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Asia » China » Tibet

Tibet is a beautiful East-Asia plateau region, in the homeland of People’s Republic of China, originally known as Tubo in medieval Chinese. Humans inhabited Tibet almost twenty one thousand years ago; therefore, the most medieval and the earliest forms of culture, which prevailed dominantly in ancient Tibet, have been identified as the Zhang Zhung Culture. Historically, Tibet has seen the rise and fall of several ancient Chinese dynasties and empires, thus, Tibet is colored with the influence of several casts and creeds, leaving footprints in their wake. Geographically, Tibet enjoys the existence of some of the tallest, most imposing mountainous series in the world. Some of the most awe-inspiring mountains in Tibet include the Mount Everest, which soars up to an impressive height of over 8000 ft. making it the tallest mountain in the entire world, lying along the border of Nepal. If you are visiting Tibet in October you must also visit Nepal as the weather and sights are absolutely wonderful in Autumn there.

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The Water Tower of Asia

Some of the major rivers in Tibet include the Yellow River, Salween, Yangtze, Ganges, Indus River and Brahmaputra River, both originating from Mount Kailash. Owing to the dizzying number of rivers in Tibet, it is known as, quite literally, the Water Tower of Asia.

Tourist Attractions of Tibet

Lhasa, Cultural Capital

Lhasa, the traditional capital city of Tibet, is the undisputable cultural and economic hub of Tibet. It is famous for its strong affiliation with the legendary Dalai Lama; associated with such strong patronage comes fervent pilgrimage. Some of the noteworthy spots in Lhasa include the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastries and Norbulinka Palace.

Tibet: The Mystical Escape

The tourism experience in Tibet is drastically different from the rest of the world. Street shops offer emblems of religious significance, prayer flags, robes, and prayer beads. Tibet offers a serene experience punctuated with natural wonders and an air of pristine stillness, which seems to reverberate through the soul. The timelessness and the everlasting beauty of Tibet is what makes it so unique and palatable. If you experience Tibet once, you are bound to crave it.

The Potala Palace

Constructed in the 17th century, the Potala stretches across the Lhasa skyline. Potala has served to be the Dalai Lama’s abode for centuries. Within the Potala, several revered objects of great cultural, religious and art objects are exhibited and secured within the confines of the palace. Several sections of the palace have been therefore reserved as museums for public exhibitions.

Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is another famous landmark of Tibet, marking the significance of spirituality and devoutness of the region.  It is a Buddhist temple built by King Shrong Tsong Gompo.

Lake Namtso

Lake Namtso, accredited with being the highest saltwater lake in the entire world, is another fascinating feature of beautiful Tibet.  It is an extremely popular tourist spot; the clear cerulean blue water of the lake, with the glittering gold of the sunshine glinting off the surface of the azure water is a sight worth seeing. A dizzying mix of indigenous nomadic campsites surrounds the lake, giving the effect of a picturesque heavenly lake right out of a painting.

Mount Kailash, the Scared Mountain

Mount Kailash, the Sacred Mountain, the symbol of sacred sanctity to millions of Hindus and Buddhists, situated in Tibet, poses as another very popular tourist destination.  It is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, according to Hindus and, thus, it is the most sanctified of all sacred places.

The Lake Manasarovar, the Holy Lake

The Lake Manasarovar, the Holy Lake, situated near Mount Kailash, is a freshwater lake. It is a vital pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. The legend entails that by bathing in the holy water of Manasarovar, the sinners are able to wash their sins away.

Several tourists looking for a spiritual escape come to Tibet and feel astounded by the sheer beauty of the soaring mountains, and the abundance of the freshwater and the saltwater lakes, flowing through the region. The air is tinged with an indistinct yet definite balm of serenity and spirituality, which has the power to still the most troubled souls.

Other noteworthy tourist attractions of Tibet include the Nagari Region, Nakchu Region, Chambaling Monastery, Chamdo Region, Gyantse, Sera Monastery, and the Drepung Monastery.

Tibetan Culture, Language, and Art

If anything, Tibet is known for its unique and distinct cultural values, festivals and norms. It is important to understand the reason behind this particular cultural diversity. It originates from the myriad of religious and ethnic blends, which range from Nepal, India, and China.

The common language spoken in Tibet varies quite drastically from Chinese, as opposed to common belief. Buddhist missionaries whose art reforms depicted Indian and Chinese influences have influenced a vast majority of Tibetan art. Tibetan art usually depicts religious themes: scroll paintings, Kashmiri paintings and miniatures.

Tibetan Cuisine

The Tibetan cuisine comprises of a limited number of fruits and vegetables, as Tibet’s climate and altitude only allows for a short growing period. Some regions, which are low, are abundant in the growth of fruits such as oranges, bananas, lemons and crops like rice. The staple food of Tibet is tsampa, roasted barley. Barley is grown excessively all over Tibet and is the most vital crop of the region.

Festivals in Tibet

March 3rd, Tibetan New Year. All Tibetans venture out on the streets, dressed in their best outfits. The event entails good food and great music. The Tibetans greet each other and the air is infused with the cheer and the festivity of the eager Tibetans celebrating the beginning of a new glorious year.

June 14th, Saga Dawa

According to Tibetan belief, gods descend from the skies and shower their blessings on Tibet and its people. Therefore, Tibetans celebrate through the medium of celebratory, jovial dances and prayers.

Horse Racing, Gyantse

Archery and horseracing are two popular sports in Tibet. The month of July, particularly the last two weeks, are the busiest weeks of Tibet as the entire region enjoys the horse racing festival, along with archery and shooting. This festival dates back to centuries and is revered to date, celebrated with folk songs, dances, grand meals, betting games and days of entertainment-packed sporting events.

Other Festivals of Tibet

Other festivals famous in Tibet include the Ganden Festival, special exhibition of rare articles and the Harvest Festival, a time for the farmers to revel in the joy of their copious harvest season.

Social Norms of Tibetans

A Tibetan is known by his first name, not the last name and/or the family name. The names of the Tibetans are generally indicative of the gender; therefore, you have to be locally aware of the names to immediately identify the names and their gender implications. Most of the names are derived from Buddhist scripture and are common.

Tibetan Clothing

Tibetans have an affinity for ornaments; this is common for both men and women. Men wear unique Tibetan headgear. Women, on the other hand, twist their hair into two braids, which are bejeweled with adornments.

Men and women in Tibet wear loose robes, embroidered with local Tibetan patterns. Both men and women wear felt hats or felt-lined hats. Brightly colored boots, often made of sheepskin or goatskin, are worn, adorned by bright-hued embroidery and embellishment. Women especially adorn themselves with an assortment of local jewellery, ranging from forehead bejeweled bands and earrings.

The Tibetan Women

Tibetan women, known for their beautiful distinct oblique eyes, small pert noses and dark hair with smooth, olive complexions are rare beauties. Tibetan women have a unique bone structure, which varies from narrow, sculpted faces to broad, round faces. Tibetan women are especially famous for their doll-like smiles and picture-perfect skin. Their flawless skin and hair, akin to the flawless beauty of pearls and glazed gems is without parallel in the entire world. Tibetan women are often tall and lithe, owing to their exquisite bone structure.

Tibetan women, adorned with their local headgears, jewelry and festive costumes, look even more peculiarly beautiful, juxtaposed against the barren mountainous regions of gorgeous Tibet.

Marriage in Tibetan Culture

Communication between men and women is not generally frowned upon, however, the bonds of marriage stress upon monogamy. With the modern times, Tibetan women are also evolving. They are educated, confident women who have a strong grasp on their rights. Tibetan women are now moving along at the same pace as men.

Polyandry, a woman having several husbands, is common in small sects of Tibet. This is often carried out in the form of fraternal polyandry, husbands who are often brothers.

Overall, Tibet is an excellent holiday dream spot; the scenic beauty is boundless, the inhabitants are increasingly social, if a little shy at first. If you are fortunate enough to visit Tibet during the fascinating festival time of the year, you will be swept off your feet by the sheer beauty of the place, the exquisiteness of the Tibetans and the power of the spiritual, flowing lakes and the soaring, snow-capped peaks and the jovial festivals the region.