Ancient City of Jiaohe, an Urban Relic with a History of More Than 2000 Years

The ancient city was the capital of the former Cheshi State. An Indian proverb says, ‘Intelligence is bound to exist where two rivers meet’. Jiaohe, meaning in Chinese where two rivers meet, is such a place. According to historical records it was home to 700 households, 6500 residents plus 865 soldiers.

Jiaohe distinguishes itself from other ancient cities owing to three features. First, it had only two city gates, the South and East Gates. The main South Gate vanished long ago, leaving a huge breach. The East Gate cut by the cliff was virtually non-existent. Second, the city faces cliffs on three sides, so there are no city walls commonly seen in other ancient cities. Third, all the buildings were dug from earth, and wood was rarely used.

The central avenue, 350-meters (1148.3-feet) long, runs north from South Gate, separating the city into three parts; namely, residences for common people, temples, and residences for aristocrats.To the west of the avenue, low buildings with sparse small temples were residences for commoners, while the high ones in the east were for aristocrats and troops. At the end of the avenue stands a large well-preserved Buddhist temple, Jiaohe Temple, with an area of 5,000 square meters (53,824 square feet).

The relics we see today featured Tang Dynasty ( 618-907) architectural style. Houses were dug downward from the earth, and as no house gates faced the streets, military defense was apparently priority.

At the end of the 8 Century, the city was tossed into the reigns of the Turpan, Hui, and Mongols. Residents fled from the destroyed city continuously until in the beginning of the 14 Century, the city was abandoned, as was its glory and prosperity of over 2000 years. Miraculously, owing to the arid climate and remote location, the ancient city of Jiaohe remains intact, leaving us a rare exemplar of an earthen castle.

Tibetan Festivals, Tibetan New Year, Great Prayer Festival Monlam

Join one festive event during your visit in Tibet and it will surely add more to your memory of the snowland.
Tibetan New Year is the most important festival there. It is an occasion when Tibetan families reunite and expect that the coming year will be a better one. Known as Losar, it starts from the first to the third day of the first Tibetan month. Preparations for the happy event are manifested by special offerings to family shrine deities, painted doors with religious symbols, and other painstaking jobs done to prepare for the event. People eat Guthuk (barley crumb food with filling) on New Year’s Eve with their families. Eating Guthuk is fun since the barley crumbs are stuffed with a different filling to fool someone in the family. The Festival of Banishing Evil Sprits is observed after dinner. Signs that the New Year is approaching when one sees lit torches, and people running and yelling to get rid of evil spirits from their houses. Before dawn on New Year’s Day, housewives get their first buckets of water for their homes and prepare breakfast.

After breakfast, people dress up to go to monasteries and offer their prayers. People visit their neighborhoods and exchange their Tashi Delek blessings in the first two days. Feast is the theme during the occasion. On the third day, old prayer flags are replaced with new ones. Other folk activities may be held in some areas to celebrate the events.

Religious dance in Great Prayer Festival Monlam, the Great Prayer Festival, falls on the fourth up to the eleventh day of the first Tibetan month. The event was established in 1049 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama’s order. It is the grandest religious event in that area. Religious dances are performed and thousands of monks gather for chanting before the Jokhang Temple. Examinations taking form of sutra debates for the Geshe degree, the highest degree in Buddhist theology, are also held. Pilgrims crowd to listen to the sermons while others give religious donations.

The Butter Lamp Festival, Chunga Choepa in local language, falls on the fifteenth day of the first Tibetan month. The event was also established by Tsong Khapa to celebrate the victory of Sakyamuni against heretics in a religious debate. Giant butter and Tsampa sculptures varying in forms of auspicious symbols and figures are displayed on Barkhor. People keep singing and dancing throughout the night.
Butter Lamp Festival On the fifteenth day of the fourth Tibetan month is Saka Dawa. The day is believed to be the time when Sakyamuni was born; stepped into Buddhahood, and attained nirvana. The locals believe that a merit is an accumulation of a myriad of merits from previous days, months or years. People refrain from killing animals by liberating them and abstain from eating meats. Sutra chanting, prayer turning, Cham dancing and other religious activities dominate the occasion. Offering sacrifices to the female deity enshrined in the temple on the islet of the Dragon King Pond, boating in the pond and picnicking add more to the festive mood.

Pagsum Lake, the ‘Jiuzhaigou’ of Tibet

Pagsum lake, which means “Green Water” in Tibetan, is about 18 kilometers long and covers an area of about 27 square kilometers. The deepest lake reaches 120 meters and the lake is 3,480 meters above sea level. It is a famous sacred lake and holy place of the Red religion.

Tibet is a dynamic land of vitality and natural beauty. Nyingchi, a city located in the lower reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River, is a renowned scenic city, while Pagsum Lake in this region is even reputed as the ‘Jiuzhaigou’ of Tibet for its beautiful scenery.

Pagsum Lake lies in a deep valley at an altitude of 3,538 metes (11,607 feet). It is 15 kilometers (9 miles) long, and 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) wide on average. The deepest parts of the lake reach 166 meters (545 feet). It is a crescent covering 27 sq kilometers (10 squire miles), surrounded by mountain ranges and lush trees, like an emerald embedded in a valley.

In Tibetan language, Baksum means ‘green water’. The water is green because it is so pure and clean that the surrounding green trees are reflected in its surface. The water is so crystal-clear that fish can be seen even deep below the surface. Sand gulls and white cranes leisurely fly over the lake surface. Around Pagsum lake, there are both snow-capped mountains and mountains dotted with evergreen trees. In spring, vigorously blooming flowers are mirrored in the lake surface, forming a splendid picture. When autumn comes, flaming maples leaves light the whole mountain and reflect on the water, making it a sea of red color.

Pagsum Lake is also a religious resort. It is regarded as the holy lake of Lima sect by the local Tibetan people. On the island in the center, the temple built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) is the most famous temple of Lima school. Every year thousands of believers flock here to worship. It’s interesting to take a ferry across Pagsum Lake to the island. As you linger on the island, the sound of monks chanting makes you feel far away from the world.

In addition, the original culture and unique customs also enhance the charm of the scenic spot. Tibetans living in Gongbu County retain their unique architecture, festivals, costumes and languages. The simple and hospitable villagers are ready to show their hospitality and smiling faces to the tourists.

The snow capped mountains, crystal clear rivers and dense vegetation add a lot of charm to this mysterious land. Immersed in such beautiful scenery, you will feel like living in a fairyland.

 

Tashilhunpo Monastery, 0ne of the Six Big Monasteries of Gelugpa

Tashilhunpo Monastery covers an area of 150000 square meters, surrounded by walls, winding along the mountain, with a perimeter of more than 3000 meters. There are 57 Scripture halls and 3600 houses in the temple. The whole temple is built according to the mountain slope, with mountains on its back. The north of the temple faces the sun. The temples are connected in turn, dense and balanced, harmonious and symmetrical.

Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the Six Big Monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat Sect) in Tibet. Also called the Heap of Glory, it is located at the foot of Drolmari (Tara’s Mountain), Shigatse. Tashilhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lama since the Fourth Panchen Lama took charge in Tashilhunpo Monastery, and there are now nearly 800 lamas.

Standing at the entrance of Tashelumbo, visitors can see the magnificent buildings with golden roofs and white walls. The famous nine story Thangka wall was built by the first Dalai Lama in 1468. This wall shows the Buddha statues on the 14th, 15th and 16th of may in the lunar calendar. These images are so huge that people can easily see them in Shigatse.

The Stupa Tomb of the 10th Panchen Lama is located to the east of the church. The Stupa tomb built in 1993 is composed of 614 kg (1354 lb) gold, 868 gemstones and 246794 gemstones. It is the most gorgeous and expensive tomb in China since the 1950s. The Panchen palace, which stands next to the stupa tomb, is a magnificent white palace, mainly built during the reign of Panchen VI (1738-1780). It remains closed to tourists and local tourists. To the east of Panchen palace is the pagoda Tomb of Panchen IV, one of the most famous lamas in Tibetan history. He is also a teacher of the fifth Dalai Lama. His magnificent pagoda tomb decorated with gold and silver was built in 1662. The fourth Panchen pagoda tomb is the first pagoda tomb in Tashlungpo.

The Buddha Hall is built of stone, with dense joints and solemn solemnity. The whole Buddha Hall is divided into four steps, which are folded and raised in layers. There is a grand master at the top corner of each floor. The upper eaves of the hall are decorated with bronze bells, and the hall is decorated with bronze pillars and golden roofs, with magnificent momentum. In front of the Qiangba Buddha Hall, the prayer flags stand high and point to the sky.

 

Namtso Lake, the Heavenly Lake in Tibet

Namtso Lake, located in the middle of Tibet autonomous region, is the second largest lake in Tibet and the third largest saltwater lake in China. The lake is 4718 meters above sea level and covers an area of about 1920km. Its purity and solemnness are symbols of Tibet. In Tibetan, Namtso means ‘Heavenly Lake.’ It is considered one of the three holy lakes in Tibet and famous for its high altitude of 4,720 meters (about 3 miles), vast area of 1,961 square kilometers (about 757 square miles) and beautiful scenery.

 

 

Namtso Lake maintains its levels from rainfall and melted snow flowing from high mountains. Five islands stand in the water area, among which the largest one is  Liangduo island. In addition another five bylands stretch into the water from different directions. Zhaxi byland is the largest in area of these five. A great many bizarre stone peaks can be found on this byland. Some of them are like trunks; some look like human beings; some resemble trees. Various kinds of vivid shapes can easily arouse your imagination. At the same time there are many quiet grottos which are masterpieces of nature.

Some grottos are narrow and long like subways; some are full of stalactites; still, others are like louvers. Queer rocks, steep peaks, natural stone ladders and other landform wonders on Zhaxi byland present visitors a picture filled with mystery and enchantment.

Being the second largest saltwater lake in China only after Qinghai Lake, Namtso is the biggest lake throughout Tibet. Meanwhile, it is the highest altitude saltwater lake in the world. The water here is a storybook crystal-clear blue. Clear skies join its surface in the distance, creating an integrated, scenic vista. Soul of every visitor who has ever been here seems to be cleansed by the pure water.

Summer is the best time to visit here. Wild yaks, rabbits and other wild animals are leisurely foraging on the vast coast; countless migratory birds fly here to lay eggs and feed young birds; sometimes lovely fish jump out of the water and enjoy the warmth of the sun; flocks of cattle and sheep, like the boundless white flowing on the green grassland, are endless; the sweet songs of Gaoqiao echo the valley. At this time of year, Namtso Lake is full of vitality. Therefore, it is no wonder that Tibetans regard it as a symbol of beauty and happiness. The real paradise lake is the blessing of nature.

 

 

Yarlung Tsangpo River, the Highest Rivers in the World

The Yarlung Tsangpo River is the longest plateau River in China, located in Tibet Autonomous Region, and one of the highest rivers in the world. In Chinese, Yarlung Tsangpo River means water flowing down from the crest. Found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, known as ‘the roof of the world’, this is the biggest river in Tibet and also holds the position as being the river found at the highest altitude across the world.

Yarlung Tsangpo River Valley is rich in forest resources, owning 2,644 thousand hectares’ of virgin forest. Rare and unique plants and animals along with a natural treasure house of wildlife such as yew and Zoraptera insects can be found here. From the Pottery shard and stone objects of the Neolithic Period discovered in Nyingchi County, the ancient culture of Yarlung Tsangpo River can be traced back thousands of years. To some extent, it is the cradle of Tibetan civilization.

The Great Canyon of Yarlung Tsangpo River is absolutely a highlight. It is the largest and deepest canyon in the world, being 504.6 kilometers (314 miles) long and 6,009 meters (19,715 feet) deep at its deepest. The average depth is 2,268 meters (7,441 feet). Nine Natural Vertical Zones ranging from the Alp Ice-snow belt to tropical seasonal forests are represented in this area. All kinds of wildlife exist here, so the Great Canyon is regarded as ‘the Gene Pool of Biological Resources’, whilst enjoying fame as a ‘Geological Museum’ due to the various geological phenomena found.

The Yarlung Tsangpo River not only ranks first in the world in terms of its depth and width, but also attracts the attention of world scientists for its rich scientific connotation and precious resources. The Yarlung Tsangpo River Grand Canyon is the world’s first Grand Canyon, and has been certified as the world’s deepest Grand Canyon and the world’s longest canyon by the China World Records Association. The Yarlung Tsangpo River Basin is rich and beautiful. It nurtures the fertile land on both sides of the river. It is the cradle of Tibetan people’s culture. As a “Tianhe”, the Yarlung Zangbo River brings the Tibetan people not only the past, but also a brilliant future.

Jokhang Temple, the Holy Land of Tibetans

The reason why Lhasa has the reputation of “holy land” is related to the Jokhang Temp. Jokhang Temple has a history of more than 1300 years, and has the supreme status in Tibetan Buddhism. Dazhao temple is the most splendid building in the Tibetan period, and also the earliest wooden structure in Tibet.

The Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), was characterized by economic prosperity and great progress in politics. During this time, China was considered the cultural and political center of the world. King Songtsem Gampo (617 – 650, the 33rd king of Tibet) was the leader of the Tubo (or Tibetan) Kingdom. He actively promoted Buddhism in that region and under his reign, Tibet achieved great progress in social innovation and realized the integration for the first time. In order to promote friendly relationships with the neighboring countries, he successively married Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty. When the two wives arrived there, each brought a statue of Jowo Sakyamuni. During this time, most people lived in tents and there were few palaces. To house the Buddha brought by Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsem Gampo constructed the Little Jokhang. Jealous of her, Princess Burikuti asked Gampo to build a Jokhang for her as well. Therefore, in 647 the giant complex was built.

The Jokhang Temple was built on the former site of a lake. According to the legend, the lake site was chosen after many failed attempts to build a temple in the region. Prior to this, every time a monastery was built, it would collapse. Confused by this phenomenon, Princess Bhrikuti turned to Wen Cheng for help. Being a learned woman, Wen Cheng told the Princess that the geography of Tibet was very much like a hag, with the lake at the heart. In order to build the monastery, Wen Cheng advised they must demolish the hag by filling and leveling the lake using 1,000 goats to carry soil from a mountain far away. When the construction work was done, it was called Ra-Sa-Vphrul-Snang (‘ra’ meaning goat and ‘sa’ meaning earth in Tibetan) to commemorate those goats.

Whether the legend is true or not, the Jokhang Temple brought Buddhism into this land and became an inseparable part of Tibetan history and culture. The city of Ra-Sa grew around the temple and over time, become known as Lhasa, a holy land.

Jokhang Temple integrates the architectural styles of Tibet, Tang Dynasty, Nepal and India, and becomes the eternal model of Tibetan religious architecture. The temple is surrounded by incense all day long. The faithful worship left deep marks on the bluestone floor in front of the gate.

Sera Monastery, One of Three Famous Monasteries in Lhasa

Located at the foot of Tatipu Hill in the northern suburb of Lhasa City, Sera Monastery  is one of three famous monasteries in the city along with the Drepung Monastery and the Ganden Monastery. There are tens of thousands of Vajra and Buddha statues in sera temple, mostly made in Tibet. There are also many bronze Buddhas brought from the mainland or India. A large number of original color murals are preserved on the four walls of the main hall and the zacang scripture hall. The most famous statue is the “horse headed King Ming” in the hall. The monastery is magnificent and covers an area of 114,946 square meters. Its main buildings are the Coqen Hall, Zhacang and Kamcun. Scriptures written in gold powder, fine statues, scent cloth and unparalleled murals can be found in these halls. Colorful debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here and these employ a style distinctive from those at Lhasa’s other famous monasteries.

The Coqen Hall, which was built in 1710, is a four-storey building in the northeast area of the monastery. This main assembly hall where various rituals are held is supported by 125 pillars of varying heights and covers about 2,000 square meters (0.5 acre). It consists of five chapels which give honor to the Maitreya, Sakyamuni, Arhats, Tsong Khapa, and Kwan-yin with one thousand hands and eleven faces. The delicate Gangyur of Tripitaka in Tibetan is the proudest possession of the monastery which now holds 105 out of the original 108 volumes. These priceless volumes, the earliest sutras printed by engraving in China, were presented as a gift to Jamchen Chojey by Chengzhu, a Ming Dynasty Emperor.

Zhacang, which means Buddhist College in Tibetan, acts as the arena for the monks to study the Buddhist Classics. There are three Zhacangs in the monastery: Me Zhacang, Je Zhacang and Ngaba Zhacang. The oldest of these, the Me Zhacang, was built in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty and features a well-preserved fresco. In the Je Zhacang the Hayagriva displayed is extremely famous throughout Tibet. The Ngaba Zhacang is the smallest and newest arena where one of its founders, Jamchen Chojey, is worshipped.

The early buildings are centered on mazacang and abazacang, and then have the scale of today after the renovation and expansion of previous dynasties, so there is no overall plan in the plane layout. However, the buildings of sera temple are dense but not crowded, miscellaneous but not disordered. They are adapted to local conditions and the main body is prominent, which reflects the unique style of the Gelug temple. It is a religious city.

Mount Everest, the Highest Peak in the World

Everest is the main peak of the Himalayas and the highest mountain in the world. It is located on the border between China and Nepal and is the highest peak in the world.

Mt. Everest is a giant pyramid, majestic and towering, with extremely steep terrain and complex environment. The Himalayan area where Everest is located was originally an ocean. In the long geological time, a large amount of gravel and sediment were washed from the land and accumulated in the Himalayan area, forming a marine sedimentary rock layer with a thickness of more than 30000 meters. Later, because of the strong orogeny, the Himalayas region was squeezed and uplifted violently. It is estimated that the average increase is about 20-30 meters every 10000 years. Up to now, the Himalayas is still in the process of rising, rising by 7 cm every 100 years.

Its Tibetan meaning of ‘Goddess the Third’ adds more mysterious color and magic power to the subject. As a result, it has intrigued all kinds of people since it was first discovered. Pilgrims trek long distances to present a pious worship, climbing enthusiasts run great risks to challenge its high altitude and the common visitors also yearn for a reverent look at this holy peak.

As the supreme point of the world, Mt. Qomolangma is also blessed with many extreme wonders. The top part of the mountain is covered with snow all the year round. When the glaring sun shines on the mountain, the peak is just like a white pyramid miraculously transformed by the Goddess, leading us to imagine her semblance further. More often than not, the thick freely moving clouds and fogs, seeming as if a flag with the mast of the peak was swinging, will shroud the peak. This peculiar phenomenon is known as ‘Flag Cloud’. An additional wonder generated here are the bright glaciers, where ices are formed into various shapes like bridges, pagodas and others. You can also find miles of efflorescent rock physiognomy there, such as stalagmites, stelae, stone sword, and stone pagodas. The climbing pathfinders call this splendor at such high attitude ‘the Largest Park on the High Mountain’.

Tientsin Eye, the No. 1 Ferris Wheel in Asia

Tientsin Eye, also known as the Tianjin Eye, is a Ferris wheel as tall as 120 meters. Tianjin Eye is also the No. 1 Ferris wheel in Asia, the only Ferris wheel built above a bridge and the tenth tallest Ferris wheel in the world. You can ride Tianjin Eye to enjoy the scenery of Tianjin or appreciate Tianjin Eye from afar on Jingang Bridge which is also enjoyable.

Tianjin eye is a national 4A level scenic spot in Hebei District of Tianjin (funded by the government of Hebei District of Tianjin). It is the first Ferris wheel in Asia. It is a Ferris wheel with river crossing construction and bridge wheel integration. It has both sightseeing and transportation functions.

Except for riding Ferris wheel, looking at Tianjin Eye from afar and taking photos are also good choices. This Ferris wheel is like an eye when looking from afar and this is how Tianjin Eye is named. The best place for that is Jingang Bridge, about 800 meters (900 yards) south of Tientsin Eye. When standing on the bridge, Tianjin Eye surrounded by beautiful buildings on the bank of Hai River appears before your eyes. It’s best to come at night when Tianjin Eye and Hai River interact with each other under the illumination of lights and you can see a totally different Tianjin here.

The ferris wheel is equipped with 48 transparent cockpits, each of which can hold 8 people. There are air conditioners and fans in the cabin to adjust the temperature, which can be used for 384 people to visit at the same time. The time when the ferris wheel rotates for one circle will be affected by the number of passengers and the weather change, and it will be kept between 20 and 40 minutes. Each cabin of the ferris wheel of Yongle bridge in Tianjin covers an area of about 12 square meters, which can be used by 8 people at the same time. It is understood that 48 cockpits will rotate at a constant speed driven by electric power, and it will take about 30 minutes to rotate a circle. It can be used for 300-400 people to visit at the same time. The diameter of the ferris wheel is 110 meters, so the technical content of its rotating shaft is very high. The rotating shaft of Tianjin eye is made in Germany. The ferris wheel has passed the strength tests of compression resistance, seepage resistance, bending resistance and frost resistance.