The true heartland of the Vajrayana Dharma, Central Tibet is home to many of the nation’s most instantly recognizable landmarks. Closed to outsiders for centuries, the land of lamas, and specifically the “forbidden city” of Lhasa, beckoned to the adventurous spirit enthralled by the mysteries that lay hidden behind the majestic ramparts of the Himalayas. Fortunately for the modern explorer, our appetite to visit this magical land can now be sated with relative comfort and ease.
Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, is dominated by the instantly recognizable Potala Palace, home of the Dalai Lamas, its regal red and white façade towering over the Kyi-chu Valley. Glittering in the shadow of the Potala are the golden gables of the Jokhang, Tibet’s holiest temple. Lhasa and its environs are also home to the country’s most important and impressive monasteries. Three of these great institutions - Drepung, Sera, and Ganden - are nearby.
Shigatse and Gyantse complete the triumvirate of major Tibetan cities and play host to several important historical sites in their own right. Shigatse is home to the great monastery of Tashilhunpo, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas. Standing sentinel over the fertile plains surrounding the city of Gyantse is the mighty Gyantse Dzong, offering an unforgettable panoramic view of one of Tibet’s most indelible sites, the amazing chörten of the Kumbum, arguably the most sublime example of Tibetan Buddhist architecture.
You can also revel in the rugged, yet exquisitely beautiful countryside of Central Tibet. The sparkling, sacred lakes of Nam-tso and Yamdrok-tso are well worth a visit. Both Yamdrok and Nam-tso are major pilgrimage sites, with kora paths ringing the shores of both holy lakes. As the sun’s rays penetrate the clear waters of these sacred lakes, you will be mesmerized and captivated by their incredible beauty.
Explore Central Tibet on these itineraries or call to plan your
Roof detail, Potala Palace
Farming on the plateau
Kumbum Stupa, Gyantse