There are very few lands on earth which have captured man’s imagination for almost mystical aura then Tibet. This hidden kingdom, situated in the heart of Asia, is also called the "roof of the world". This vast expense of land is stunning and offers fantastic vistas mountains, plains, lake, people, and culture belonging to a lost world, far beyond the 20-century plane. Ever since Tibet was opened for tourist in 1984, many Tibet operators in Nepal are offering wide range of designed tour packages to suit every individual taste budget and schedule with guaranteed departure. Tibet is a land of dramatic landscapes, scared relics, butter lamp, illuminated temples and monasteries and deeply religious agile and hospitable people. This roof of the world something unique to offer to every traveler, from Lhasa, Potala palace, to the Jokhang Temple the spiritual center of Tibet, and Drepung Monastery to Lhamo Latso Oracle lake, whose water revealed clues which led to the identification of the 14th Dalai Lama, and Holy Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. This highland is the place of Sky burials, the indispensable yak and life sustaining salted butter tea, from which visitors will retain memories to the rest of their life.
The altitude of Tibet is over 4,000m above sea level. Possessing more than fifty peaks above 7,000m, Tibet is the home to eleven Himalayan mountains over 8,000m. India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and Pakistan are its bordering countries. Nomads have been remaining much the same as they did one hundred years ago. The nomads still subsist from their yak herds. The Tibetan people and their religion are inseparable. Even in their earliest myths, one finds references to Tibetan religious beliefs. The Bon religion dominated Tibet in the past. Gradually, after the introduction of Buddhist statues and later Sanskrit documents from India, Buddhism crept increasingly into Tibetan culture. Tibetan Buddhism is the culmination of some early Bon beliefs, Indian Buddhist texts and several great lamas. Buddhism and politics had been flourished in Tibet since King Tsrongsang Gampo got married with the then Nepali princess, Bhrikuti
A visit to Tibet is an astonishing experience. The traveling to Tibet is difficult and unpredictable. The infrastructure is poor to non-existent. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in the southwest of China, has held high the image and reputation of Tibet being "the Roof of the World". The majestic Tibetan highland stands on top of the world and its unique cultural tradition has owned an international fame. The great Himalayas lie in its south with the towering Mt. Qomolangma standing above all world's peaks.
In the ancient days, Tibet was a boundless sea. It is said that a large piece of continental plate on orogenic-movement drifting from the south met together with the European plate and a large stretch of highland was uplifted on the earth. The region with a high altitude and cold weather today had once been an area with a warm, humid climate of subtropical zone of grassland with low altitude which provided a profitable condition for ancient people to live and multiply in this land. Various researches show that the earlier cultural remains where mainly distributed in the east and middle part of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Before the 7th century, there were many tribes in Tibet. However, wars broke out as the tribes like- Tubo made their attempts to scramble for their domains. The earliest capital city of Tubo was in today's Nedong County in Lhoka. After Namri Songtsen, the thirty-second generation of Tubo prince inherited the power, consolidated and developed the Tubo's territory.
Later, in order to refrain from the interior opposite influence between the tribes, Namri Songtsen moved the national capital from Nedong to Gyama area, presented Medro Gonkar County, and built the Gyama palace. In the early 7th century, Songtsan Gampo, the son of Namri Songtsen, inherited the power and completed his father's cause and realized the unification of the Tibet plateau and set up the central slave regime-the Tubo Kingdom. In order to consolidate the newly emerging power, Songtsen Gampo adopted a series of important measures. For instance, in the year 633, he moved the capital of Tubo Kingdom to Lhasa, built the Potala palace on the summit of the Red Hill and rebuilt the road and some other houses around the Potala palace. Gradually, Lhasa had become Tubo's economic, political and cultural center. He was married with the princes Bhrikuti Devi of Nepal and ruled the country sagaciously. Unfortunately, due to his illness, he left this earth forever. No doubt, this brave king is remembered and will be remembered by the Tibetan people with pride even in the days to come.
Tibet Autonomous Region situated in the west of China has a total area of 1.2 million sq.km, occupying one-eighth of the national total area. It is the second largest area in China. It is adjoined with Xinjiang and Qinghai to the north, Sichuan to the east, and Yunnan to the southeast. It is bordered to India, Nepal, Burma, Sikkim and Bhutan to the south and Kashmir to the southwest. Lhasa is not only the capital of Tibet, but the first largest city in Tibet. So, this region is known as "the roof of the world". It is said that there was an ancient sea. The geologists call it "the ancient sea of Turish". The landforms and historical remains can still be found in Tibet.
The topography of Tibet is divided into three different natural parts: the northern Tibet Plateau, the Nyanqin Tangula ranges and the river valleys. The Himalayas to the south of the Tibetan Plateau is the youngest and highest range on earth, which consist of a series of parallel ranges running from south to north. Its main part is at the juncture of three countries: China, Nepal and India. It has a distance of 2400km. in the length, 200-300km. in width. Its altitude is over 600m. the highest range in the world-Mt. Qomolangma, stands in the middle of the Himalaya range. In its surrounding are four of the world's 8000m peaks and thirty-eight of the 7000m. peaks. There are over 20 rivers whose flow coverage is over 10,000 sq.km and 100 rivers whose flow is over 2000sq.km. within the boundary of Tibet. Some of the notable rivers of Tibet are the Yangtse, the Gyalmo Ngulchu, the Zachu, and the Yarlung Tsangpo. We also find more than 1500 lakes in the plateau of Tibet.
Custom of Tibet
Tibet is rich in its custom and culture. Presenting hada is a common practice among the Tibetan people to express their best wishes on various occasions, such as wedding ceremonies, festivals, visiting the elders and the betters, and entertaining guests. The white hada, a long narrow scarf made of silk, embodies purity and good fortune.
It is common when you come to a Tibetan family, the host will propose a toast, usually barley wine. You should sip three times and then drink up. To entertain guests with tea is a daily decorum. The guest is not to drink until the host presents the tea. Similarly, one should not forget to say "la"after saying "hello" to the Tibetan people to show respect. It is recommended not to make any sound while eating and drinking.
Sky burial is another custom in Tibet. There are many prohibitions in Sky burial. Strangers are not allowed to attend the ceremony. Visitors should respect this custom and keep away from such occasions.
Also known as the Lamaism, the Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Tibet from the mainland and India in the seventh century. The Tibetan Buddhism consists of four major sects, the Ge-lug-pa (Yellow) Sect, the Nying-ma-pa (Red) Sec, the Saturday-kya-pa (Variegated) Sect, and the Ka-gyu-pa (White) Sect.
The immediate motivations of pilgrimage are varied, but for the ordinary Tibetan it amounts to a means of accumulating merit or good luck. The lay practitioner might go on pilgrimage in the hope of winning a better rebirth, cure an illness, and end a spate of bad luck or simply because of a vow to take a pilgrimage if a bodhisattva granted a wish.
In Tibet there are countless sacred destinations, ranging from lakes and mountains to monasteries and caves that once served as meditation. Specific pilgrimages are often prescribed for specific ills; certain mountains for example expiate certain sins. A circumambulation of Mt. Kailash offers the possibility of liberation within three lifetimes, while a circuit of Lake Manasarovar can result in spontaneous Buddha hood.
Festivals in Tibet
This beautiful peace of heaven is a land of feasts and festivals. It seems as if every morning begins with festival. The highlanders are very fond of celebrating festivals.
Tibetan New Year (February or March)
It is the greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD., the first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. On the New Year's day, families unite " auspicious dipper" is offered and the auspicious words " tashi delek" are greeted.
Butter Oil Lantern Festival (February or March)
It's held on the 15th of the first lunar month. Huge yak-butter sculptures are placed around Lhasa's Barkhor circuit.
Saga Dawa Festival (May or June)
It is the holiest in Tibet, there memorable occasions coincide on this day, Buddha's birth and Buddha's enlightenment. Almost every person within Lhasa join in circumambulations round the city and spend their late afternoon on picnic at " Dzongyab Lukhang" park at the foot of Potala.
Gyantse Horse Race & Archery (May or June)
Horse race and archert are generally popular in Tibet, andGyantse enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse race, archery, and shooting on gallop followed by a few days' entertainment or picnicing. Presently, ball games, track and field events, folk songs and dances, barter trade are in addition to the above.
Changtang Chachen Horse Race Festival (August)
There are many horse racing festivals in Tibet, the one in Nagqu of Northern Tibet is the greatest. August is the golden season on Northern Tibet's vast grassland. Herdsmen , on their horsebacks, in colorful dresses, carrying tents and local products, pour into Nagqu. Soon they form a city of tents. Various exciting programs are held, such as horse racing, yak racing, archery, horsemanship and commodity fair.
Shoton Festival (August)
It is one of the major festivals in Tibet, also known as the Tibetan Opera Festival. The founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Sect of Buddhism), Tsongkhapa set the rule that Buddhists can cultivate themselves only indoor in summer, to avoid killing other creatures carelessly. Because creatures are most active in summer. This rule must be carried out till the seventh lunar month. Then Buddhists go outdoor, accept yoghurt served by local peopel, and have fun. Since the middle of 17th century, the Fifth Dalai Lama added opera performance to this festival. Famous Tibetan opera troupes perform in Norbulingka (Dalai Lama's summer palace).
Bathing Festival (Sptember)
It is believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky, the water in the river becomes purest and cures diseases. During its appearance for one week, usually the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth lunar months, all the people in Tibet go into the river to wash away the grime of the previous year.
Kungbu Traditional Festival (November or December)
Long long ago,when Tibet was in danger of large scale invasion, the Kongpo people sent out an army to defend their homeland.It was in September and the soldiers worried that they might miss the New Year,highland barley wine and other good things.So people had the Tibetan New Year on 1st October ahead of time.To memorize those brave soldiers Kongpo people present three sacrifices an stay up at night from then on. And now it has becoe the Kongpo Festibal for entertainment like Kongpo dancing, horse race, archery and shooting.
Harvest Festival (September)
The farmers in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shangnan to celebrating their bumer harvest in this time. During that time, people enjoy with horse racing games, costum fashion show, songs and dance Archery and picnic etc.
Climate in Tibet
We find unique and complicated climate in Tibet. Generally, the air is thin and low pressure with low oxygen. We find more sunny days in Tibet as the sun is strong and sunshine time is long. Temperature varies greatly between day and night. There is great difference in the climate between the northern and southern Tibet. A number of valleys in the south of Tibet have warm climate with great rainfall due to the influence of the humid air current from the Indian Ocean.
The average temperature is about 8 degree celcious, the lowest temperature drop to -16 degree celcious. The highest temperature in those months comes up to 16 degree celcious. May to September is called the rainy season in Tibet. If we go to the north of Tibet, we find a typical continental climate. The average temperature drops below 0 degree celcious and the freezing season lasts for half of the year. Its highest temperature in July can't rise to 10 degree celcious. More rainfall in the night during the raining season and strong wind in winter is a common phenomenon. The whole year in Tibet can be divided into two different seasons: the dry season (October-April) and the rainy season (May –September).
Food in Tibet
Food and drink in Tibet are highly associated to climate, local products, religion and folk customs. The traditional food of Tibet are: butter tea, barley flour, sweet tea, beef, mutton, barley, pea, horse bean, potato, round root and white lotus. The butter tea is the most common drink in Tibet. Apart from this, Tibetans like to drink barley which tastes a bit sour. The main traditional food of Tibet is barley flour which is eaten with a proper amount of butter and sugar stirred together.
Besides, the Tibetan noodles, breads, cakes, all have a special taste. Tibetan food has its own cuisine. There are more than 48 dishes in the noble banquet. Tibetans avoid dog and donkey meat. All kinds of fruits, wines and fresh vegetables can be found everywhere. Tibet is vast in territory and rich in variety of products, exquisite of traditional craftsmanship and many local specialities. All restaurants of various classes are decorated and furnished in the traditional Tibetan style. Diners can enjoy delicious Tibetan dishes while admiring paintings and murals symbolizing happiness and good luck in the restaurants.
Exploration of the Tibetan capital, you visit the Potala (open on wed, Fri and sun), the monumental
This is the shortest and the most direct approach to Mt. Kailash and Manosarovar, best suited for th
Mount Kailash, located in far west corner of Tibet, is the most sacred peak of Asia. The beauty of t