Tibet

Tibet is a most unusual and beautiful land. The majority of this land rests above 4000 meters (13,000 feet) and is partially surrounded by mountain ranges. The awe-inspiring Himalayas are the highest in the world, as is the never-ending Tibetan plateau. Tibet is a place for the rugged adventurer as well as the spiritual wanderer. A land that is held back in time and houses many secrets. Nomads remain much the same as they did one hundred years ago. Then, there are the monasteries, which are striving to find a place in a country that’s crashing into the twentieth century. The Tibetan people and their religion have been inseparable. Even in their earliest myths one finds references to the Tibetan’s religious beliefs. Originally, the Bon religion dominated Tibet. After the introduction of Buddhist statues and later Sanskrit documents from India, Buddhism crept increasingly into the Tibetan culture. Tibetan Buddhism is the culmination of some early Bon beliefs, Indian Buddhist texts and several great lamas. Buddhism and politics had been interwoven since King Songsten Gampo married a Chinese and a Nepali princess, who were both integral in the emergence of Buddhism. It was the Fifth Dalai Lama who actually built the Potala Palace as the government seat and a religious center. A theocracy had prevailed until 1951. After centuries of virtual isolation Tibet is cautiously opening up to the western world. Officially, China has only opened the doors for travelers these past few years. A visit to Tibet is a marvelous experience, although it is not for the faint- hearted. The traveling is difficult, adventurous, and unpredictable. The infrastructure is poor to non-existent, making a simple road trip a complete adventure. Travelling in Tibet is not a simple trip but an experience of a lifetime, which we invite you to take with us. Tibet is one of those extraordinary destinations where adventure beckons. Road adventure is never short on the beautiful Trans Himalayan drive of over 970 kilometers, through four mountains passes, promising a panorama of a cultural and scenic diversity unsurpassable anywhere. It culminates on an arid plateau a veritable treasure of architectural masterpieces CUSTOMS: There is no prohibition on still and video cameras, tape recorders or radios as long as long as they are for personal use or if commercial use should be registered with a custom official. Printed matters considered unsuitable by the Chinese government are prohibited. Customs regulations forbid the export of art objects created prior to 1959 or souvenirs in amounts deemed to be excessive. FOOD & DRINKS: Tibet has only a handful of towns, and Tibetan cuisine is not exactly the most varied in the world. It is handy to carry anything that can be brewed with hot water. Instant coffee, drinking chocolate, tea (bags), soup cubes. Other food items worth considering are instant noodles, nuts and raisins, chocolate, dry foods and biscuits. BUSINESS HOURS: Government offices are usually closed on SATURDAY afternoon and all day SUNDAY. CURRENCY: RENMBI, the people’s money used by millions of Chinese everyday, circulates in notes of 1,2.5, 10 and 50 yuan; 1, 2, and 5 jiao; 1,2, and 5 fen. There are also coins for 1, 2, and 5 fen. With the Chinese Currency, Renminbi, one yuan is divided into 10 Jiao; into 10 fen. AIRPORT: Lhasa Gonggar Airport is approx. 96 Kms away from Lhasa. AIRPORT TAX: The airport departure tax at present is US$ 12.00 per person. AIR TICKET RECONFIRMATION: Your guide will reconfirm the air ticket upon payment of RMB 30, which is reconfirmation fee charged by China Southwest Airlines. CANCELLATION POLICY: A cancellation charge of 50% for confirmed bookings up to SEVEN DAYS before departure to TIBET will be charged after which NO REFUND will be entertained, Further under no circumstances will there be a refund on NO SHOW UPS and DELAY in ARRIVALS. HEALTH & ALTITUDE PROBLEMS: Travelling in Tibet involves high altitude and can be strenuous. Clients with heart and lung problems or blood diseases should consult their doctor before booking the trip. Very often the cases of altitude sickness have been reported. Simple headache, fever, loss of appetite or stomach disorders can happen before the acclimatization. Advised, drink approx. 03 Ltrs. Of water per day, do not strain yourself, move slowly, breathe deeply and take regular rests.

THE CLIENTS TRAVEL AT THEIR OWN RISK WHILE IN TIBET

Language and Culture

Tibetan is spoken in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and in parts of northern India (including Sikkim).

Tibetan history can be traced thousands of years back. However, the written history only dates back to the 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit. Tibet's history can be diveded into four period:

1. The Tsanpo's Period
This period starts from Nyatri Tsanpo, the first of the Tsanpos, in 127 B.C(historians differ in view of the date, but this date is taken from the White Annales, a reliabl book on Tibetan history) and ends in 842 A.D. at the death of Lang Dharma, the last of the Tsanpos, who was assassinated by a buddhist monk owing to Lang Dharma's ruthless persecution of Buddhism. During this period some 42 Tsanpos had ruled over Tibet among which Songtsan Gampo's rule was considered as the zenith. Songtsan Gamoi was an outstandingruler, he unified Tibet, changed his capital to Lhasa, sent Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit and promulaged a script for the Tibetan on the latter's arrival to tbiet, married Princess Wencheng of the tang Court and Pricess Bhrikuti Debi of Nepal, built the Potala and the temple and the temple of Jokhang.

2. The period of Decentrailzation
This period began in 842 A.D. the year of Lang Dharma's assassination, and ended in about 1260 A.D, when Pagpa, the Abbot of Sakya monastery, became a vassal of Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. During this period a little is known in history except that Tibet vecame decentralized into a number of petty principalities.

3. The period of Sakya, Pagdu, and Karmapa's Rule
This period began with Sakya's rule over Tibet, followed first by Pagdu's rule in Lhaoka and then by Karmara's rule in the Tsang region(Shigatse). The sakya period was the time whten tbiet officially became an inseparable part of China. This period lasted from 1260 A.D to 1642 A.D during which political powers centered in the three regions of Sakya, Pagdu, and tsang successively ruled over Tibet.

4. The period of the gandan Podrang's Administration
This period is the period in which the Dalai Lama ruled Tibet. It started in 1642 A.D. when the 5th Dalai Lama overtook the ruling power from the Tsang ruler. It basically ended in 1951 when tibet was liberated and came to a complete end in 1959 when rebellion led by the Dalai Lama was pacified and the People's Government of the Tibet, Autonomous Region was set up.

CURRENCY & FOREIGN EXCHANGE

1USD = 8.3 yuan

Tibet FOR TOURISM

Lhasa:

The capital city of Tibet, at an altitude of 3670m, is situated on the north bank of the Kyichu River, a tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo river, this city 1st became the capital in the 7th century. Lhasa in Tibetan means "Place of the Gods" and Potala Palace, the residence of the Dalai lama(the god king), is the earthly representation of the celestial Palace of avaloketeswora, the Buddha of infinite compassion whose incarnation in the human form is believed to be the Dalai lama. As Tibet's political, religious and cultural center, it is a city truly blessed by the gods where life is unhurried, its people jovial and yet remaining staunchly independent.Climate in summer is one of the mildest in the world, no fear of hot or cold, during the raining season it usually rains at night, at day time almost everyday is fresh and sunny, in winter, nighttime is cold, but day time still is mild.

Potala Palace:

The potala palace of the Dalai lama , now more a museum than a palace.This palace is surely one of the wonders of the world. It rises more than 3000m over the valley floor.This legendary palace, built atop a single hill, is synonymous with Tibet. First built in the 07th century, as a fortress by Tibet's foremost king. Songtsen Gompo. It was expanded to its present structure during the 17th century by the 05th Dalai Lama. The Potala was seat and symbol of the Dalai Lama Unique rule over the temporal and spiritual affairs of Tibet. This 13 storey, 1000 rooms, living quarters of the Dalai Lamas and apartments for Regents, Tutors, High Lama, Splendid ceremonial areas, offices of chapel, Shrine and corridors, Treasuries, cells for monks and servants, granaries and store rooms. The 5th Dalai Lama Kudung (chorden), is covered with 3700 gold and the 13th Dalai Lama, with a ton of gold besides priceless jewels.

JOKHANG TEMPLE:

Situated at the heart of the old town of Lhasa, the Jokhang Temple was built in the 7th century. It is said to have taken three years for Songtsen Gampo, Princess Bhrikuti and Princess Wencheng from the tang jointly to build it . The main chapel is a four storeyed building and integrates with the architectural style of Han, Tibetan, India and Nepal into the more embodied of the cosmological view of Buddhism. The whole temple is centered on the big chapel which is symbolized the core of the universe. The Shakyamuni chapel is the heart of the Jokhang temple.Surrounding the Jokhang Temple is the bustling Bharkhor market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa.

SERA MONASTERY:

Located at the foot of Sera Utse mountain to the north of Lhasa city, the Sera is one of the three largest monasteries in Lhasa as well as one of the six biggest monasteries of Geluk sect of Tibetan Buddhism in our country. Sakya Yeshi, the famous disciple of Tsongkapa, built it in 1419. The 27th of the twelveth month in Tibetan calendar is its grand"Sera Monastery" festival. The pilgrims from other places come swarming here in excitement.

NORBULINGKHA PALACE:

The Norbu Lingka, literally " jewel Garden", was the summer palace for the Dalai Lamas. Located in the west suburb of Lhasa, it was built in the 40's of the 18th century and covers an area of 36 hectares. It was a resort for the 7th Dalai Lama for bathing in fountain. At the time, the high commissioners of the Qing dynasty stationing to Tibet built the first palace for the 7th Dalai Lama. Consequently, the 8th, the 13th, and the 14th dalai lamas had their palaces built here. Throught 200 years expansion and management, it has become a large garden and palace today. The palace is an interesting mixture of religious and modern elements and as we walk through to see the main throne hall, an audience hall, The Dalai Lama's Bed room and prayer room and the room for bis mother. This Colorful garden landscape was the site of picnic and public gatherings. During every holiday, people come here in dressing their best and with their tents and food with themselves, singing and dancing till night.The palaces are richly decorated, creating an atmosphere of peaceful repose.

 

BHARKHOR MARKET:

 

Encircling the circular street of the jokhang Temple, a distance of 500m, is the flourishing Bharkhor Market taken completion with the Jokhang Temple. The Bhakhor Market serves as a circumambulation circuit and a shopping center as well. Many commodities in the Bhakhor Market are displayed with the characteristics of Tibet including local folk artcrafts, Tibetan-style daily goods. One may have chance to taste the right flavour of Tibetan food here.

 

Basically, the Tibetan climate is not as harsh as many people imagine it to be. The best time of year to be in Tibet is from April to the beginning of November, after which temperatures start to plummet. The central Tibet, including Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tsedang, generally has very mild weather from April to November, though July and August can be rainy - these two months usually see around half of Tibet's annual rainfall. October and November often bring some dazzling clear weather and daytime temperatures can be quite comfortable at Tibet's lower altitude.

The coldest months are from December to February. It is not impossible to visit Tibet in winter. The low altitude valleys of Tibet (around Lhasa, Shigatse and Tsedang) see very little snow. Spring does not really get under way until April, though March can have warm sunny days and is not necessarily a bad month to be in Tibet. More specific information in different areas :

Lhasa - the border of Nepal/China: The Friendship highway is basically in good conditions year around. But from December to February, the thawed road could make some trouble Besides, try to avoid August - landslide could happen in the rainy season.

Mt. Everest Region:
Early May and early October are the best time to visit Mt. Everest. Due to the clear weather, you have great chance to see Mt. Everest's true face. From December to February, it's too cold to go to this region. But the magnetism of Mt. Everest always attracts people anytime of the year.

Ali (Mt.Kailash):
Even without climate restrictions, this area is already inhospitable. Big rain and snow could make the journey worse. However, for those determined tourists, the appropriate time is May, June, July, September and October.

Eastern Tibet:
Don't touch this area in July or August, the rain could ruin the road, and make terrible landslides. While in winter, the road could be frozen.

Northern Tibet:
With the average altitude of 4,500m, this area offers very limited time for tourists. Summer is the prime time to enjoy the great plain in northern Tibet.

Temperature in Lhasa

 Month 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
 The Highest (°C) 6.8 9.2 12 13.7 19.7 22.5 21.7 20.7 19.6 16.4 11.6 7.7
 The Lowest (°C) -10.2 -6.9 -3.2 0.9 5.1 9.2 9.9 9.4 7.6 1.4 -5 -9.1

General Information

Tibet is a most unusual and beautiful land. The majority of this land rests above 4000 meters (13,000 feet) and is partially surrounded by mountain ranges. The awe-inspiring Himalayas are the highest in the world, as is the never-ending Tibetan plateau.

Special Events & Festivals