What is Tibet Known For? Why Tibet is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip?
For most people, hearing the word “Tibet” conjures up images of monks, meditations, mountain peaks with ice rolling over, blue skies, red robes and maybe, the divine Shangri-La. In reality, Tibet is so much more than that. This paradise, known as the “Roof of the World”, is the highest place on the planet, with an average elevation of 4,900 meters. This enigmatic, yet striking land, which lies on a plateau north of the Himalayas, has long been a dream destination for many outsiders.
Ever since the start of the 20th century, this massive, serene land has attracted numerous tourists with its royal scenery and unique religious culture. The authenticity in the air of Tibet has proven to provide peace and fulfillment to visitors from different parts of the world. The region hosts different kinds of festivals all throughout the year, so, whether you want something unequivocally religious, such as the disciples following monks towards sacred lakes and monasteries, or some food festival hosting the traditional delicious Tibetan cuisine and the popular butter tea, you will always find a reason to convince you to be here.
Unique Climate and Topography in Tibet
The region attracts all kinds of tourists because of its varied culture and never-fading beauty. The weather is never the same in Tibet, and the different seasons bring out the different faces of this enigma, thereby making it an ideal spot for a vacation for you regardless of whether you adore mild temperatures and endless sunshine or shivering snow and blurred isolated surroundings.
The stunning alpine scenery of Tibet captivates everyone’s imagination. Floras and faunas find homes in their realm of happiness, where Mother Nature rewrites her definition of beauty with eternal peace and mountainous glory. However, living in the harsh weather conditions in Tibet should not be taken lightly. Some seasons are best for travel, usually in between April and October, while others, during winter especially, tourists can experience the most intense Buddhist atmosphere. Since winter is the off-season of Tibet tour, not only can you enjoy cheaper hotels and attraction ticket fare but also the ideal flight and train tickets and many tourism promotional events, plus diverse religious and cultural festivals.
Distinct Buddhist Culture in Tibet
The culture of Tibet is as distinctive as its high mountains and thousands of sacred lakes, and has its basis in both, among other things. Geographic and climatic conditions have helped to shape the unique culture of the Tibetan plateau, with no small influences from neighboring India, Nepal, and China. The remoteness of the plateau, sitting high on the other side of the Himalayas, is also a reason for the unique culture of the region, preserving the distinct local cultures of the ancient Tibetan people and stimulating the development of a culture that can survive in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
Tibetan Buddhism has an significant influence on local Tibetans.
Tibetan Buddhism is also a major part of the Tibetan culture, inextricably linked in such a way that the daily lives of the people are often hugely influenced by their devout religious beliefs. Since its introduction in the 7th century, Buddhism has had the most profound influence on the Tibetan culture of all. And even Buddhism has been adapted to better suit the Tibetan people and way of life, influenced by local animistic beliefs and the ancient Bon religion of the plateau that came before.
Holy Lakes and Mountains in Tibet
Tibet is a land of high mountains and huge lakes, all of which have some religious or holy significance in Tibetan religion and culture. Of the lake, the most sacred is the Great Three Holy Lakes of Tibet: Lake Manasarovar, Lake Yamdrok, and Lake Namtso. These three huge lakes are part of the mainstays of Tibetan Buddhist devotion, and intense pilgrimage locations on the plateau. Lake Namtso, in northern Lhasa, is known as the “Heavenly Lake” in Tibet, and has links to the guru Padmasambhava, who stayed at the meditation caves nearby.
Yamdrok Lake, one of the Great Three Holy Lakes of Tibet.
Lake Yamdrok, shaped like a fan or a Chinese character, is known as the heart of Tibet and the lifeblood of the plateau, believed to be one of the holiest lakes in the world. Lake Manasarovar is often considered to be the holiest of even these three sacred lakes. Revered in both Hinduism and Buddhism, it is believed to have been the place where Maya Devi conceived Siddhartha Gautama, who went on to become the Sakyamuni Buddha.
Mountains are also a huge part of Tibetan Buddhism, and it is believed that gods reside at the top of these massive peaks. On the border with Nepal lies Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain and the most sacred peak for the Sherpa people of the Himalayas. To the north, in Ngari Prefecture, sits one pyramid-shaped mountain of black rock known as the most sacred mountain on earth. Believed to be the earthly representation of Mount Meru, the legendary mountain at the center of the universe, Mount Kailash has never been climbed due to its revered status in four separate religions.
Colorful Religious Tibetan Festivals
Festivals in Tibet are not just a colorful celebration for the Tibetan people; they are also an important religious ceremony that has reference and meaning in Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans love festivals, and whenever one is on, they will travel for many miles to attend and pray and have fun.
Locals are celebrating Saga Dawa Festival at Mt.Kailash
Some of the most stunning festivals happen in Tibet, such as the famous Saga Dawa Festival, which is held annually to celebrate the birth, death, and enlightenment of Buddha, or the secular Shoton Festival, believed to have started hundreds of years ago in honor of the monks who spent 100 days in meditation and fasting to avoid killing even the smallest creature. In thanks for their sacrifice, the local people would bring milk curds to the monks to help them regain their strength and as an offering.
Perhaps the most popular and biggest festival in Tibet, though, is the Tibetan New Year, known locally as Losar. While the date of Losar changes every year, it is similar to the Chinese New Year, and is always held on the first day of the New Year in the Tibetan lunisolar calendar. Losar is a celebration of the end of one year and the beginning of another, of new beginnings and fresh starts, of praying for a bountiful and prosperous year, and of being with family at the most important days of the year.
Lhasa - The City of Sunlight
Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, is known as the “City of Sunlight” because of its massive number of sunny days throughout the year. The city lies on the banks of the Lhasa River, also known as the Kyi Chu, a tributary of the vast Yarlung Tsangpo River, which later becomes the Brahmaputra.
Lhasa has a wealth of sights and attractions, which includes the famous Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibetan Buddhism and the home of the spectacular Jowo Sakyamuni, the golden statue of Buddha that was brought to Tibet in the 7th century.
Potala Palace, one of the landmarks of Tibet.
However, while the Jokhang is famous, the most iconic landmark in Tibet, outside Mount Everest, is the beautiful Potala Palace. Sitting on top of the Red Hill, or Moburi, this amazing red and white palace was built in the 16th century to be the center of the monastic governance of Tibet, and is an amazing testament to Tibetan building and architecture.
All of this, and more, can be seen on almost any tour that includes a two-day stop in Lhasa for acclimatization, which is almost every tour to Tibet. Lhasa is the heart of religion and culture in Tibet, and is one of the most spectacular cities in the world, not to mention that it is the world’s highest capital city.
Nyingchi - Surprisingly Beautiful Land in Eastern Tibet
Known alternatively as Linzhi, Nyingchi is the easternmost prefecture of Tibet, as well as the lowest in terms of altitude. This makes the climate milder and more pleasant, and an ideal place to start a tour of Tibet for those that have never been to the plateau lands before. An outstandingly beautiful region of the Tibetan plateau, Nyingchi is renowned for its lush green valleys, burbling streams and rivers, high snow-clad mountains, and the amazing Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, the largest canyon in the world.
Lunang Forest, a fariy land in Nyingchi, Tibet.
Tibetan Nomads - The Unique Nomadic Tribe Living on the Tibetan Plateau
Once, long ago, all Tibetans were nomads, wandering the plains and prairies of the plateau with their herds of yaks and sheep, looking for the best pasture lands. The nomads lived a unique existence, living their entire lives on the plateau’s grasslands, sleeping in yak-hair tents, and following a unique and ancient form of animal husbandry that treated the land like a friend.
Nomads would move from grazing land to grazing land, following a distinct pattern that would respect the lands they lived on and used, and allow it to recover properly from the grazing before returning to it in the distant future. It was this symbiosis with the land that allowed them to survive in one of the world’s most hostile environments.
Nowadays, there are fewer nomads in Tibet, but those that remain still follow the same way of life of their ancestors, and still follow the pattern of the land for grazing and recovery. Nomads can still be seen in Tibet on many of the plains and prairies, most notably the Changtang Grasslands in Nagqu Prefecture, and in the south in Shannan Prefecture, also known as Lhoka. A generous and hospitable people, these amazing herders have an ever-optimistic outlook on life, and prosper in this most inhospitable of landscapes.
Tibet is undoubtedly the most unique and spectacular land on the planet. Set high above the rest of the world, on an isolated plateau that sits at an altitude where most people would never survive, this unique land, with its equally unique people, culture, and religion is the trip of a lifetime for anyone with an interest in what it is like to truly live. While the land may be inhospitable, the Tibetan people have survived and thrived in this desolate region, and have become a culture and people that are the most outstanding ever. If you have any doubts about how special Tibet is, then come and see for yourself. We are certain that you will be amazed.
Best time to travel Tibet
Holy Mt. Kailash
Nagqu Horse Racing Festival