Zêtang has been the capital of Yarlung since ancient times and was the seat of the ancient emperors of Tibet and, as such, a place of great importance. In the 19th century it is said to have contained some 1,000 houses, a bazaar, a Gompa and a fort.
As the capital of the Shannan Prefecture, it is the second-largest town in the historical Ü-Tsang region. It is at an elevation of 3,100 metres (10,170 ft) and has a population of about 52,000. It is only about 4 km to the northeast of the town of Nêdong but they have now basically merged into one city.
It is situated near the flank of Mount Gongbori (3,400 metres (11,200 ft)) and is home to many ancient ruins. It is known as the cradle of Tibetan's civilization. Samye, Tibet's first monastery, is located only 30 km from Tsetang and was founded in 779 CE by King Trisong Detsen.
The 14th century monastery of Tsetang, Ganden Chökhorling, was originally Kagyupa but was taken over by the Gelugpas in the 18th century. It was destroyed by the Chinese but has been restored since. Ngamchö is also a Gelugpa monastery and contains the bed and throne of the Dalai Lama and has a chapel devoted to medicine. The Samten Ling and Drebuling monasteries of the Sakyas still remained in 1959 but have since been destroyed and mostly built over. There is, however, the reconstructed Gelugpa Sang-ngag Zimche Nunnery, in the ruins of Samten Ling with a 1000-armed statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) said to have been made by Emperor Songtsän Gampo (605 or 617 - 649 CE).
The town supposedly dates back to the founding of the Tsetang Gompa in 1351 which became an important centre of learning.
One of three caves in the mountainside to the east of the town is said to be the birthplace of the Tibetan people who resulted from the mating between a monkey and a beautiful cannibal ogress.
About 5 km south of Zêtang is Changzhug Monastery founded during the reign of Songtsen Gampo and about 10 km further is Yumbulagang which, according to legend, was built as a palace for the first king, Nyatri Tsenpo, and was the first building in Tibet.
There are several hotels and a guesthouse.
Day 1: Lhasa Arrival
Welcome to the roof of the world! Your Tibet journey starts with a warm Tibetan style greeting from your local tour guide who will present you with Hada (traditional Tibetan scarves). You will be picked up at the airport or train station, and then be escorted to your hotel in Lhasa city at the comfort of your own private vehicle. During the hour long drive to your hotel in the city, you can enjoy the breathtaking view along the Yarlong Tsangpo River. Tibetan features can be seen along the way, including Big Buddha engravings on the hill near the road, colorful prayer flags and friendly Tibetan people.
Overnight at Lhasa.
After you arrive at your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the local area and become acclimatized to this high altitude city at the top of the world.
Tips: The altitude in Lhasa is about 3,650m above sea level. Take time out to relax and acclimate to the high altitude after arrival at your hotel. We recommend that you avoid strenuous activity for the first few days. It is advisable that you do not take showers. For first time visitors, it is common to have different degrees of high altitude sickness symptoms. Drink more water, have fresh fruits and plenty of rest will help to prevent the sickness. Have a good rest tonight, and get ready for tomorrow’s journey.
Day 2: Lhasa (B)
Take the challenge of climbing up to Potala Palace (3,650m above sea level) and get a great view of Lhasa’s urban areas. Great photographic opportunities along the way will overwhelm you as great view of the traditional Tibetan architecture is nothing short of spectacular. Hear the story of Dalai Lamas and see chapels where Dalai Lama studied, rested and worked in. Pass former Lama graves which are decorated with beautiful treasures.
Continue your tour to Jokhang Temple, which is within walking distance from Potala Palace. It is considered the spiritual center of Tibet. You will see many pilgrims worshipping within or nearby the temple. Enter the first floor of the temple and absorb the religious atmosphere, you will see pilgrims donating butter oil to keep the lights burning for Lord Buddha. While learning about Buddha and Lamas, more than you can possibly remember, you will acquire a huge respect and knowledge of the vast history of Tibetan Buddhism. You might also hear red-robed Lamas praying. Walk up to the roof of the temple, take some pictures of the golden roof and enjoy the beautiful sunshine of Lhasa while observing pilgrims praying and chanting mantras in front of the temple.
Finally, join the locals in a traditional pilgrimage route by taking a relaxing walk in a large circular path around Jokhang Temple at Barkor Street. The street is filled with pilgrims taking part in religious activities and street vendors selling a wide variety of traditional Tibetan goods and religious items. If you like you can also ask your tour guide take you to visit a Thangka workshop to marvel the fabulous Thangka art work. There are cafes along the street as well where you can lay back and enjoy one lazy afternoon of Lhasa life.
Tips: As you climb up to the Potala Palace, you might experience slight shortness of breath due to the exertion. Take your time and rest whenever needed. Please try not to bother pilgrims; you can take pictures from a distance. In Barkor Street, you will have a chance to pick a few unique souvenirs for your friends and do remember to bargain and compare the price in different shops. If you still want to go out in the evening, you may go to the square on your own in front of the Potala Palace around 8:30 p.m. to enjoy the 2-hours music fountain for free. Or else, simple take pleasure by looking at all the beautiful pictures you took during the day and get good sleep! On this day, you will be mainly outside, therefore you are required to bring plenty of water, a hat, sun cream, and sun glasses.
Day 3: Lhasa (B)
After breakfast, you are driven to visit the Norbulingka Park, the former summer palace of Dalai Lama. Explore the beautiful gardens and experience one of the most holy sites in Tibetan Buddhism while soaking up the rich history. Next, come to Drepung Monastery, which were once the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery housing 10,000 monks in its heyday. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks.
Your tour ends at Sera Monastery, where you will get the chance to experience “Buddhism Scriptures Debating”. These debates are unique to Sera and are quite famous. Enjoy the debates!
Tips: This day, you will be driven to the outskirts of Lhasa City and will spend less than an hour driving in total. The road condition is good. A little walking or climbing is involved. You are required to pack plenty of water with you along with your sun glasses and sun cream.
Day 4: Lhasa – Tsedang (B)
After breakfast today, drive to Tsedang, located by Yarlung Valley, the capital of Shannan Prefecture. It’s known as “the Cradle of Tibetan Civilization” for two main reasons: first, its mild weather and fertile land conceived Tibet's dynasties; second, it’s the supposed birthplace of the first Tibetans who were said to be the offspring of a monkey and a demoness. Today you will visit the Yumbulakang and Trundruk monastery. Yumbulakang is known as Tibet's first palace. It has a very long history, and boasts many sculptures and paintings from ancient times. While visiting Trundruk monastery, you will see a stunning Tangkha of Pearls decorated with a total of 29,026 pearls.
Tips: Yumbulakang monastery has a history of over 2,000 years and is just a short (10-15 minute) walk from Trandruk monastery. Traveling from Lhasa to Tsedang will take about 5 hours, with a wide paved road in good condition. The altitude of Tsedang is 3,580m.
Day 5 Tsedang – Lhasa (B)
This day’s visit is to Samye Monastery which is a 40km drive from Tsedang city. Samye is the first monastery built, with a history of over 1,000 years. Samye monastery's buildings have three distinctive styles of architecture: Tibetan, Han and Indian. Then you drive back to Lhasa.
Tips: Be sure to bring a flashlight with you or ask your tour guide for one as Samye Monastery can be quite dark. Several dogs live in the monastery, but it’s needless to be afraid of them, they are friendly in nature and don’t bite.
Day 6: Lhasa Departure (B)
Today you will be free until you are escorted to the airport or the train station.
Tips: Please pack your luggage carefully, especially for things like tooth brush, camera, mobile phone, phone charger, towel, wallet. If your flight is arranged in the afternoon, please make sure you check out the hotel before 12pm.
Cost does not include:
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