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Tibet Grand Northern Route Tour

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Brief Itinerary of Lhasa – Ngari Grand Northern route Tour

On Day 1

The first spot of the day was Drepung Monastery, the largest monastery in Tibet. At the entrance was a big fireplace or oven. People bought juniper leaves and barley and burnt them in the fire creating smoke and an intense fragrance. It is supposed to please the spirits. Drepung Monastery is the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. It is built at the foot of the Mountain Gambo Utse, in 1416 by Tsong Khapa’s disciple Jamyang Qoigy. It held ~10,000 monks in total in its peak time and has about 500 monks now. The name ‘Drepung’ means ‘Collecting Rice’ in the Tibetan language as the majestic white structure resembles a heap of rice from a distance.

Education in Tibetan Buddhism is divided into two forms – the Open School and the Secret School. The Secret School is the highest period of learning. Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Gelug Sect, preached a combination of the two.

If a lama wants to enter a monastery to study the scriptures, he must first study in the preparatory class of the Open School and then enter the formal class in different grades. If he finishes studying all the scriptures, he is qualified to participate in the examination for the title of Gebshes (Doctor of Divinity). One may obtain different Gebshes titles by passing different examinations. After obtaining a Gebshes title, one may enter the Secret School, where, after choosing a master, one passes through a ceremony named “vessel consecration.” Typically, the master pours water from a pot or vase onto the head of the disciple and then offers him wine from a bowl made of a skull to warn him to clear his mind of all evil thoughts. After this ceremony, the master starts to teach the disciple the scriptures. The disciple will undergo the ceremony of “vessel consecration” every time he moves to a higher level of the Secret School. Students receive instruction four times a day, sitting on a seat paved with sharp pebbles until he obtains the title of Living Buddha.

The Dalai Lama is supposed to be the embodiment of Avalokitesvara (Bodhisattva of compassion), and the Panchen Lama is said to be the embodiment of ‘Amitabha’, the Buddha of Infinite Life. The title “Dalai Lama” was given by Mongol king Altan khan, to the third, and all his successors are called Dalai Lama. ‘Dalai’, a Mongolian word, means ‘Sea.’ While ‘Lama’, a Tibetan word, means ‘Master’. The title Panchen Lama is given to all the heads of Tashilhunpo Monastery, starting from number first Dalai Lama because he is the founder of Tashilhunpo Monastery. ‘Pan’ is an abbreviation of the Sanskrit word ‘pandit,’ meaning ‘scholar,’ while ‘chen’, a Tibetan word, means ‘big’. The combination of the two words means ‘master’. Their selection process is unique, where the monks and abbots investigate the holy lake for signs and clues of where the next leader comes from. The present Dalai Lama is the 14th, lives in India and the present Panchen Lama is the 11th, who lives in Beijing.

During the 17th century, Panchen Lobsang Choegyen, head of Tashilhunpo monastery became a teacher for both number fourth and fifth Dalai Lama. During the number fifth Dalai Lama, Mongol king Gushi khan helped the Dalai Lama to gain political power. Being the teacher of the Dalai Lama, the Mongol king and Dalai lama gave Panchen Bogodi title to the Panchen Lama and recognized him as number fourth in rebirth. Panchen Lama is also known as Panchen Erdini by the Qing dynasty title.

More details about Dalai and Pancen Lamas can be read here:

In 1546, the third Dalai Lama was welcomed as the first Living Buddha into the Drepung monastery. At the invitation of Mongolia’s king, he went to Qinghai Province to preach. He was honoured with the title ‘the third Dalai Lama’. Drepung Monastery is also the place where the second, third, and fourth Dalai Lama held the enthronement Ceremony.

There are two white pagodas in the centre of the monastery and around them are the major buildings: Ganden Podrang, Tsochin Assembly Hall, the four Dracangs College, and Kamtsen dormitory. The Ganden Podrang was built under the supervision of the second Dalai Lama Gendun Gyatso ~ in 1530. It was the residence of the second, third, fourth, and fifth Dalai Lamas. After the fifth Dalai Lama moved to the Potala Palace, it served as the meeting place for the local administration for both politics and religion.

The Tsokchen Hall is a large Sutra Hall supported by 183 pillars. There are many colourful decorations and murals. There are Thangka paintings like the eternal cycle of birth and death (dharmachakra) on the walls of the hall. There are beautiful Manjusri (Bodhisattva of wisdom) and Sitatapatra (female form of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion) statues in the middle of the hall. People offer butter to the butter lamps lit in front of the deities. There are also butter sculptures. Water is kept in seven bowls (yonchap) in front of each deity. The offering of water at Buddhist shrines symbolizes the objective to cultivate the virtues of calmness, clarity and purity in our body, speech and mind. It also makes the ‘have’s and “have not’s equal.

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in these monasteries. This hall also has the stupas of Dalai Lama from second to forth. The second floor has the collection of sutras and the third floor has many precious relic collections.

The view of the city is beautiful from the monastery. The next spot is the Sera monastery. Before visiting the monastery, can have lunch at a local restaurant.

The main entrance of Sera Monastery is beautiful with painted wooden doorframes and doors. The ceilings are beautifully painted with mandalas (A mandala is a representation of the universe, with different parts of the universe representing different aspects of the Buddhist teachings. A mandala can be a painting, a 3-D model with wood or metal, or a creation with coloured sand).

Sera monastery was founded in 1419 by Tsong Khapa’s disciple Jamchen Choje Sakya Yeshe. It is at the base of Mount Phurbochok on which Tsong Khapa had built a hermitage called Sera Utse on the ridge above. Sera monastery is one of the three greatest Gelugpa monasteries throughout Tibet, and the other two are Drepung Monastery and Ganden monastery. The monastery celebrated is 600 yearsold.

Sera is due to wild roses. In Tibetan, a Rose is called “Gya Sey” and Yard is called ‘Rawa’. So the name means yard of roses. Another theory is that the name is due to the hailstone found during the laying of the foundation of the monastery, as hail in Tibetan is called Sera.

Legend has it that Tsongkhapa while composing one of his great works saw a page flying, forming a golden letter ‘ah’ and got dissolved in a stone where the Sera monastery was built later.

During its peak, the Sera monastery has over 7000 monks, now there are a few hundred. Like Drepung, Sera also has a main hall, colleges and dormitories. The style is different and better renovated.

The Tsokchin hall is the centre of religious affairs of the Sera Monastery. It was built by Mongol ruler Gushri Khan. It is a four-story structure where several religious rituals and rites are conducted. The hall is built with 125 pillars and the entrance has columns, painted with coloured four heavenly kings. The four heavenly kings are a common sight in all Buddhist temples. They depict the four directions. Two have smiling faces and two of them look fearsome. They are Vaiśravaṇa (Kubera, one who hears everything), Virūḍhaka (who helps growth), Dhṛtarāṣṭra (The King Who Upholds the Realm. He is known for being protective) and Virūpākṣa (who sees all). The four-guard kings are supposed to come alive at night on certain days of the month.

Sera Monastery

The main hall has five chapels in honour of Dipankara (past Buddha), Sakyamuni (present Buddha), Maitreya (future Buddha), Arhats (those who achieved Nirvana), Tsong Khapa, and Guanyin, (Avalokitesvara with one thousand hands and eleven faces). Maitreya is the largest statue with the future Buddha in a “sitting in chair” position. This is normal among all the monasteries.

The delicate Gangyur of Tripitaka in Tibetan is the proudest possession of the monastery which now holds 105 out of the original 108 volumes. These priceless volumes, the earliest sutras printed by engraving in China, were presented as a gift to Jamchen Chojey by Chengzhu, a Ming Dynasty Emperor.

There was a queue of devotees who had brought their children to seek blessings of Tamdrin or Hayagriva, the horse-headed deity or the protector. Hayagriva is considered Avalokiteśvara in an angry form. The kids had a black mark on their noses, from the butter lamp lights in front of the deity, indicating the blessings of Hayagriva.

There were three sand Mandalas. they don’t normally keep them for long, but in a special case, they have left them. These were like rangolis, very beautiful works of art. One of them was the 13 deity, Yamantaka Mandala.

The most unique events at the Sera monastery, the debates among monks on the Buddhist doctrines are the discussion of Buddhism knowledge. This facilitates a better understanding of the Buddhist philosophy to achieve higher levels of study. This debating tradition is characterized by interesting gestures by the participating monks. 

Day 2, Lhasa:

From a distance itself, the Potala Palace looked majestic. Potala Palace is the highest palace in the world, supposed to be named after a holy hill in South India. ‘Potalaka’ is a Sanskrit word meaning “Buddhist holy land, or Abode of the Avalokitesvara”.  As per legend, King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-storey palace with a thousand rooms on the Red Hill of Lhasa when he moved the political seat and capital city from Yarlung to Lhasa. As his father was killed when he was 12 years old, he didn’t feel safe in the old capital city.

With the collapse of the Tsenpo Dynasty, the ancient palace was almost destroyed in lightning wars. It was later rebuilt by the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, using Tibetan, Qing and Nepali artists. Potala Palace was renovated and extended many times leading to its present form. In 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama left Tibet, and since then, Potala Palace is not the political seat but has remained the highest cultural heritage of Tibet.

There are two major portions, the Red Palace and the White Palace. The Red Palace is the highest part of the centre. It was devoted to Buddhist study and prayer and possesses different halls, chapels, and libraries. It also has smaller galleries and passages. Great-West Hall is the largest hall, with beautiful murals painted on its inner walls. There are three chapels around it with the stupa (tomb with relics) of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso (1876-1933) and the statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng, and Princess Bhrikuti (from Nepal) inside.

The White Palace (Podrang Karpo) was the office building of Tibet’s local government. This was the residence of the Dalai Lama. The Great East Hall was once the site of religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors are served as the living quarters and offices. The seventh floor has Sunshine halls, the bedroom of the Dalai Lama.

Potala Palace has other parts with the School of Buddhist Logic, the printing House, gardens, courtyards and even a jail. As the place is at a good height, it also offered a spectacular view of the city.

To cater to the large crowds, the duration of time in Potala palace is restricted to one hour for the visitors. 

Jokhang temple is considered the “spiritual heart of the city” and the most sacred in Tibet. The entry is through the Barkhor, the market square in central Lhasa. It has a walkway for pilgrims to circumambulate (pradakshina) the temple. Barkhor Square is marked by four stone sankhuk (incense burners), two of which are in front of the temple and two in the rear. At the open porch in front, many pilgrims offer prostrations.

Jokhang Temple was built in AD 647 by King Songtsen Gampo (AD 617-49), the 33rd king and the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two foreign wives who are ascribed with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The king’s first wife, Princess Bhrikuti (married in the 630s), was the sister of the Nepalese king, while his second wife, Princess Wencheng (married in 641), was a Chinese princess. It is said that Jokhang was built to house the statue of Mikyöba (Akshobhya) brought by Bhrikuti and Ramoche Temple was constructed for Jowo Sakyamuni (originally from Bodh Gaya) brought by Wencheng. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wencheng, Later, Jokhang was expanded into a large complex and the Jowo Sakyamuni statue was also brought here due to safety reasons. Jokhang became the most sacred temple in Lhasa.

As per a legend, the temple is built on a lake bed which was selected after many failed attempts to build a temple in the region. Before this, every time a monastery was built, it would collapse. Confused by this, Princess Bhrikuti asked for Wencheng’s help. Being a learned woman, Wencheng told the Princess that the geography of Tibet was very much like a hag, with the lake at the heart. In order to build the monastery, Wencheng advised they must demolish the hag by filling and levelling the lake using 1,000 goats to carry soil from a mountain far away. When the construction work was done, the city around it was called Rasa and the temple, Rasa Thrulnag Tsuklakang (‘ra’ for goat and ‘sa’ for earth, and Thrulnag Tsuklakang  “House of Mysteries” or “House of Religious Science” in Tibetan,). Later the temple was named ‘Jokhang for’ or “Temple of the Lord” and the city ‘Lhasa”, “Holy land”.

According to another legend, the king threw his ring into the air, asking the spirits to show him where to build the temple. The ring fell into a lake, from where a stupa emerged. The lake was filled in to support Jokhang Temple, whose central shrine was built over the miraculous stupa.

The Jokhang Temple is a four-story wooden complex with a golden top. It has the architectural styles of the Tang Dynasty, Tibet and Nepal. There is a Dharma Wheel (chakra) flanked by two deer above the main entrance. These represent the Buddha’s first sermon, in which he “turned the wheel of the Dharma” in a deer park near Varanasi, India.

The entrance has impressive statues of the four heavenly kings. Paintings showing the building of Jokhang Temple and Buddhism related stories, Dakinis are on the walls of the passage. The statue of Sakyamuni at the age of 12 is in the middle of the hall. It has been gilded many times and decorated ornately with jewels typical of Tibet. When Sakyamuni was alive, he did not agree to be worshipped and did not allow his images to be created. Only three statues, designed by himself, were permitted to be sculpted during his lifetime. The first is an image of him at age eight, the second shows him at age twelve when he was still a prince in India and the third is of him as an adult.

The main hall has two huge statues. To the left is the master Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), the founder of Vajrayana of Tibet. To the right is Maitreya, the future Buddha. By the clockwise, the first chapel has Tsong Khapa and his 8 students, two of which were the first Dalai Lama and the First Panchen Lama. A small white pagoda is in the corner. In the south, there are chapels for the Bhaiṣajyaguru (Medicine Buddha), and for the master of the Kagyu sect – Milarepa. Milarepa is supposed to be the only person climbing mount Kailash in the 11th century. It is considered auspicious to take his name while doing the circumambulation (pradakshina).

One small chapel has the statue of Guanyin Boddhisattva (Buddha of compassion). The eastern hall houses the founder of Jokhang Temple – Songtsan Gampo and his two wives Bhrikuti (Tritsun) and Wencheng.

Jokhang temple has innumerable deities. There are also statues of Brahma ( Gyachen in Tibetan), Indra (Tsangba) and Garuda. There a many images of Tara, a feminine form of Bodhisattva. It is also believed that queen Bhrikuti is an incarnation of Tara. According to Buddhist tradition, Tara was born out of the tears of compassion of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. It is said that he wept as he looked upon the world of suffering beings, and his tears formed a lake in which a lotus sprung up. When the lotus opened, the goddess Tara was revealed. A similar tradition has the White Tara born from the tears of Avalokiteshvara’s left eye and the Green Tara born from those of his right. In a third legend, Tara was born from a beam of blue light emanating from one of the eyes of Avalokitesvara. Tara is also the consort of Avalokitshvara. Green Tara, with her half-open lotus, represents the night, and White Tara, with her lotus in full bloom, symbolizes the day. Green Tara embodies virtuous activity while White Tara displays serenity and grace. Together, the Green and White Taras symbolize the unending compassion of the goddess who labours day and night to relieve suffering. [source: “Tara (Buddhist goddess).” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 12 Jul. 2010.]

There are also beautiful statues of Maitreya and four-armed Avalokitesvara, Amitayus Vijaya (Buddha of longevity) with four faces. One chapel has large statues of nine longevity Buddhas with their consorts in yab-yum positions. Another chapel has the seven Buddhas Vipaśyī, Śikhī, Viśvabhū, Krakucchanda, Kanakamuni, Kāśyapa and Śākyamuni.

There are statues of Atisha and his disciples. Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna was a Bengali Buddhist religious leader. He was one of the major figures in the spread of 11th-century Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism in Asia and inspired Buddhist thought from Tibet to Sumatra. There is also an image of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist monk who came from India during the 5th or 6th century and began the physical training of the monks of Shaolin Monastery which led to the creation of Shaolin Kungfu. Another Indian sage Padampa sangye, of the 11th century, is attributed to moving a mountain next to Everest, which is supposed to be the incarnation of the 8th-century monk Kamalashīla.

Thus, the Jokhang temple is a treasure house of Buddhist images. Jokhang temple also has living rooms for the Dalai Lamas. Thangthong Gyalpo, is known as Chakzampa, the “Iron Chain Maker”, Tsöndrü Zangpo “Excellent Persistence”, and the King of the Empty Plain. He was also known by a variation of this name, Madman of the Empty Valley. He was a yogi, philosopher, poet, exorcist, teacher, architect, engineer, painter, sculptor, doctor, treasure revealer and a universal genius with supernatural abilities. One day he crossed a river by boat but didn’t have money to be given to the boatman. The angry boatman hit him. So, Thangtong decided to create bridges and built many iron chain bridges. He is considered a mind emanation of Padmasambhava and a reincarnation of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, an ancient Buddhist master. He founded the Iron Chain lineage of the Shangpa Kagyu, one who built bridges on rivers and founded Tibetan Opera.

Some of the other chapels have Five Protectors with some fearsome statues of Hayagriva and other protector deities (whose faces are covered with cloth), the Three Kings, Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and Tri Ralpachen. This room also has the statues of Songtsen Gampo’s two wives, ministers and symbols of royalty like elephants and horses.

The first floor also has the Chapel of Samvara. Samvara with four faces and twelve arms is in a Tantric pose with his consort.

The second floor is a rectangular corridor that gives great views of the temple. People like getting photographed with the background of the golden roofs of the temple.

Roaming around Barkhor street, There are rumours that as a teenager, Tsangyang Gyatso met a girl named Dawa Zhuoma, the love of his life. He wrote a lot of affectionate love songs for her when they dated. But soon Dawa was taken back to her hometown by her parents and Tsangyang Gyatso never met her again, and he composed even more poems and songs lamenting the relationship. His love songs are popular even now. Makye AMA is named after that. But this love story is not true. He passed away while being taken to Beijing by the Mongol king. His tomb is at Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai.

Day 3, Lhasa to Shigatse:

The journey started through National Highway G318 which runs between Shanghai and Nepal border at Tibet. There are two routes from Lhasa to Shigatse (Xigaze). While taking the longer route that has more scenic views. As the vehicle moved through winding mountain roads, we could see ladders drawn on the rocks, understandably with the intention of connecting with heaven. There are speed cameras on the highway, and one can not cross two-speed cameras in less than a certain amount of time.

The first stop was in about half an hour to see the beautiful view of a place where rivers Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) and Lhasa meet. The scenery was beautiful. After spending a few minutes here, we moved on and stopped an hour later at a place (Kamba La, or Gangbala Pass, on S307) from where we could see the Yamdrok lake and Mount Nojin Kangsang (7206m). The view of the turquoise blue coloured lake was breathtaking. The local people kept lambs and Mastiff dogs for photography with visitors (10RMB for a photo). After some time, moving along the lake and will reached the stunning Yamdrok lake.

Yamdrok Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet the other two being Namtso and Manasarovar. It is in Nangartse County, Shannan Prefecture, at an altitude of 4,441 meters, over 72 km long, surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and is fed by numerous small streams. People believe that Yamdrok Lake is the transformation of a goddess. According to a legend, there were nine lakes. Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal was concerned that creatures in the lake would die if the lake dries. So, she threw 7 Liang (~50 grams) of gold in the air, recited a mantra, and changed all the small lakes into a big one. It looked like the shape of iron scorpion held by Padmasambhava.

Another tale of the lake is about a young girl who lived by the lakeshore. She loved to bathe in the lake early in the mornings. A rich man fell in love with her, and hid by the lake one morning, grabbing her as she approached the lake, in order to take her to his home to be his wife. As he stepped out of the water, a fairy appeared and beat the man to death with her beads. But he refused to release the girl, who was dragged to the bottom of the lake with him and drowned. When the villagers came looking for her, a beautiful white bird flew out from the lake, and they found only the body of the rich man. People believed that the fairy had turned the girl into the white bird when she drowned, and ever since, the lake has been home to a wide variety of birds.

Yamdrok Lake also has a lot of fish. As Tibetans believe that fish are the incarnations of the god of water, and it is a sin to eat or attack them, it is believed that they should not be caught and eaten. It is widely believed that only demons and evil men will eat fish. On the contrary, with commercial interests taking over the traditional beliefs, there is also fishing happening but only on rivers.

In Tibet, mountains and lakes are considered sacred, and devotees go around the lake to wash away any sins. A ritual walk around the perimeter of the lake, is known as a “kora”. It may take three months on foot and up to six months with full-body prostrations. This is also one of the holy lakes where the monks and religious leaders seek for the clues to pick the reincarnated new Dalai Lama. Yamdrok is considered as the lifeline of the region and it is said if the lake dries up, Tibet would become an uninhabitable place.

After driving along the lake for some time. We could see a lot of sheep as well as black-necked cranes from a distance along the lakeshore. At Nagartse (Nagarzê) will have lunch. Nagartse is a small, but the beautiful town that serves as a base for people visiting the nearby attractions. This route is famous for cycling and biking tours. It is not far away from Bhutan and Sikkim.

When we moved further and the route was getting more scenic due to the ice-capped mountains. We could make two stops to watch the Kharola glacier, the second one a bit longer.

Kharola Glacier (5560m) originates at Mt. Noijin Kangsang which is one of the four holy mountains of Tibet. In Tibetan, it is called Khareg La, which means Sky touching mountain pass.  There is a stupa, and a wooden walkway leading to a higher viewpoint. then proceeded further and reached Gyantse (Gyangze). The road had several check posts where guides showed your passports and permits to the authorities. In some check posts, guest had to personally see the officers.

A horseback statue of Songtsen Gampo is seen as we enter Gyantse. We will stop near Gyantse Dzong, a hilltop castle and took its pictures from a distance. This fortress has a patriotic story. In 1904, British troops invaded Gyangtse and faced fierce opposition from the strong and brave Gyangtse people. They defended their city here, using primitive guns and cannons, swords, and even bows and arrows to fight against their aggressors. They could hold the attack for three days, before losing out due to a shortage of ammunition. Many of the local people jumped from the mountain to their death. Thus, Gyantse is regarded as the city of heroes.

Next, we will visit the Pelkor (Palcho) Chode Monastery (“Auspicious Wheel Joy Monastery” in Tibetan language). Surrounded by mountains on 3 sides, the monastery has 4 major parts: Buddhist halls, Bodhi Dagoba (Kumbum Stupa), Zhacang (dormitory) and surrounding wall. Pelkor is unique as it was the place that had three major sects of Buddhism together.

The Main Assembly Hall is a three-storied building, about five hundred years old. On the first floor are the three Chapels and a cloister. A chapel has four-headed Nampa Namse (Vairocana) and the other four Dhyani (or Wisdom) Buddhas. In the Main Chapel is an eight meters high bronze statue of Sakyamuni flanked by the Past and Future Buddhas. It is said that about 14,000 kilograms of copper was used to build the statue. The chapel has many Thangkas paintings. Manjusri Bodhisattva, White Tara and Arhats are enshrined in the chapels on the second floor. The eighteen-Arhat clay sculptures in the Arhat chapel are famous. Amitabha Buddha, Dakinis and murals are displayed in the chapels on the third floor.

The Bodhi Dagoba or Kumbum stupa is the most interesting part of Pelkor monastery. It is ~ 32 meters high. It is a nine-level building with 108 gates and 76 chapels. It is also known as ‘Ten Thousand Buddha Pagoda’ as about ten thousand figures of Buddha exist there. Fortunately, photography is allowed here with a fee of 10RMB. can visit most of the chapels in the stupa. It was like a wonderland displaying an endless series of different deities. Kumbum means 100,000 images in Tibetan. As many of the chapels were very small and dark, it took some effort to see and photograph the places.

Then drive directly to Shigatse.

Day 4, Shigatse to Everest base camp:

Obviously, this was going to be the most exciting phase of our journey, approximately 354 km distance through winding mountain roads. Taking G318 the Sino-Nepal friendship highway. Our first stop was the landmark 5000 km distance from Shanghai to Zhangmu. There is a monument indicating this remarkable feat of Chinese engineering. A couple of hours later was the Gyatsola mountain stop. The altitude here is 5248m.

The route had snow covered mountains at a distance and vast grasslands where many Yaks grazed. An interesting story about the Yaks.

Centuries ago, Yak used to live in India.  At the time, it did not have the long and thick hair that it now has.

It was believed that Buffalo was Yak’s uncle.  Buffalo used to have long and thick hair.  Yak had heard stories about the beauty of the land of Tibet.  He had heard their stories from the Tibetan antelope when a herd of them had come to India.  So, he decided to go to Tibet to find out.  He started his journey but couldn’t succeed, as the road to Tibet was very hard to navigate.  It was also unbearably cold.  So, he came back to India. But he did still want to go to Tibet.  He knew he had to plan well before he tried again.  He went to his friends, who had thick fur, for help.  It was decided that they all would go to Tibet together.  Now he had to get some fur for himself.  He went to his uncle to ask for his fur, but his uncle refused.  Yak assured him that he would give him his fur back along with lots of salt, once he returned from Tibet.

The next day, at sunrise, they all began their journey.  They crossed the Brahmaputra with great difficulty and reached the border between Tibet and India.  As they were crossing the river, a pack of wild dogs attacked them.  But after a long struggle, they fought off the dogs and journeyed on towards southern Tibet, now Lhasa.  While crossing some fields, they were caught by a bunch of farmers, who tied them up, making it hard for them to escape.  At midnight, managing to break free from their ropes, they ran for their lives.  After three days, they reached Lhasa.  It was more beautiful than what the antelope had told them.  The air, the water and the sky were many cleaners. So, they all decided to stay there forever.

Back in India, as time passed, Buffalo began to realize that his nephew had fooled him.  Buffalo then learnt that one must not be gullible. 

Over a period, there are many crossbreeds of yaks. Yaks crossed with cattle leads to Dzo, which is further crossed with yak or cow leading to different breeds.

The range of the peaks made a spectacular view, but Everest was mostly cloud covered. The next stop was after about three hours, at the Gyawula pass (5180m). This place had a better view of the Everest range, but Everest was still mostly under the cloud. The range had five peaks taller than 8000 meters. Mount Everest (8844 m), Makalu (8463 m), Lhotse (8516m), Cho Oyu (8188 m) and Shishapangma (8027 m). Gyawula pass stop also had some guest houses and toilets (Tibetan toilets, just a hole in the earth). Locals were selling prayer flags. We moved further through very scenic, but very winding roads. The driver certainly was highly skilled.

After crossing the final military check post need to moved from our vehicle to the Eco-friendly buses. It took another 25 minutes through the curvy mountain roads to reach the Rongbuk guest house. From the bus, it looked like they could have moved from the Everest peak. Once we reached the guest house, we didn’t even wait for a minute and rushed to the site from where people were watching the mighty Mount Everest (Sagarmāthā, Qomolangma” or “Mother Goddess of the Earth” in Tibetan), the tallest mountain in the world!

An hour later, the sun started going down and the golden glow started increasing on Mount Everest peak. This was clearly one of the best sights of our lives, seeing the golden glow of the tallest mountain, in its best possible view! We were fortunate that clouds that had stayed on the peak earlier in the day had been on us and moved away! The atmosphere was surreal and divine. We stayed there till late evening soaking in the nature’s benevolence, and returned to the guest house. The rooms in the guest house had five beds, heated electrically and four shared a room.

Day 5 Everest base camp to Shigatse:

Next morning, We can visit the Rongbuk monastery that was in front of the guest house.

Old Dingri


Phola Gangchen

Gang penchen

Piku tso

New road of Saga

Jomolangma natural reserve 

Saga to Darchen

Saga 4500 m

National highway 219


Tratsangla 4800m

Nashong Tsangpo 

Togyui la 4920 m

Mount Manasalu 8163 8th highest 

Old drongba 145 km

Tradun Monastery 

Mount Anna purna 

New drongba

Sand dune

Yarlung Tsangpo river

Nepal dolpo region kopi kangri 

Baryang 110 km from drongpa 

Kunsang bridge

Ngari Bunsum

Mayum la check point

167 km 


Manasarovar lake

Dry fish


Mount kailash 

Darchen to Zhada

280 km yezi road ( highway 219 )

Dungkar Peyang 

Moincer 65km 

Ba er Bing zhan 

Rainbow mountains and lake views 

Indus river 

Tholing monastery

Guge kingdom

Zhada to Shi Quan He – Gar 

250 km HighwayG565 

Earthen Forest views,

Indus River 

Views of Nanda Devi, kāmet

Gar Tsangpo 

Xinjiang Tibet Highway G219

Intersection Ba Er Bing Zhan 130km

Ngari qunsha airport 45km

狮泉河打扮 pass 4785m

Hotel : near china post hotel 湘副楼商务酒店

Gar to Rutok Bagong tso 132 km 

back to Gar 132 

Speed limit check point 限速 80 minutes

Rumodong Petrogylps : prehistoric rock carve 

Lameyla 5128m

Maga tsangpo 

Nomad – hundred of Yaks

Tsomo Ngangla ringmo (height: 4240m ,size: 700km2  sharing with Ladakh 

deepest 40m average depth 5m)

Bird island


Wujiang village

Way to Xinjiang Yecheng 

Gar to Tsochen (

Rinchen shubtso


Zhari Namtso

Gar to Gertse  

G317 highway 

Speelimit 100 km 1 hr 26 min till Gegye


Tibetan gazelle   

Indus river

Gegye town 

Gegye to gertse 360 km 5hr 6 min spd lmt 

Nomads – 1000 of sheeps

Shongba town : Lunch / split  road to Yakra 

Wild donkey

Sekazhi Tso 

Nyer tso 4620 m dry salt lake Bartso Village

Zhapu tso – Yanhu Qu town Salt extractor 

xuxu lake – far view

Perotse Tso 4440 m 

Lake Tarab and lake wuma 4440m 

fresh water lake 87 km from gerze

Oma village 56 km 

Drying Salt lake without name 

Jakar tso lake 4220 

need to call PSB

Hotel : Fulong 0897 2650000

             Sheng Tai 

Gertse to Nyima 

Lhashong 114 km 1 Hr 38 min

Built in 2016 / 2017 

Miba tsangpo

Tong tso 55 km 

Split road to Tsochen 254 km

             Tari Namtso ( size: 950 km 2, 

Nyima county 339 km, 3rd largest lake)

Gang nyima mountain 

Rabdo tsangpo

Botsang tsangpo

Wuga tso 

drong village ah village

Nakchu prefecture



Mud rivers


Call PSB

Nyima xian 121 km till wunbu 

Nyima reservoir 

Dangchung Lake

Beicun – Kagyu Monastery 

Wunbu Nan cun

Dangra Yumtso (Da guo ri, seven pyramid resembles, size : 836km2 , yongdrung bon religion, centre of shangshung middle kingdom. Depth: 230 m, 4th Largest, 2nd deepest) 

Bon Monastery 

Return back to nyima town

         Split  way to shuanghu tsiu nyi county 

Hotel – Nyima Da Jiudian 

              Nyima Caikang da jiudian

Nyima to Banga  330 km 

highway G317 

Antelope paradise

Taktse tso 

Shuanghu Xian region 

jagoe Tso

Serling Tso (biggest lake, 2391 km2 , 

razha monastery 

Tso ngoo

Split way to Shan tsa county

Shung may drongtso 

Buchu tsangpo – Banga county area 

Spilt way to Shuang hu county 220km

                     Shunghu Glacier 

Jakar tsangpo 

Lamo tso pass 4700m

Banga Tso 

Banga town 

sang chu river

 Hotel: Namtso Hotel 

Banga town to Yangbachen 

Bamtso 4720m 

Split road to Nakchu district 

Chinglong village

Namri tso 

Tso lokyok 

Ta go La 5000m (Damshung border) 

Namtso village 

Namtso (1920km2 2nd Largest, )  

Samten kangsar Mount 

Lhaku dongtse mount

Tashi dor 

Lagen la 5200m


Dangla mountain ranges


Nyachen tangla 7162 m


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