west Tibet and was the ancient capital of Ü-Tsang province.
In the 2nd week of the 5th lunar month (around June/July), Tashilhunpo Monastery is the scene of a 3-day festival and a huge thangka is displayed ref.
3. Qiangtang (Changtang)
Qiangtang is a high-altitude plateau in western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh, with vast highlands and giant lakes. From Eastern Ladakh, Changtang stretches approximately 1600 km east into Tibet, as far as the state of Qinghai. All of it is geographically part of Tibetan Plateau, also home to the Changpa nomads.
Tso moriri is counted among the highest lakes in the world ref.
4. Everest Base Camp North
Locally known as “Qomolungma,” the locales consider the Everest a holy mountain. The rudimentary campsite of Everest base camp (5,150m/16,900ft) is popular among avid adventurers. Due to its remote location, the accommodations here are scarce but plenty for the incoming numbers of trekkers. The desolated landscape, Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan architectures gives an exotic flavor to the region.
The North Everest Base Camp can be accessed through a 100 km road branching to the South from the Friendship Highway (Nepal-China) near Shelkar. The “tourists Base Camp” is located about half-way between Rongbuk Monastery and the actual climbers Base Camp at the foot of Rongbuk glacier.
5. Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash (6,638m/21,778ft), locally known as “Gang Rinpoche,” is considered a sacred peak by Hindus, Buddhists, Bon and Jains alike. Located near the two of the great largest lakes, with mythical importance, Lake Mansarovar and Lake Rakhshastal, it is a part of Trans-Himalaya in Tibet.
Every year, thousands of devotees make pilgrimage to Kailash, creating a sight must see (similar to Kumbh Mela of India). The trail is filled with prayer flags, make-shift camps, semi-naked ascetics and buses loaded with families.
According to a Hindu myth, the Hindu God ‘Shiva’ is believed to reside at the summit of Kailāsa (Mt. kailash), where he sits in a state of meditation.
←PLACES MUST VISIT (MAP)→
Download Travel Guide
Download Tibet Travel Guide .pdf (Powered by Lonely Planet)
Chinese officials have opened the recent ban on visiting Tibet. Tibet travel is in the bucket list of every traveler.A strict policy is regulated regarding the flow of international tourists and their nature of visit creates the most suspicion, making the it complex to obtain a permit. Therefore, consider hiring a local travel agent. It can be real affordable and flexible while dealing with the locales and getting a permit as they are familiar with officials and traders.
One can fly to Kathmandu as well as other major Chinese cities, before heading straight to Tibet (with the Travel guide provided). Some of the local fine tour operators experienced in the field are; Nepal Vision Treks and Advanced Adventures.
When to Travel
Spring, early summer and late autumn are probably the best times to visit Tibet. Mount Kailash and Mansarovar tour can be undertaken from April to October. Monsoon in Tibet is generally flooded, and winter brings loads of snow, therefore opting dry and summer time can be the smartest option.