Why You Should Visit Lhoka Before Fully Understanding Tibet?
Lhoka also known as Shannan is a state level city located in the southeastern region of Tibet, China. It is indisputably the most prosperous region in Tibet and a great tourist destination at the same time. It is believed that the Tibetan civilization has primarily stemmed out of this very place. The city is the home to world’s first Buddhist monastery and this adds an additional value to its religious significance. Lhoka stands at an altitude of around 3600 meter from the sea level with a covering area of approximately 80000 sq. km. The nearest airport is located in Lhasa some 200km from this place. There are also convenient bus services from in and out from Lhoka. Moreover you will also get several budget hotels in this place.
Lhoka also known as Shannan.
The region is adorned with beautiful mountains, valleys, rivers, hot springs, lakes, caves as well as other natural attractions. Moreover the place has several ancient historical monuments and different art forms. All these make Lhoka a highly enriched region both in terms of natural beauty and cultural heritage. A striking feature of Lhoa’s weather includes a considerable difference between the temperatures in night and day. So you better keep proper woolen clothes in your bag pack to enjoy the freezing charms at nights.
As for the shopping you won’t get much in this place except for the Barkhor street. Don’t forget to try the air-dried meat in Yamdrok if you are a foodie. You can buy different stone artifacts from the city market as your drawing room collection as well as for gifting purposes. Different local festivals are celebrated in Lhoka with much enthusiasm and it is also one of the main attractions for foreign and native tourists. Some of the notable festivals include Lhka Barter fair and Yarlung cultural festival. The natural sights and sounds of the place with some of the panoramic viewpoints are truly mesmerizing. Also visit the age old monasteries and temples for your spiritual enlightenment. Some of the chief attractions of Lhoka are listed below.
Yumbu Lakang Palace
Yungbulakang is actually an antique structure situated in the Yarlung Valley in Lhoka. Standing on the mountain it looks very majestic and magnificent. As per legends it was the first palace of Nyatri Tsenpo, the first Tibetan king who is said to have descended from the heavens. The palace is believed to have been built up in the 2nd century BCE. And after a thousand year the palace was transformed into a monastery during the period of the 5th Dalai Lama.
Yumbu Lakang Palace
Yumbu Lakang Palace is divided into two precincts – rear and front. The front region comprises a three storied building and the rear portion has a tall castle like tower. You can enjoy the grand statues of Thiesung Sangjie Budhha and two eminent Tibetan kings namely Niechi and Songsten Gampo enshrined inside the palace. The interior of the palace features beautiful murals depicting the ancient Tibetan history to be enjoyed by the tourists.
You can visit the ground floor free of cost but to enter the first floor you are to pay 15 Yuan. At the top of the palace there is a watchtower which is open for the visitors. The tower offers you a splendid view of the far reaching landscapes enclosing the palace. Zortang, the first cultivated land in Tibet, is located just below Yumbu Lakhang and even today the local farmers collect soil from Zortang and sprinkle them on their farming land for a quality harvest.
Trundruk Monastery is located on the eastern bank of river Yarlung. It is one of the earliest and most sacred monasteries in Tibet and visited by countless tourists and pilgrims every day. It is said that Milariba and Padmasambhaba, two eminent Tibetan Buddhists practiced Buddhism in this place hence it is a highly sacred place for Buddhist pilgrims.
It is regarded as one of the chief historical sites of the state that are provided with special protection. Inside the monastery you will get to see a valuable treasure - a pearl Thanga. For your information Thanga is a type of Tibetan painting demonstrating Buddhism in an artistic way. It is about 2 meters in length and 1.2 meters in width. It is studded with 29026 pearls, 15.5 grams of gold, a beautiful diamond and a number of other precious gems. Admission fee for this monetary is 30 Yuan. The visiting time is 9 am to 4pm and you can easily spend around one and half hour in the monastery.
Samye, situated on the northern bank of river Yarlung Tsangpo, is one of the oldest monasteries in Tibet. It is also a great tourist attraction of Lhoka. Inside the monastery there are two beautiful marble statues bearing the carving pattern of the Tang dynasty. There is also a precious bronze bell curved with ancient Tibetan scripts all over. According to legends it is the first bell of Tibet. The monastery was once badly damaged by the Tibetan king Lang Derma, who forbidden Buddhism in Tibet and destroyed many Buddhist temples with that end in view.
Local people need not pay anything to visit the monastery but tourists are to pay 30 Yuan as entree fee. However students are allowed some discounts. Visiting hour is 9 am to 4 pm and keep at least 2 hours of time at hand when you go. The monastery has a small boarding house inside it which charges approximately 30 to 40 Yuan per from the tourists. You can book one of them if you have a passion for staying inside a monastery.
Dorje Drak, one of the six Nyingma monasteries of Tibet, is located in Shannan prefecture in south of Tibet. It was initially founded in Tsang and relocated in 1632 to its present location, a place with a tranquil setting. The monastery has a big chanting hall with a great statue of Padmasamphaba (Guru Rinpoche) inside it. It was plundered by the Mongolians in 1717 and was reconstructed under the supervision of the 7th Dalai Lama in 1720. But unfortunately it was again obliterated in 1960s. But it is gradually restituted in recent times. Tourists can enjoy the serene beauties of the monastery along with its peaceful surroundings.
Mindrolling Monastery is a famous ancient monastery in Tibet founded in 1676 by Rigzin Terdak Lingpa. It is one of the six principle monasteries belonging to Tibetan Nyingma School. It is situated in Zhang County, China which is more or less 42 kilometers from the Lhasa airport. This monastic university had trained numerous Nyingma yogis and scholars from Tibet. It used to teach Buddhist scriptures and traditional Tibetan calendar, rhetoric, calligraphy as well as medicine.
At one time the monastery had more than one hundred satellites dedicated to its own purposes. And the throne holder of the monastery was a highly revered person in entire Tibet. Close to Mindrolling there is a high Stupa of around 190 feet dedicated to the cause of world peace which is also a great attraction for tourists. It is worth mentioning that a group of monks in India established a branch of Mindrolling monastery in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India in the year 1965 and now it is one of the biggest Buddhist religious institutes present in India.
Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings also known as Chongye Valley is a series of burial mounds stretching far and wide. It is located near Yalung Tsetang Valley, Tibet. It comprises eight large tumuli which are deemed to contain eight graveyards of Tibetan kings inside them. The largest mound situated on the north bank of river Chonggye has a temple devoted to Songtsan Gampo, the creator of the Tibetan empire. At the center of the temple there is a statue of Gampo along with his two wives Wen Cheng and Tritsun. The wall of the temple is adorned with murals portraying different ancient Indian deities belonging to the 8th century AD. The place attracts numerous tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.
Tsetang also known as Zetang is a Tibetan city situated in the Yarlung valley. It has been the capital city of Yarlung and home to the ancient Tibetan kings since antiquity. And this is why it is a historically noted place in Tibet. Moreover it is located adjacent to flank of Gongbori a place with numerous ancient ruins. For all these reasons Tsetang is called the cradle of Tibetan civilization. This is an extremely fascinating place for those interested in histories of ancient cities. The city has several guesthouses and hotels to accommodate tourists coming from all corners of the world.
Join-in Classic Central Tibet Cultural Tours
Photos of Central Tibet Cultural Tour with Tibet Visa
Trekking around Shannan Prefecture
Practicing Yoga at the shore of turquoise Yamdrok Lake
A couple is coming down from the watchtower of Yumbu Lakang Palace.