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More than 4,900 metres above sea level, Tibet sits in between the Himalayan mountain range on a plateau of rock and snow and has been dubbed by locals as the ‘land of snows’ and the ‘roof of the world’. Tibet is a place of spirit and mystery, and the original source of the stories of the mythical Shangri-La valley and the Yeti (abominable snowman).
A Brief History Before Your Tibet Holiday
Tibet recently opened its doors to the world in the 1980s after many wars and revolutions with the Chinese in North East Asia, and is currently part of the People’s Republic of China. The Dalai Lama (supposedly the ruling leader of Tibet) now takes refuge in India. Tibet was traditionally inhabited by the native Tibetan-Burman Lhobas, Monpas and Qiang people, but is now inhabited by the Chinese Han and Hui people. Tibet has been unifying and dividing since the 7th Century as the Chinese and Mongol influences grew and shrank, with most of the unified territories centralised in Lhasa or Shigatse. The most devastating event of recent times was during the Great Leap Forward and Chinese Cultural Revolution (1950s-60s), which killed many Tibetans and destroyed many monasteries.
A Tibetan holiday is not complete without exploring this booming city. Lhasa is Tibet’s Capital, known as the “Palace of the Gods.” For those who keep a UNESCO world heritage checklist, Lhasa presents three wonderful restored sacred areas that you can tick off your must-see list:
The Potala Palace is 13 stories high, with 1,000 rooms and numerous pictures of the past Dalai Lamas, as well as great statues of Buddha. This used to be the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 1959 uprising, and is now a museum.
The Norbulingka Palace houses the most beautiful and largest man-made garden in Tibet. This is something to marvel at given that many flowering plants do not take well to cold weather and high altitudes.
The Jokhang temple was constructed in 642 AD by King Songsten Gampo and incorporates a blend of Nepalese, Indian vihara and Chinese Tang Dynasty design. It was originally named the Rasa Tulnang Tsuklakang (The House of Mysteries, The Magical Emanation at Rasa) and was built to house his first and second wives, who were considered to be very important at the time.
A river journey or viewing is a must when you travel to Tibet and the tranquil waters definitely beckon a snapshot. The most famous of Tibet’s Rivers include the Ganges, the Indus, and the Brahmaputra. Many of Tibet’s other rivers also connect the country with its neighbouring countries, and trips to the Mekong, the Salween, the Yangtze and the Tsangpo are all popular.
If you’re feeling like an adventurous Tibetan holiday, why not hire a local guide to take you on a beautiful trek to the Mount Everest base camp? You, too, can trek the same soft and dry passes and glittering lakes that Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay walked across in 1953. On your way, you can get to know the local Sherpa people, as well as view some of the world’s most spectacular mountain sights.
Always wanted to see Tibet? Travellers Choice has a wide range of experience in organising Tibetan holidays. Call us to plan your next holiday!