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Tibet, also known as Xizang, is called the “Roof of the World.”  This land is breathtakingly beautiful, a perfect blend of green grasslands and snow-capped mountains.  People that visit Tibet are overwhelmed with its regal atmosphere and majestic scenery.  That coupled with the mysterious and even exotic culture, makes this an excellent travel destination. 

Tibet is often referred to as “Tibet Autonomous Region” or TAR for short.  However, keep in mind that TAR is not Tibet.  The Chinese government divided the historical Tibet into a number of regions and prefectures.  Therefore, TAR only involves the central region and a portion of the eastern region.  With this division, approximately 60% of the original territory of Tibet has now been absorbed into China. 

The historical Tibet sits on the border of Sikkim, Bhutan, India, Burma, and Nepal.  Spread out more than 470,000 square miles, the plateau is beautifully surrounded by the Himalaya to the south, Kunlun to the north and Karakoram to the west, which makes up the highest mountain ranges in the world.  However, you will also find many other smaller mountain ranges to the east.  While the four main mountain ranges average 26,240 feet above sea level, keep in mind that there are still 38 other mountains that exceed altitudes of 22,960 feet. 

Tibet is known around the world for having Mt. Everest towering over the entire region.  As you can see, Tibet has earned the name “Roof of the World” for very good reason.  Throughout the region, you will also find many great rivers, such as the famous Yangtze River, along with the Nu River, Yellow River, Yarlong Tsangpo River, Indus River, Ganges River, and Lancang River.  In addition to the magnificent rivers, the land is also dotted with many green valleys and crystal blue lakes, to include the wonderful Yamdrok Yumtso Lake. 

While some of the areas within Tibet are so rugged that they are very difficult to access, you can enjoy trips to Lhasa and Shigatse, where you can visit religious monuments and other tourist attractions, all easily reached.  One of the most popular monuments is Potala.  However, you will also find the Tashilunpo Monastery, Kumbum, and the Jokhang Temple here, all worth your time and effort to see. 

Off to the west, there is a barren plateau called Ngari.  This vast area has the nickname of “Roof of Tibet.”  If you want to experience some of Tibet’s sacred spots, you can visit Lake Manasarova, which joins Mt. Kailash.  Ngari is where many Hindus and Tibetans go to pay holy pilgrimage.  Additionally, for individuals that love to hike, this is the ideal destination. 

Two other places to visit while there include the Guge Kingdom and the Shang Shung Kingdom, both ancient sites that should not be missed.  If you travel to the southwestern portion of Tibet, you will fall in love with the mountains, making this an outdoors person’s haven.  In all, more than 40 snow-covered peaks are available for hikers to enjoy.  In addition to the mountains for climbing, you can also enjoy running waters, primeval forests, and a comfortable climate.  In fact, here you will see Yarlong Tsangpo Canyon, the largest canyon in the entire world. 

Art in Tibet is very popular and influenced strongly by Buddhism.  One such form is called Thanka, which is highly developed and complex.  Regarding Buddhism, this is the lifeblood of the Tibetan people, although it does vary some from the way in which other countries practice this religious belief.  For this reason, in Tibet, it is known as Tibetan Buddhism.  Prior to China invading this country, the Dalai Lama served as the theological leader and head of state in a theocracy. 

To continue the teaching for adults and help establish the children, four Tibetan Buddhism schools were created.  These schools consist of Kagyu, Sakya, Geluk, and Nyingma with this last one being the oldest, having emerged between the 8th and 9th Centuries.  However, before the Tibetans began practicing Buddhism, they practiced another form of religion known as Shamanism, which was actually called Bon.  This influence can still be seen in some of Tibet’s religious art. 

In addition to the beauty of Tibet and the wonderful places to visit, unfortunately, there are still areas of unrest.  Within Tibet today, the people are under strict guidelines when it comes to the freedom of religion, press, and speech.  In fact, it is estimated that there remains about 1,200 political prisoners still held in Tibet, which includes some very interesting people.  For example, a Fulbright scholar by the name of Ngawang Choephel is one such prisoner along with Panchen Lama, who is a nine-year-old religious figure that disappeared in 1995 by Chinese authorities.  Additionally, there are many nuns, monks, and even civilians still suffering greatly. 

Sadly, the Chinese government set up laws that forced families to have abortions and undergo sterilization, along with the transfer of thousands of Chinese citizens coming into Tibet, which placed a direct threat on the country’s existence.  In fact, the number of Chinese settlers compared with the Tibetans is vast.  Because of these changes, many Tibetans still flee the occupied part of Tibet, which requires them to travel over treacherous mountain passes. 

If you plan to take a trip to Tibet, you will discover the people to be very inviting and warm.  The monuments, monasteries, temples, and other attractions are something you simply should not overlook.  However, because there are some problem areas within this country, you should consider organizing your trip through a reputable travel agent.  By knowing where to go and what to see, you will have an amazing experience that will not be forgotten.


 

The Great Wall of China The Forbidden City
The Terracotta Army Along the Silk Road
 
Dragon & Phoenix ~ Silk Embroidery
Silk Embroidery
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases
Cloisonne
Pair of Brass Foo Dogs
Brass & Bronze
Inside Painted Boxes
 
 

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