I never had the time to do the Tashilhunpo Kora when I'm in Shigatse. This time I finally did it. It's a wonderful Kora, long with prayer wheels nearly the entire way. The Kora starts to the left before you enter the main parking entrance. It is easy to find by just following the pilgrims. If not, it is the first alley on the right. The Kora begins...more
Near the entrance of Tashilhunpo Monastery is a row of vendors selling prayer beads and some Tibetan items. There is not as many as you would find in Lhasa. But my experience is that the vendors in Shigatse will negotiate a little more and move off their price. You can get them pretty low if you try and walk away a few times.more
I recommend visiting this monastery if you are in Shigatse. The monks here are very friendly and there are many things to see. There is a fee to get in, 55 rmb. The monastery is in town and you can get there by a quick taxi ride that should cost only 5 rmb.Update 2013: Entrance now costs 80 rmb and the taxi ride is 10 rmb. The entry fee is usually...more
This monastery is like a city complex like Sera Monastery in Lhasa. It is the traditional seat of Panchen Lamas. Tashilhunpo Monastery is the biggest functioning monastery in Tibet and one of the 6 biggest Gelukpa monasteries. In its best times, 4700 monk lived in Tashilhunpo. Now only 800 monks are living here. This monastery founded in 1447 by...more
The monastery is 130km from Shigatse and Sakya means "Grey Soil" in Tibetan as it is surrounded by grey soil. Sakya is the main monastery of the Sakyapa Buddhism sect and is deemed as the Second Dunhuang. The Drum River divides the monastery into two parts, north and south. Unfortunately I was ill the day we visited the monastery and was unable to...more
Sakya was once the centre of political and religious power in Tibet. Many buildings featuring the town's unique architectural style suffered the ravages of the 1960s, but the well-fortified citadel still stands and much rebuilding is in progress. The town itself is very small and run down but you get a feeling that you’re in the real Tibet....more
One of the 6 great Gelukpa monasteries, founded by the 1st Dalai Lama in the 15th Century, it has flourished since its head, the Panchen Lama, was recognised as the embodiment of the Amitabha Buddha. The huge monastery, built in 1447, was once inhabited by over 4000 monks, but nowdays, only 600 remain there. It is the seat of the Panchen Lama. The...more
The Tashilunpo is a magnificent monastery in Shigatse. It is one of the six great Gelugpa monasteries and home of the Panchen Lama - who is, by the way still hidden by the Chinese. Situated at the foot of Drölma Ri, there is also a nice Kora (or pilgrimage) around the monastery possible. Dont miss it, since you will have a great view over the huge...more
This is a nice Kora (or pilgrimage) around the monastery that goes up a little bit on the foot of Drölma Ri mountain. Dont worry, it is an easy walk - no comparison to the high Kora of Ganden (another tip). Dont miss this Kora, since you will have a great view over the huge monastery and the complete city of Shigatse.more
Like in other Tibetan towns is the market an important place for the Tibetans. Jewelry of all kind is very popular. The gold and silver jewelry and ornaments with all kind of stones are still made with the traditional techniques and skill at high level.I liked their jewellary a lot. At the contrary the Tibetan women showed their admiration for my...more
In the north part of Xigaze, below the Xigaze Dzong, you can find the colourful sheltered markets. It's always nice to walk around at the markets, so it's here, looking at the people, the mule charts and everything else what happens.The markets are open the whole day from about 9 am till 7 pm. It's a good place to buy some food like bread and...more
Xigaze with its population of about 40.000 is the second largest city in Tibet. Except the Tashilhunpo Monastery there is not much to see in this mainly Chinese town with grey concrete blocks. The only other interesting place in Xigatze to visit are the nice markets, sheltered with roofs. They sell a lot of goods from vegetables, meat, yak butter,...more
In the Tashilhunpo Monastery complex you can find the great Hall of the Maitreya, but also nearby the Great Hall with several pagodas of former Panchen Lamas. Here you can see frescoes and statues depicting the life of Tsong Khapa and his disciples.Many of the other buildings in Tashilhunpo are dismantled during the Cultural Revolution. The most...more
This is our first stop after leaving our luggage to hotel. It was a small restaurant with a modest ambiance. I must admit that I was surprised when the food came. Everything was so delicious. We ate lots of stuff which I barely remember. The soup was very good, I remember some noodles, spring rolls and rice dishes. We were so full and happy after...more
Shigatse lies on the main Friendship Highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu, so, although tourists typically make the trip in Land Cruisers, any two wheel drive car is good for the job.
There are two routes one can take, the south and the north one. The longer route is the one you would normally take on the outbound leg of your trip from Lhasa. Although it is possible to drive the distance in a day, the trip is normally split in two with an overnight stop in Gyantse, leading past Yamdrok Tso.
The shorter route takes about 4 hours maximum, including short stops - and goes direct from Shigatse to Lhasa. This is the route you would normally take on the return leg (if coming back to Lhasa by Land Cruiser).
There is very little traffic on the route by Chinese standards, hence even tourists (who are usually discouraged from driving in China) would be able to drive themselves, if self-drive tours were allowed/became more popular.
Shigaste is quite big and there are heaps of shopping opportunities to be found all over the city. Of particular interest is the antique market. It is a fairly small market with majority of the vendors selling the same thing but you can have fun bargaining between the vendors and get the price lower than if you were dealing with just one. For...more
This Buddha statue is typical of what can be found in Tibetan monasteries. It is rare to be able to take pictures. The Tibetans cover these figures in silk cloth and put money as offerings as well. The Buddha figure can be recognised based on the position of his hands, symbolising various representations.
when making the trip to xigaze (usually from lhasa), you'll be on the road for several hours. the places along the way where you can stop will be few and far between so make sure you bring an adequate supply of bottled water (adequate depends on how quickly you get thirsty).this area of tibet is very dry (you'll even see sand dunes along the way)...more
bring a watch with an altimeter (i had a suunto xlander).if you're going to tibet, you'll be encountering elevations you're likely never to encounter again - personal altitude records is what i mean. might as well record it, right?also, better to be aware of the elevations you reach so that you can better "hike high, sleep low" - the general rule...more
The first time I went here was in 2006 when travel was a bit easier. Part of the adventure was taken a beat-up bus from Shigatse to Shalu. This is not very far but back then the bus dropped you off at a dirt road intersection and you had to walk. A nice walk surrounded by the mountains. I think the bus ride was more of an adventure! A unique experience happened. As you may know, many Tibetan travel from Monastery to Monastery to pay respect. The bus was loaded with elderly Tibetan women. During the ride they kept staring at my and pointing to their eyes (I have blue eyes is all I can figure why they did this), then without asking, an older one reached out of her seat and grabbed the hair on my arm and pulled hard! Then she started laughing. They all got a big kick out of this.
Anyway, Shalu is nice and small. I like going to these types of Monasteries because they do not get the traffic of the big and more popular location. The monks and other people are usually so happy to see you. A great experience.
As opposed to the wheel of life described and pictured for Gyangze, this new one painted on a wall at the Tashilhunpo monastery shows how much artistic talent is being lost under the Chinese rule of Tibet. The artists must be accredited with the government, and are said to be Chinese even sometimes. So officially, the most famous monasteries are...more
As anywhere I have been in Tibet, the monks were very nice and friendly in the Tashilhunpo monastery. We breached the language barrier by laughing together, especially when they pulled on a friend's hairy arms. Contact with foreigners is still rare, so it is always a great human experience on both sides.more