Nickednamed ‘Roof of the World’, Tibet is one of the most enchanting destinations in China. A tumultuous history of inaccessibility, struggles, determination and resilience has not prevented it from being the dreamland of trekkers, pilgrims, spiritualists, and scenery-buffs alike. Today, it’s a country of extremes that offers a physical and mental feast with a side of mind purification, thanks to its astonishing landscapes and deep-rooted religious beliefs. While most spend a week or two exploring this landscape, we’ve come up with four must visits.
It’s impossible to fully understand the power of Tibet’s magic (and we’re not referring to its ‘spiritual powers’) until you’re there. Seeing crowds of elderly locals descending on Lhasa – the home of Jokhang Temple and the most venerated religious site in Tibet – after travelling for days to get there, is an incredible sight. You’ll get to witness devotees circle the city’s holy sites performing the kora, spinning their prayer wheels, and prostrating themselves on the ground.
With grand ice glaciers, wild prairies, vast valleys and gushing rivers, Tibet’s landscapes come with an impressive dose of dramatic. The soaring snow-capped mountains of Mount Everest won’t disappoint. You don’t even have to head to the Everest Base Camp to view and appreciate what mother nature has to offer. Add to this the holy lakes such as Yamdrok Lake and Namtso Lake, and you’ve got endless expanses that are nothing short of captivating.
The City Of Shigatse
Shigatse was once the capital of the Tsang kingdom, and here you’ll find the Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama who is buried there. Here, you can explore its maze of paved alleyways and admire the stupa of the 10th Panchen Lama covered in gold and precious stones. Don’t miss the Maitreya Chapel, a 26m Buddha statue that took almost 10 years to erect.
Towering over Lhasa, this incredible palace of the Dalai Lama was once the world’s tallest structure, and is still a wonder today. First, visit the square directly opposite to capture the palace in its entirety, then join the hundreds of pilgrims performing the kora around its base. Finally, enter the gates, climb up the hill, and explore the various rooms with your guide.