This dominant landmark of Lhasa is 117 meters above the city below. Construction started on the red hill in 1645 during the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. An immense building, 13 stories high with walls 3 meters thick containing over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues it was both the residence of the current Dalai Lama and tomb of the former Heads of state. The entire building is made of stone and wood and covers an area of 130,000 square meters. The Potala is full of elaborate art work and frescos that tell many stories.
On the banks of the Kyichi River, there is a tree and flower filled park known as the Norbulingka or the Jewel Park covering a total area of 360,000 square meters, the park was originally laid out in the 1750s. There are fountains, pavilions, terraces and stone tablets where visitors may rest amidst the numerous kinds of flowers and various colours.
The whole park consists of two main parts -Norbulingka at the Eastern area and Jianselingka at the Western area.
Norbulingka is also the site of the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas (8th to 14th). The small palace of the 13th Dalai Lama is an odd mix of traditional Tibetan architecture and modern paraphernalia, such as a Philips radiogram and Victorian bathroom fittings! At Nobulingka you will also find the one and only zoo in Tibet.
The foremost monastery in Tibet, built in the 7th century AD and now housing the most prized Buddhist relic, a 1300 year old Sakyamuni Buddha statue. The main section of the temple is topped with golden roofs found nowhere else except in Tibet. Watch the many worshippers pay their respects and prostrating themselves at the main gate. The monastery is encircled with the Barkhor Bazaar a sacred pilgrim path, but also a lively & colourful market where you can bargain over such treasures a ornate long – bladed knives, prayer wheels and exquisite jewelry.
Sera is more like a small town on the outskirts of Lhasa at the base of Tatipu hill. It is the main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa ‘Universities’ – once housing more than 5500 monks. Here one can see the young novices learning scriptures in the Debating Garden and being rewarded for a correct answer with a resounding hand – clap from their Master, Sera is also the birthplace of Tibetan medicine.
Drepung monastery is situated in the west suburbs of Lhasa city. Formerly the largest and richest monastery in the world with 10,000 monks,it is the size of a small town and lies sprawled over the size of a small town and lies sprawled over the side of a mountain 8 km from Lhasa. Of particular interest is the medieval monk’s kitchen with its great cauldrons of steaming barley ‘stamp’ sitting on top of huge earthen stoves and tented by saffron – robed monks wielding massive ladles.
From the roof of the monastery one can enjoy the natural beauty of the Lhasa valley to one’s heart content.
Once Tibet’s third most important city, lying in the Nyangchu valley along the main routes from India and Nepal to Lhasa. In former times it was a fort, the centre of Tiber’s wool trade and a gateway to the outside world. Other spots of interest: Palcho monastery and the Kumbum Chorten (Stupa).
Shigaste is Tibet’s second largest city. It is the administrative centre for 18countries in southern and western Tibet. Besides its fiche cultural heritage, Shigatse has and abundance of native fruits and products. At the bazaar, there are more than 300 stalls selling local produce as well as colourful and elaborate handicraft, accessories, antiques and porcelains. In Shigatse one can also find Tashilumpo monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. The Monastery, built in 1447 by a nephew of Tsong Khapa once housed over 4000 Monks, but now there are only 600.
Lhasa, the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, has a history of more than 1,300 years. It is the political, economic, cultural and transport center of the region. Lhasa covers an area of close to 30,000 square km. It has a downtown of 544 square km and a population of 400,000; 140,000 of its people live in the downtown area. Lhasa is home to the Tibetan, Han, and Hui peoples, as well as many other ethnic groups, but the Tibetan ethnic group makes up 87 percent of the total population. Lhasa has beautiful scenery. The Lhasa River, known as the “merry blue waves,” runs through the snow-covered peaks and gullies of the Nyainqentanglha Mountains, extending 315 km. The river empties into the Yarlung Zangbo River at Quxu, forming a scenic wonder that features blue and white water waves.
The ancient city of Lhasa stands by the Lhasa River. Inside the city towers the Potala Palace. The city features a combination of traditional and modern things, including prayer wheels and computers.
Located at the bottom of a small basin surrounded by mountains, Lhasa has an elevation of 3,650 meters and sits at 91’06E and 29’36N, the center of the Tibet Plateau. Blessed with flat land and mild weather, Lhasa is free of frigid winters and unbearably hot summers, having an annual average daily temperature of 8 degrees C (43 degrees F). It enjoys 3,000 hours of sunlight annually, much more than all other cities in this regard, giving the city its title of “sunlit city.”
Lhasa enjoys an annual precipitation of 500 mm. It rains mainly in July, August and September. The rainy seasons in the summer and fall are the best seasons of the year, when it rains mostly at night, and is sunny in the daytime.
Tsetang (Zetang) is the birthplace of earliest Tibetans and the political and economical centre of Shangnan prefecture. It sits on the south bank in the middle section of the Yarlung Tsangbo River with a moderate climate at an altitude of 3,600 meters.
The nearby Yarlung River scenic area is a national scenic park with Samye Monastery, Yumbu Lhakang Palace, burial site for Tsampos and Traduk Monastery spotting the region. It is located between two mountain ranges at the northern side of Himalayas, to the south of Nyanchen Tanggula mountains, just by the Yalong zangbu river, with land area over 800,000 square kilometers. The Yalong river flows from the south through the area and empty itself into Yalong zangbu river, hence the Yalong river formed a huge river delta at its end when it merges into another.
There are several No.1s – the first farming land, the first king of Tibet, the first palace (Yhongbulakhang), the first monastery in Tibet (Samye monastery). And several kings tombs are here: the world treasure-Pearl Tangka (A type of painting) was also and is still kept in Changdrok monastery.
The Chenpu meditation caves area (located to the north of Samye monastery) is still a dream place for Tibetan Buddhism practices. You can have a touch and visit to the holy lake Larmulatso – which was and now still the image reflection watching lake for finding clues to choose the rein carlated boy of the Past Dalhai Lhama and Panchan Lhama.