Lhasa, Samye Tsedang Tour - 6 Days
A unique monastery and village rolled into one, Samye is a highlight of a visit to Tibet. Situated amidst breathtaking scenery, the journey to Samye is splendid no matter how you arrive. The layout of the huge monastery complex forms a giant Mandala, a representation of the Buddhist universe, and is modeled after the Indian temple of Odantapuri in Bihar. The complex is surrounded by a strong wall topped by 1008 (108 is a sacred number) tiny Chortens and pierced by gates at the four cardinal points. The main temple in the center represents Mt. Meru, the mythical mountain at the center of the Buddhist universe. The four continents in the ocean around Mt. Meru are represented by the four Lingshi temples at the cardinal points, each flanked by two smaller temples (Lingtren) to symbolize islands in the ocean. There are four large Chortens at the corners of the main temple in four different colors, and there is a Nyima (Sun) temple in the north and a Dawa (Moon) temple to the south. The main temple, (Utse), at Samye is a grand six-story building that takes a couple of hours to thoroughly explore. Bring a flashlight to see the murals hidden in the shadows. The first floor is the most impressive of the six, and is dominated by the main assembly hall, with old Mandalas on the high ceiling. Flanking the entrance to the main chapel are statues of historical figures associated with Samye's founding: Shantarakshita, Padmasambhava, Trisong Detsen and Songtsen Gampo are among those on the left.
History of Samye Monastery: Samye Monastery was founded in the 8th century during the reign of King Trisong Detsen with the help of the Indian Buddhist masters Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita, whom the king had invited to Tibet to help spread Buddhism. Padamasambhava is credited with subduing the local spirits and winning them over to Buddhism. The first Tibetan monks were ordained here after examination, and are referred to as the Seven Examined Men. Over the centuries Samye has been associated with various schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Padmasambhava's involvement makes Samye important in the Nyingma School, but it was later taken over by the Sakya and Gelugpa schools. Today, Tibetans of all traditions come to worship here.
The rough Itenerary of Lhasa- Samye- Tsedang/ 6 days
Day 1: Arrival/ Acclimitization (overnight at Lhasa 3650mtrs above sea level)
Day 2: Lhasa sightseeing visit Drepung and Sera Monastery (overnight at Lhasa)
Day 3: Lhasa sightseeing visit Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple (overnight at Lhasa)
Day 4: Lhasa- Samye Monastery- Tsedang (overnight at Tsedang 3500 mtrs above sea level)
Day 5: Tsedang Town sightseeing (overnight at Tsedang)
Day 6: Departure
Day 1: Arrival (Acclimization)
Arrive by flight or train to Lhasa. Upon arrival in Lhasa, your Tibetan local guide will most likely meet you at your rented vehicle and drive you to holy city Lhasa, scanning the vast countryside for the first sight of the Potala Palace.
Day 02: Lhasa City Sightseeing Drepung and Sera Monastery
Since this is your first day of sightseeing on the high plateau, we have arranged only Drepung monastery in the morning and Sera Monastery in the afternoon. Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416. Drepung Monastery 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. Sera monastery was founded in 1419 by Shakya yeshe, a discipple of Tsongkhapa also known by the honorific title Jamchen choje. In its heyday, Sera hosted five colleges of instruction, Sera me specialized in the fundamental precepts of Buddhism; sera Je in the instruction of itinerant monks from out side central Tibet; and Sera Ngapa in Tantric studies. Sera monastery is a few kilometers from Lhasa. You can visit there in the afternoon with the intention of watching the debating monks. Every day (except for Sundays), the Sera Monastery’s monks undertake a one-on-one (or sometimes two-on-one) debate on the philosophies of life. You can wait of monks gather in the courtyard in pairs or teams, and began discussing a particular topic. Usually, one monk was seated on the ground cross legged (or on a mat) with his partner standing above him. The standing monk would pose a question (so it seemed), or make a statement and as he completed his sentence clap his hands whilst at the same time stamping his left foot. It was a fascinating thing to watch, though you have no idea what was being said as it was in Tibetan. Ask your guide if you are curious and lack of understanding what was being discussed as the debate topics were related to their Buddhist studies. You can watch the debates for over an hour, intrigued and at times amused, as some monks were quite intense and serious reasoning mind on Buddhist philosophy which based on observation and reason. It was certainly an interesting afternoon.
Day 03: Lhasa City sightseeing, Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple
After one and half day of acclimatization in the high altitude of Lhasa city, today you will be arranged to visit Potala Palace in the morning and Jokhang temple in the afternoon. 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 show Good Morning America and the newspaper USA Today. Jokhang temple for most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important in Tibet. It is in some regards Pan- sectarian, but is presently controlled by the Gelugpa School. It was founded during the reign of King Songtsan Gampo. Tsulklakhang in Tibetan house of science of compassion and wisdom, the spiritual heart of Tibet, people do pilgrimage for days, weeks, months and years to see this holiness of a spiritual centre of Lhasa. Jokhang Temple ("House of the Lord Buddha") 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.
Day 4: Lhasa-Tsedang via Samye monastery
Drive to Tsedang gateway to the ancient Yarlung Kingdom. En-route, take ferry across Yarlungzangpo River to see Samye Monastery or (drive to Samye directly). Samye is at a distance of 50 km from Tsedang town; it is one of very large town in Tibet and is located in the Yarlung Valley. Tsedang has been the capital of Yarlung since ancient times and was the seat of the ancient kings of Tibet. It is situated near the flank of Mount Gongbori (3,400m) and is home to many ancient ruins. It is known as the cradle of Tibetan's civilization. In Tsedang you can see and explore, Yumbulhakhang, Tadruk Temple and the tombs of ancient Tibetan kings. Stay around Tsedang town overnight.
Day 5: Tsedang Sightseeing
Drive and visit Yambulakhang Palace. Yumbulhakhang palace is an ancient palace in the Yarlung valley. According to legend it was the first building in Tibet and the palace of the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo. Yungbulakang stands on a hill on the eastern bank of the Yarlung River in the Yarlung Valley of southeast Naidong County, about 192 km southeast of Lhasa, and 9 km south of Tsedang.
What more to see near Tsedang Town: The Valley of the Kings or Chongye Valley that are believed to contain eight to ten buried Tibetan kings. According to Tibetan tradition all the kings from Dri-gum onwards are buried at ‘Phyong-rgyas, but as the site now presents itself. There are just ten tumuli identifiable as the tombs of all the kings from King Song Tsan Gampo to Khri-lde-srong-brtsan, including two princes. Other sources, however, have indicated that there are actually nine mounds rather than eight or ten. The kings believed to be buried at the site include Songtsän Gampo (the founder of the Tibetan Empire), Nansong Mangsten, Tridu Songtsen, Gyangtsa Laban, Tride Tsugtsen, Trisong Detsen, Muni Tsangpo and Tritsu Detsen.
Day 6: Tsedang Departure
Today we end here an unforgettable experience tour in Tibet. We will drive you to airport and take flight or train. We would love to send you all our best wishes for your continue enjoy happy journey and Tibet warm heartedly welcome you back forever.