A vast plateau bounded by the world’s highest mountain ranges, Tibet feels quite unlike anywhere else on the planet. Echoing the rise and fall of its ice-dusted skylines are whitewashed Buddhist monasteries, soaring above valley floors carpeted with barley fields, or overlooking turquoise lakes cradled by lunar-like steppes of barren slopes and ice peaks. In the west, vast grasslands and snow-deserts roll towards the borders of India and Nepal, dotted in summer with herds of yaks and nomad encampments, while to the east lie lush, pine-forested valleys where villages nestle beside rivers of crashing meltwater. Everywhere, strings of multi-coloured prayer flags flap cheerfully from wayside shrines and rooftops – evidence of a deep-rooted Buddhist culture that has proved astonishingly resilient to the changes Tibet has experienced over the past five decades.
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Places to visit in Tibet
The distinctive profile of Gyantse’s Kumbum is almost as recognizable as that of the Potala. Capped with a gilded dome and finial, the nine-storey chorten is a red-and-white wedding cake confection of 77 interlocking chapels, connected by ...
Lake Mansarovar & Mount Kailash
Covering an area twice the size of Germany, the west of Tibet is rugged, sparsely populated and breathtakingly beautiful. With a mean elevation of around 4,500m (14,763ft), it is also high and very dry, requiring several days of altitude a...
Dubbed the ‘Forbidden City’ during the 19th century, Lhasa has been the spiritual and political capital of Tibet since the Fifth Dalai Lama moved here in 1642. Protracted isolation from the rest of the world meant the arcane way of life le...
Namtso, “Heavenly Lake”, lies half a day’s drive north of Lhasa. Once you’ve set eyes on its crystalline, turquoise water, framed by a backdrop of rolling grasslands and snow-covered mountains, all travel fatigue is instantly banished. The...
The first Buddhist monastery ever founded in Tibet, Samye occupies a suitably epic spot on the north side of the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) Valley. Tapering golden finials crown the top of the complex, whose walls are painted a deep russet colo...
Shigatse, Tibet’s second city, is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the highest ranking lama after the Dalai Lama. Pilgrims pour through the town to worship at the stately Tashilunpo Monastery at its western end, which holds some o...
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