Sacred. Rugged. Timeless.
Though sacked during the Cultural Revolution, this iconic building remains a symbol of Tibetan autonomy and seat of the government-in-exile of the Dalai Lama. Stroll through its 13 stories for a taste of Tibet’s traditional culture and stunning architecture.
The country’s spiritual center, this 7th-century temple hums with the whir of spinning prayer wheels and the shuffling footsteps of devotees making their kora (a sacred clockwise circuit) around the temple grounds.
Filling the streets around the Jokhang Temple, this sprawling market draws hundreds of merchants, traders and craftsmen from all over Tibet selling everything from incense and prayer scarves to housewares, traditional turquoise jewelry, yak butter and favorite local snacks.
Once the world’s largest monastery, housing 10,000 monks, this expansive complex is now home to a smaller community of monks who proudly care for its art and cultural artifacts. Wander the atmospheric halls and pay a visit to the gigantic medieval kitchen—it’s like stepping into another world.
These caves are one of the holiest retreats in Tibet, having been used for meditation by such notables as Guru Atisha, the Bengali Buddhist who spent 12 years proselytizing in Tibet, and King Songtsen Gampo. Hundreds of prayer flags decorate the atmospheric mountainside.
Legend has it this ancient structure was the first building in Tibet. Rebuilt several times since then, now its graceful tower looks over the whole valley.
Sporting a massive fortress, stupa and monastery filled with beautiful 15th-century murals and thangkas in remarkably good condition, a visit to Gyantse is a must for understanding traditional Tibetan culture.
During peak climbing months, this rocky basin is filled with tents and people and buzzing with the excitement of anticipated ascents. From here, the view of the peak is unobstructed and the enormity of the mountain is utterly overwhelming.
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