Roof of the World…!
Tibet is located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, south-West frontier of China. Tibet borders with Sichuan, Yuannan, Qinghai and Xinjiang; to the south contiguous to India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma and bounded by Kashmir on the west. It is the land of ancient Buddhist culture, awesome landscapes, artistic monasteries and century old caravan trails. The image of Tibet has been portrayed as 'Shangri-La" in the western world because of geographical inaccessibility. This magical and mysterious land was opened to tourism in 1985 only. Before this, it avoided influence from the West and developed its unique culture and religion independently. A visit to this land of unforgettable curious nomads, mysterious monasteries and vast breath-taking panoramas is a much rewarding holiday experience.
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. Tibet is an immensely historic place with unrivalled culture and is staggeringly beautiful in its stark simplicity. The place is for you to discover and enjoy, we simply try to assist you in making your dreams come true.
Lying in the rain shadow of the Greater Himalaya, Tibet is a barren, high altitude plateau of brown rolling hills, pierced occasionally by enormous peaks and covering an area the size of Western Europe. Tibet, averaging more than 4,000 meters above sea level, is well known as the "roof of the world." The Himalayas, ranging from east to west on the southern edge of the Tibet Plateau, run for 2,400 kilometers with an elevation of more than 6,000 meters. Despite the high altitude of the Tibetan plateau, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. Between April and November the average temperature ranges form 15-25 degrees Celsius and the skies are generally clear and blue. From July to August though there can be the odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. The best time of year to be in Tibet is from May to the beginning of November, after which temperatures start to plummet. However, in May and June there is a wind factor to consider and dust storms are not unusual. October and November often bring some dazzlingly clear weather and daytime temperatures can be quite comfortable at Tibet’s lower altitudes. The coldest months are from December to February. It is not impossible to visit Tibet in the winter, but high-altitude trekking becomes almost impossible. High passes sometimes become snowbound, which can make travel difficult. The low-altitude valleys of Tibet (around Lhasa, Shigatse and Tsetang) see very little snow.
To apply for China visa, passports must be valid for more than 6 months. The normal Chinese visas issued from Chinese foreign missions abroad are useless to enter Tibet from Kathmandu. For the visa procedure, we need following information at least a month prior to your arrival in Tibet. 1) Full name as exactly in the passport (incl. middle name) 2) Sex 3) Passport no 4) Nationality 5) Passport issued date 6) Passport expiry date 7) Date of birth 8) Occupation. Please ensure that the passport details of ordinary passports are sent to us (no diplomatic passport). We also require the photocopy of the passport as email attachment. The visa is issued in Kathmandu after the arrival of clients. We need at least one full visa working day to obtain the visa in Kathmandu. Chinese Embassy processes visas only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The included information is current regulation in force. The changes are made frequently by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. So it is suggested to enquire us for the most recent visa regulation.
A trip to Tibet is not for the faint hearted, the traveling can be hard, adventurous and often unpredictable. Due to Tibet's high altitude, travelers with a history of heart, lung or anemia problems should consult a doctor before considering a visit. It’s limited facilities for tourists are only now approaching a reasonable standard. Though all programs in Tibet are strictly conducted under the rules and regulations of the Tibet Tourism Bureau, we make every effort to ensure that our clients' journey is smooth and as pleasant as possible. However, you should not have high expectation regarding the service in Tibet.
The exiled Dalai Lama encourages Westerners to visit his country and we also believe a journey to Tibet to be a worthy and fascinating goal. Traveling to Tibet is certainly an incredible journey to the rooftop of the world!
TREKKING IN TIBET
Tibet, the roof of the world provides some of the best trails for trekking. Tibet, the largest and the highest plateau on the earth spotted with many old monasteries, is surrounded by the most jumbles of mountains found on any continent. The remoteness of the trekking places combined with its extreme climate and high altitude poses a special challenge to adventurers. Trekking in Tibet requires proper preparation due to its high elevation, high passes and outside help is sometimes difficult to reach even on the popular trek.
TRAIN TO TIBET
Tibet, the mystical land is now easily accessible with the exciting launch of the train that runs from the various cities in China to Lhasa. This train has aroused much of the world's attention as it is certainly something to rave about - from being the world's highest and longest plateau railroad to being an engineering marvel with technological breakthroughs in the railway construction since almost half of the total track is being built on frozen soil. The railway track is a total of 1,956 km from Xining (capital of Qinghai Province) to Lhasa. About half of the track is located 4,000 meters above sea level with the highest point being 5,972 meters at Tanggula Mount. The scenery along the Tibetan plateau is simply breathtaking - snow capped mountains, miles and miles of vast wilderness, yaks and sheep roaming around in the grasslands and highlands. The inside of the train is regulated with oxygen. This train ride is a great alternative way to flying into Lhasa from the mainland China. The train runs at a speed of 160 km per hour on the plain, but slows down at 120 km per hour when it reaches the Qinghai-Tibet section.
PLACES TO VISIT
Lhasa is the best place to explore the monasteries and Palaces once occupied by religious heads of Tibet. Tibet's nation, language, diet, climate and geography are unique and deeply religious and Tibetans are open spontaneous people admirably good humored and quick to joke. Being the capital city, with 1,300 years of history, Lhasa, which means holy land of Buddha's land in Tibetan, is the political religious economical and cultural centre of Tibet.
Potala Palace is the most famous landmark in Tibet. Former winter home of the Dalai Lama, it is vast and has awe-inspiring maze of corridors and stairs leading through countless rooms of richly decorated statues, tombs and antiques and beautiful & religious murals painted on inner walls and the corridors as well as the various figures of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Dalai Lamas showing the genetic stories of Buddhism. You will climb past the White Palace into the Red Palace, where the file of pilgrims offering silk scarves, coins or yak butter to burn in the shrines combine to make this an unforgettable experience. Jokhang is a golden-roofed temple and is at the heart of a rich and living Tibetan Buddhism. The Jokhang is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. Many locals pray here regularly; the temple is surrounded by Barkhor street and thronged with pilgrims and visitors. Norbulingka which means Jeweled Garden was constructed as a summer palace for the Dalai Lama and later served the whole governmental administration. Sera monastery is known as one of the three greatest monasteries of Tibet. As one of the three main monasteries of Lhasa, it is here that the monks "famous daily debates" take place. Drepung monastery, situated to the west of Lhasa city was the largest and richest of the three major Yellow Sect monasteries in Lhasa. It is one of the largest monasteries in the world. Ramoche temple is often called the “Minor Jokhang Temple” and is located in the north part of Lhasa city. Ganden monastery is located 70 km east of Lhasa. Situated at 4300m in a bowl like amphitheatre, it was one time second biggest monastery in Lhasa.
Covering about 1,900 sq kms, Namtso is the highest saltwater lake in the world and the second largest in China. Buddhist pilgrims respect Namtso as one of the four holiest lakes and the seat of Paramasukha Chakrasamvara. There is a belief that in the year of the sheep in Tibetan calendars Buddha, Bodhisattvas and Vajras assemble here to hold religious discourses. It is also believed that circumbulation of the lake at the right moment equals a hundred thousand times of that in normal years. Hence, thousands of pilgrims from every corner of Tibet and other places cluster at Namtso after long and arduous treks from their villages. Located near Damxung (4,590m), Namtso is shadowed by the massive Mt. Nyanchhen Thanglha (7,117m) in the south. It has vast expanses of grazing lands where in the summer numerous herds of yaks and sheep and nomad tents dot the landscape. Large flocks of birds both native and migratory such as bar headed geese, black-neck cranes and many others inhabit the lake for its abundant fish and aquatic plants. On the four sides of the lake stand four monasteries, which have Buddhist meanings. Five islets, planting themselves in the vast sapphire blue lake, is said to be the incarnation of the Buddha of five directions. Every pilgrim circumbulating the lake will piously worship these islets, which are famous for their topography and are covered by weird but vivid stones.
Yarlung Valley and Tsedang
Yarlung is the origin of the Tibetans and is the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Over several thousands of years, Yarlung culture, as an important component of Tibetan culture, has had an impact on the history of Tibet and the country as a whole. The first formal monastery in Tibet, Samye monastery is one of the most imposing sights. Yumbulakhang palace is Tibet's first palace and is a worthwhile visit for those Tibetan history fans.
Yamdrok lake is one of the three holy lakes in the Tibetan Plateau. This is a huge lake spanning 130 kilometers long from east to west and 70 kilometers wide from north to south. The clear turquoise blue water in the lake with the reflection of the surrounding mountains really makes a very pretty sight. The drive out of Lhasa to Yamdrok lake and onward to Gyantse and Shigatse is rewarding in terms of the breathtaking and magnificent scenery of the beautiful snow capped mountains, rushing rivers, vast river deltas, lakes and gorges.
Gyantse, a small historic town is famous for its woolen carpets and the Khumbun chorten. This stupa was one of the eight Buddhist stupas known as Tashi Multi stupa that stood 42m high and was said to have 108 cells containing venerable mural paintings and holy images amounting to 1,00,000 pieces of art.
Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet. It is most famous for its Tashilumpo Monastery – the seats of the Panchen Lama, who is regarded as the reincarnation of the Buddha of Endless Enlightenment. Founded by the first Dalai Lama, Gedun Drupa in 1447 is one of the four “Yellow hat Sect” monasteries of Tibetan Buddhists. The monastery comprises of congregation hall from 5th to 9th century Panchen Lama’s stupa and chapels, the golden stupa of 10th century and the big Maitreya statue of the Buddha in gold and copper alloy.
Rongbuk monastery situated at an altitude of 5,100 meters is the highest on earth. From there one can have a stunning view of Mt Everest. Mt. Everest appears like a lofty pyramid surrounded by mountains that touch the sky. Walking forward from Rongbuk monastery, you will see the famous Rongbuk glacier zone, which is the largest among all the hundreds of glaciers formed around the Mt. Everest. The base camp is approx 2 hrs hike from Rongbuk .
Holy Kailash and Mansarovar lake
Holy Kailash and Mansarowar Lake, center of creation the Universe, are as old as the creation of the universe. Thousands of Sages, ordinary mortals, Philosophers and even the Gods had submerged in the blissful trance at the very sight of this divine grandeur. Every object in this area is sanctified and each one is related to gripping legends. The scriptures reiterate that one, who takes the holy dip at Mansarovar and carries out the Parikrama around Kailash is absolved of his sins through generations and is absorbed into the Supreme Finality. Mt. Kailash (6,740m) is situated to the north of the Himalayan barrier. It is the perfect mountain with awesome beauty, with 4 great faces. It is the spiritual center for four great religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, the Jain religion and the pre-Buddhist animistic religion - Bonpo. A Shiva-linga shaped Mt. Kailash from the northern face for the Hindus, Mt. Kailash is the earthly manifestation of Mt. Meru, their spiritual centre of the universe, described as a fanatastic ‘world pillar’ 84,000 miles high, around which all else revolves, its roots in the lowest hell and its summit kissing the heavens. On the top live their most revered God, Shiva, and his consort Parvati. For the Jains, an Indian religious group, Kailash is the site where their first prophet achieved enlightenment. For the older, more ancient religion of Bon, it is the site where its founder Shanrab is said to have descended from heaven. It was formerly the spiritual center of Zhang Zung, the ancient Bon Empire that once included all of western Tibet.