|Day 1||Arrival in Lhasa and transfer to Hotel Yak Deluxe (4 Nights)|
|Day 2||Visit Jokhang Temple and Ani Tsankhung Nunnery|
|Day 4||Visit Potala, Norbulinka and Sera Monastery|
|Day 5||Lhasa Free Day|
|Day 6||Day 1: Drive to Tsetang, visit monasteries on the way.|
|Day 7||Day 2: Visit Chongye valley (royal tombs), then Yumbu Lhakhang and Samye if haven’t visited.|
|Day 8||Departure transfer to the airport|
Royal Mountain Travel is a Nepal-based sustainable tourism operator. We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime experiences to showcase indigenous and community based tourism projects. We work with travel agents and tourism companies to help plan travel experiences that highlight authentic, local lifestyles throughout some of the most unique landscapes on earth.
Arrival in Lhasa and transfer to Hotel Yak Deluxe (4 Nights)
The flight to Lhasa is spectacular. From Gongkar airport it is about 1½ hours’ drive to Lhasa, first along the Yarlung Tsangpo then into the Kyi Chu Valley.
Visit Jokhang Temple and Ani Tsankhung Nunnery
The Jokhang Temple was founded in the 642 AD by Tibet’s first Buddhist king with the help of his Chinese and Nepali wives. Many Tibetans still use its original name, Tsuglagkhang, which means ‘House of Sciences’ (religious sciences like astrology, divination and geomancy). It is the center of the Tibetan mandala housing the oldest and most sacred Buddha statue, the Jowo. Although some parts of the temple has been rebuilt during the last centuries, original elements remain: the wooden beams and rafters have been shown by carbon dating to be original; the Newari door frames and columns date from the 7th and 8th centuries. From the rooftop you get a stunning view of the main square and the Potala. The temple is surrounded by the Barkhor, the “middle circle”, a traditional circumambulation path filled with traditional shops, old shrines, and Tibetan pilgrims walking around especially after sunrise and before sunset.
Ani Tsankhung Nunnery, In this nunnery of Lhasa more than one hundred Buddhist nuns live today. It was built on a site used for meditation by Tibet’s first Buddhist king, Songtsen Gampo. The nunnery was originally built in the 15th century and later enlarged in the 20th century. The nuns try to make a humble living by making handicrafts and printing religious texts in the old traditional fashion with wooden blocks. They also run an open air restaurant for pilgrims where you can try thugpa (noodle soup), momo (dumpling) and cha ngarmo (sweet tea) if you are adventurous enough.
Overnight at Yak Hotel
Visit Potala, Norbulinka and Sera Monastery
The Potala Palace, the seat of the Dalai Lamas for centuries is the most well-known landmark of Tibet. It is situated on the Marpori, the Red Hill, and after climbing its impressing stairway, you will see audience halls and living quarters of the Dalai Lamas, some exceptional relics, stupas, three dimensional mandalas, numberless beautiful statues, and even the meditation cave of Songtsen Gampo, the first Buddhist king of Tibet. As the Dalai Lamas are considered to be emanations of Chenrezi, the bodhisattva of compassion and protector of Tibet, their residence is called Potala, the heavenly abode of the bodhisattva of compassion. In its present form it was built by the great 5thDalai Lama, who was a famous polymath of the 17th century. The White Palace was built first in 1649 as a residence for the Dalai Lama and his government. The Red Palace was added for religious studies after the 5th Dalai Lama`s passed away, and his personal monastery, the Namgyal also moved there. In 1994 the Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Today the Potala is a museum.
When you visit, please, bring your passport and make sure that you don’t carry any water, cream, liquid, lipstick, matches, lighters, knife in your bag, when you enter. You can buy water and other drinks inside the palace.
Norbu Lingka: The Norbu Linka or Treasure Garden is the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas, a quiet and beautiful gardenin the western part of Lhasa. Its construction was started by the 7th Dalai Lama in 1755, and finished during the reign of the 13thand 14th Dalai Lamas in the 20th century. It is a huge well-kept garden, where you can walk around and enjoy the beauty of high altitude flora, and visit three palaces. The most interesting is the 14th Dalai Lama’s palace, where the murals of the audience hall depict events of Tibetan history, and his living quarters show his fascination with Western inventions. He escaped from this palace to India on March 10, 1959.
Sera Monastery is a famous monastic university of Tibet belonging to the Gelukpa school founded in the early 15thcentury, about 5 km away from the center of Lhasa. Among its many buildings it is worth to visit the impressive assembly hall where the monks do their daily rituals, and its Hayagriva shrine, as this Tantric deity is the remover of obstacles and its blessing heals headache and altitude sickness. Next to this building is a fenced debating courtyard, where every afternoon the monks test their knowledge of Buddhist philosophy in a spectacular way between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Overnight at Yak Hotel
Lhasa Free Day
With a relaxed pace to allow for the effects of altitude, explore this fantastic city on the roof of the world. The spiritual heart of Tibet is the Jokhang Temple and every morning is full of life as pilgrims bring offerings of butter and barley flour. The Potala Palace rises above the city and, more than any other sight, symbolizes the history and culture of Tibet. Nearby are the huge monastic universities of Drepung and Sera – still active institutions.
Day 1: Drive to Tsetang, visit monasteries on the way.
Day 2: Visit Chongye valley (royal tombs), then Yumbu Lhakhang and Samye if haven’t visited.
Chongye valley:Chongye Valley is also called the Valley of Kings. It branches off the Yarlung Valley to the southwest, and it contains eight large burial mounds. They look like round green hills from the outside, and it is not possible to enter them, however, the most important kings of the Yarlung dynasty are believed to be buried in them. It lies about 27 km from away from Tsetang, and the largest mound considered to be the burial place of the first Buddhist king, Songtsen Gampo, has a 13th century reconstructed temple on top. Climb the hill on a stairway and visit the temple for an ancient atmosphere and a stunning view of the Valley of Kings.
Yumbu Lhakhang:It is situated 9 km south of Tsetang. The beautiful citadel operating as a temple today is believed to be the palace of the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo, who descended from the sky. It was a royal palace right up to the 7th century, when Songtsen Gampo decided to move his capital to Lhasa. The walk up on the steep stairway is easier than it looks, but there are also horses for hire. From the Yumbu Lhakhang you get a fantastic view of the fertile Yarlung valley, the earliest cultivated area of Tibet.
Samye:Samye is the first monastery of Tibet built in 775 AD by King Trisong Detsen, who tried to revitalize Buddhism by inviting monks from India and supporting the translation of scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan. There are many Buddhist legends related to Samye. One says, that Shantarakshita, the Indian master of Buddhist philosophy asked the king to invite Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the Indian Tantric master to subjugate the indigenous deities and spirits of Tibet in order to allow the spread of Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche tamed the local deities and spirits, and forced them to take an oath to protect the Buddhist teaching. This is how the local deities became integrated into Tibetan Buddhism. The Samye Monastery was the place where in about 792 a debate was organized to decide if Tibet should follow the Chinese teachings of Buddhism (instant enlightenment) or the Indian tradition (gradual path). As the Indian master, Kamalashila won the debate, the Indian system of Buddhism spread in Tibet. Samye Monastery is laid out on the shape of a giant mandala, and its main temple, the Utse is symbolizing Mt. Meru, the central mountain of the Buddhist universe. From the top of the neighbouring Hepo Hill, you can get an almost aerial view of the mandala-shaped monastery.
Departure transfer to the airport
An early start for the return drive to Gongkar airport and flight back to Kathmandu