With a view to giving you a brief introduction to the major places where you pass by and sightseeing spots as mentioned in the itinerary, we have prepared a brief description of each spots as follows. We hope this description will be of a little assistance to you.
Zhangmu (7000 ft.)
For Nepali, this place is called Khasa. For Tibetan. better known by the name of Dram. Zhangmu is a small settlement clinging to a hillside 10 Kms. from the Friendship Bridge that crosses the Bhotekoshi river. Zhangmu has become the major trading point between Tibet and Nepal. The climate is quite different from the hinterland. The hills around Zhangmu are heavily wooded with many waterfalls in summer and impressive ice formations in winter. It has a bank, a post office, a government store, and is presently undergoing a construction boom to meet the demands of trade and tourism.
Nyalamu (12200 ft.)
Known as ‘Kuti’ to Nepalese traders, Nyalamu used to be an important trade centre. Now-a-days, barrack style Chinese communes surround the typical old flat roofed, mud-brick houses. Although vegetation is sparse, one can see an abundance of alpine fauna on the hillside during the summer months.
Tingri (old) (14100 ft.)
Tingri is an old Tibetan settlement with typical clustered Tibetan styled housing at the foot of small hillock. A short exploration in the settlement can expose you to a typical remote Tibetan lifestyle. Right from the roadside of Tingri, you can see the MT EVEREST towards the southern direction.
Xegar (New Tingri) (13800 ft.)
A new Chinese commune built at the foot of the ruins of Xegar Dzong, 7 kms. from the main road. With a population of 3000, it is the center of this large and remote area and a base from which expeditions to Mt. Everest and other peaks are launched.
Lhatse (13100 ft.)
Lhaze is situated where a main Tibetan road turns westwards towards Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar Lake. During the short summer season, the whole valley is covered with green barely fields and bright yellow mustard meadows. It is a welcome change after the barren lands of the Tibetan plateau. There is also a small, hot spring located a few kilometers away.
Xigatse – The Estate that Fulfils One’s Wishes (12600 ft.)
It is situated between 29o 02’N and 88o 08’E in the southwest of the Tibet Autonomous Region where Nyangchu River joins the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Shigatse is the second biggest town in Tibet and it is the center of transportation and distribution of agriculture and husbandry products from the southeastern part of Tibet. “Shigatse” in Tibetan means the “Estate that fulfills one’s Wishes.”
Tashilhunpo Monastery is the biggest Gelugpa monastery in the Tsang region of Tibet. It is located in the town of Sigatse and was founded by Gedun Drup, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of the Gelungpa Sect. Gedun Drup is recognized as the first Dalai Lama. It was first built in 1447 and continuously expanded by the successive Panchen Lamas. The Ngagpa College (Tantric College), one of its four monastic colleges, is the residence of the Panchen lamas. The most amazing image in this monastery is the statue of the giant Maitreya (Future Buddha) erected by the 9th Panchen Lama in 1914. It took four years to build this monumental statue which stands twenty six meters high and is composed of 275 Kg. of solid gold, and a great quantity of precious things such as pearls, turquoise, coral and amber. The 4th Panchen Lama’s funeral stupa was built in 1662 and it stands eleven meters high and is covered in solid gold and silver.
Gyantse (13050 ft.)
A small agricultural town famous for its wool carpets and the Phalkor Choide Chorten, Gyantse lies between a monastery and fort. This unique structure, built in 1414, consists of five stories representing the five steps to enlightenment, and is topped by thirteen rings which symbolize the stages of advancement towards Buddhahood. There are 108 halls inside, each with frescoes and Buddha Shrines.
Located in Gyantse and founded jointly by Kedup Je of the Gelugpa Sect and Rabten Kunsang of the Sakyapa Sect in 1418, the Phalkor Monastery has a special influence over Tibet’s Buddhism owing to its unification of three different sects, the Gelugpa, the Sakyapa and Bhuton Sects, in a single monastery. The famous Kumbum pagoda, built in collaboration with Newari artists from Nepal & Tibetan artists, also stands in the same courtyard with nine story’s, 108 doors and 77 chapels containing clay sculptures and various murals. The pagoda is said to have 100,000 images, either sculptured or painted, this is the reason for its name “100,000 Image Pagoda”.
Yamadroke Lake – The Sacred Lake (14300 ft.)
Yamadroke Lake is one of the biggest and beautiful lakes in Tibet. We pass by this lake with about 2 hours drive along its bank. Yamadroke means torquise in Tibetan language. In fact, the lake looks exactly as beautiful as torquise blue during the good weather days. This freshwater lake, unlike other Tibetan lakes, is sweet and non-saline, extending for 624 sq. km., in the shape of two pincers of a large scorpion. You can have a short stop on its bank and enjoy photography here.
Lhasa – The Land of Gods (11850 ft.)
Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region is located between 29o 36’N and 19o 06′ E at the north bank of Kyichu river, a tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, at an altitude of 3650 meteres above sea level. Lhasa has a history of more than 1300 years and has been the center of politics, economy, culture and religi pung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The monastery, occupying an area of 250,000 square meters with a fixed number of 7,700 monks, is the largest monastery in Tibet. The monastery keeps many historical relics, Buddhist scriptures, arts, and crafts.
Sera means “hailstone” in Tibetan. Set at the foot of the Wudu Hill to the north of Lhasa City, Sera is comprised of a great sutra chanting hall and a college. Situated at three kilometers distance to a northern suburb of Lhasa, Sera Monastery was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Choje, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The monastery was erected on a mountain slope. Sera Monastery together with Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery in Lhasa are known as the Three Great Monasteries of Tibet.
Jokhang Temple, situated in the center of the old section of Lhasa called Barkhor, was built in the mid-7th century A. D. It was later extended by successive rulers, and has now become a gigantic architecture complex. Located in the east, and facing the west, Jokhang is a four storeyed Temple with splendid golden roofs. Its architecture features art from the Tang Dynasty but also assimilated many features from both Nepalese and Indian Buddhist Temples. The murals in the temple depict the life stories of historic and religious characters. The temple houses many historical relics, including statues of King Songtsen Gompo, Princess Wencheng, Princess Bhrikuti Devi (Nepalese). “Princess Willow” (a tree), and “The Uncle-Nephew Alliance Tablet.” Jokhang is Tibet’ s spiritual center, and the holiest destination for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. It houses a sitting of statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old. The circular Barkhor Street has innumerable shops, and wayside peddlers intermingle with devotees walking clockwise around the Jokhang. An evening walk (Kora) around the Jokhang Temple together with the Tibetan pilgrims is a lifetime experience.
The Potala, one of the most famous architectural works of the world, sits on top of the Red Hill in Lhasa. In the 7th century, after the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo’s married Princess Wencheng of the Tang Court, the Plalace was built to provide the Tibetan court with a place of worship and meditation. In the mid-17th century, it was re-built by the 5th Dalai Lama to its present size, and became the Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas. The construction took fifty years from beginning to completion.
The Potala is divided into two sections, namely, the Red Palace and White Palace. The total height of the Potala is 117 meters spanning thirteen storeys. The length of the Palace from east to west is 400 meters and the breadth from south to north is 350 meters. The building was constructed of stone and timber with golden roofs. It is a majestic architectural masterpiece.