6 Days Biking in Lhasa
Day 1: Lhasa Arrival
Arriving at Lhasa airport, your guide will most likely to meet you in your rented vehicle, Check in hotel in old city near Jokhang Temple
Day 2: Start bike tour to Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.
The Potala Palace in Lhasa was the primary residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959.
Today the Potala Palace is a state museum, a popular tourist attraction, and a UNESCO world heritage site. It was also recently named one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" by the television shows Good Morning America and the newspaper USA Today.
This hilltop site above the city of Lhasa originally hosted the meditation retreat of King Songtsen Gampo, who built the first palace there in 637 in order to greet his bride Princess Wencheng of China.Construction of the present palace began in 1645 under the fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, an important figure in Tibetan history. Known as the "Great Fifth," he unified Tibet and made the Yellow Hat sect the state religion. The White Palace was completed in 1648, after which it was used as winter quarters by the Dalai Lama.
Construction on the Red Palace was still underway when the Great Fifth died in 1682. Fearing the project would be abandoned, the monks kept his death a secret for 10 years until the Red Palace was completed. In the meantime, the Dalai Lama was impersonated by a monk who looked most like him.
WHAT TO SEE
Built on a rocky hill overlooking the city of Lhasa, the Potala Palace has a sturdy fortress-like appearance. It contains more than a thousand rooms spreading over an area of 1,300 feet by 1,000 feet. The stone walls are 16 feet thick at the base, but more finely constructed (without the use of nails) in the upper stories. The palace is fronted by a great plaza at the south base of the rock, enclosed by walls and gates. A series of fairly easy staircases, broken by intervals of gentle ascent, leads to the summit of the rock. It is important to become acclimated to the high altitude of Lhasa before making the climb. The Potala Palace is made of two main parts, easily distinguished by their color: the Red Palace and White Palace. The two are joined by a smaller, yellow-painted structure that houses the sacred banners hung on the exterior for the New Year festivals. The rooms inside the palace are identified by numbers as well as names.
The heart of the complex is the Red Palace (Potrang Marpo), painted a deep red and used primarily for religious purposes. Richly decorated with painting, jeweled work, carving and other ornament, it contains several shrines and the tombs of eight past Dalai Lamas. Before the tombs are precious votive offerings, including a pagoda made of 200,000 pearls. Especially celebrated throughout the Red Palace is the fifth Dalai Lama, whose life story is depicted in murals. His mummified body rests inside a 50-foot stupa covered with four tons of gold and encrusted with semi-precious stones. In another chapel he is shown enthroned as an equal to the Buddha. Also impressive is the golden tomb-stupa of the last Dalai Lama (d.1933),
The Red Palace also houses the monks' assembly hall, numerous chapels and shrines (dedicated to the full extent of Tibet's pantheon of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, saints and demons) and libraries of important Tibetan Buddhist scriptures (the Kangyur in 108 volumes and the Tengyur in 225, all hand-painted from carved wooden blocks).
Surrounding the Red Palace is the secular White Palace (Potrang Karpo), the former home of the Dalai Lama and his monks. Originally built in the 1650s, it was extended to its present size by the 13th Dalai Lama in the early 1900s. The most important shrine in the Potala is the Saint's Chapel in the White Palace, which contains a revered statue of Chenrezi, bodhisattva of compassion. Below the Saint's Chapel is the Dharma Cave, where King Songtsen Gampo studied the Buddhist scriptures after his conversion in the 7th century. These rooms are the oldest part of the Potala Palace. Jokhang Temple ("House of the Lord") in Lhasa is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism, attracting crowds of prostrating Tibetan pilgrims and curious foreign tourists every year. It hosts the annual Great Prayer Festival, as well as all ceremonies of initiation for the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lamas.
Jokhang Temple was founded in 647 by King Songtsen Gampo (r.617-49), the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two foreign wives who are credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The king's first wife, Princess Bhrikuti (married in the 630s), was the sister of the Nepalese king, while his second wife, Princess Wencheng (married 641), was the niece or daughter of the Chinese emperor. The temple was constructed to house a sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche, which Queen Wengcheng brought with her from China as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet
WHAT TO SEE Tourists can only tour Jokhang Temple in the afternoon; the morning is reserved for pilgrims. The best way to experience the temple is to arrive at 8am to watch the pilgrims perform their devotions, then visit the interior in the afternoon.
PILGRIMAGE Jokhang Temple is a very important pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. Pilgrims come from all corners of Tibet, usually on foot and often performing austerities for penance along the way. The most devout pilgrims cover the last several miles prostrate on the ground. More prostrations are undertaken in the plaza in front of the temple. Before entering, most pilgrims circumambulate the temple on the Barkhor, a sacred path that is also lined with market stalls selling yak butter and jewelry. Inside the temple, pilgrims make their way gradually to the central shrine, often crawling on their hands and knees or prostrate on their bellies. They hum prayers while also spinning prayer wheels, and bring offerings (typically white scarves and yak butter for the votive candles) to the many chapels that ring the shrine. Finally, they pray before the sacred image of the Jowo Shakyamuni.
Day 3:Bike tour to Drepung and Sera monastery
Drepung monastery was founded in 1416, on the outskirts of Lhasa was once Tibet's largest and most influential monastery, with over 10,000 monks.
Today, Drepung houses about 700 monks and attracts pilgrims and visitors from around the world. Drepung is especially known as the site of the annual Shoton Festival, with its dramatic unfurling of a giant thangka painting on the hillside.
Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Tsongkapa's disciple Jamyang Choeje. It was the home of the Dalai Lamas before the Potala palace was built in the 17th century. Resembling a heap of white rice from a distance, it was dubbed "Monastery of the Collecting-Rice" in Tibetan.
WHAT TO SEE
The first floor of the Assembly Hall holds a striking statue of Dalai Lama XIII, magnificently lit by filtered sunshine and pungent yak butter lamps. Readings of the scriptures are often held here at midday, during which novices race one another to fetch tea from the kitchen for their elders. To the left (west) of the Assembly Hall is the kitchen, where butter tea is prepared and donations are accepted. The most revered image at Drepung is a 15m (49-ft.) tall statue of the 8-year old Maitreya Buddha (the future Buddha), designed by Tsongkapa and housed on the third floor of the main building. Visitors are offered holy water; to receive it, cup your right hand above your left, take a sip, and splash the rest on your head.
The second floor houses Buddhist scriptures and the first floor contains multiple Buddha statues and other decorations. A chapel to the north of the second floor houses a sacred mirror said to cure the facial diseases of those who gaze into it. Several courtyards in the forest around the monastery are used by the monks for debating the sutras (Buddhist scriptures). The winners of the debates can take a test to earn the senior degree of Geshi.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
This is the origin of the "Xuedun" or Shoton Festival at Drepung, which takes place every August. Today, the Shoton Festival is a time for monks to go the mountains for contemplation, after which time their families will meet them on the mountainside. Many lay Buddhists make a pilgrimage to Drepung during this time and participate in the festivities, which include performances by the Tibetan Opera. Sera is one of the great Gelugpa school of learning centre and famouse debate session of monks on Buddhist sciences of philosophy ,metaphysics , psychology and epistemology . The history of Sera monastery is strongly connected to master lama Tsongkhapa (1357-1419),
The founder of Gelug order, the much venerated and highly learned guru in Buddhist sacred scriptures . It was under his divine tutelage that his disciple Jetsun kunchen lodroe Richen Senge established the Sera monastery complex in early 15th century AD.
Day 4: Bike tour to Ganden monastery is a distance of 70 km from Lhasa. Over a night stay in a tent near monastery and make circumambulate around the monastery Your tent is your portable home from home whether you are on a campsite or a remote windswept mountain. It is your barrier from the elements – wind, rain, snow and midges. A tent will allow you sleep relatively comfortably in almost any environment. We will arrange you a comfortable sleeping bag, mattress and other outdoor equipment. Ganden Monastery is one of the 'great three' Gelugpa university monasteries of Tibet, located at the top of Wangburi Mountain, Tagtse County, 36 kilometers ENE from the Potala Palace in Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,300m.
Ganden means "joyful" and is the Tibetan name for Tushita , the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside. It was the original monastery of the Gelugpa order, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409, and traditionally considered to be the seat of Gelugpa. It was the original monastery of the Gelug order, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409,and traditionally considered to be the seat of Gelug administrative . The Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden' is the head of the Gelukpa school.
Tsongkhapa's preserved body was entombed there in a silver and gold encrusted tomb by his disciples in 1419. Being the farthest from Lhasa of the three university monasteries, Ganden traditionally had a smaller population with some 6,000 monks before 1959 (although Waddell reports an estimate of about 3,300 in the 1890s and there were, apparently only 2,000 in 1959.At this time there are about 300 monks.
Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse, meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. The three main sights in the Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught. The monastery houses artifacts which belonged to Tsongkhapa.It contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks.
Day 5: Bike tour to Drak Yerpa monastery
Drak Yerpa is about 18 miles to the northeast of Lhasa, it is probably not of great interest for the average traveler, but for those with a particular interest in Tibetan Buddhism, Yerpa is one of the holiest cave retreats ever. At one time the hill at the base of the Cave— dotted cliffs was home to Yerpa Monastery. The history of Dark Yerpa includes many of the great names responsible for the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet Emperor Songtsen Gampo meditated in seclusion here: Guru Rimpoche and several of his disciples also meditated here. Here Jowo Atisha chose to preach extensively. Although the ancient Kadampa, Gompa has been destroyed, the geomantic qualities that made Drak Yerpa a major power place still remain and still attract hermits to its caves. DESCRIPTIONS The entrance to the Yerpa Valley is about 16 km northeast of Lhasa on the northern bank of the Kyichu. From there, it is another 10 km to the famous ancient meditation caves in the spectacular limestone cliffs of the Yerpa Valley.
Here you can find some remarkable caves of Guru Rinpoche and Songtsan Gampo contemplation site. Come back to Lhasa in the evening.
Day 6 : Driving to airport and take flight or train Today we end this unforgettable tour , tour services end and Tibet warmheartedly welcome you back forever .