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Tibet Cultural Tour
Duration :- 10 Nights / 11 Days
Drive to Kodari, the Nepal/Tibet border crossing point situated 114 km from Kathmandu. After going through customs and immigration formalities, trek for approximately two hours (8 km) to Zhangmu. After completion of immigration formalities, check in at Hotel Zhangmu for overnight stay. Zhangmu (7,000 ft/2,134 m), better known by its Tibetan name of Khasa is a small settlement clinging to a hillside 10 km inland from the Friendship Bridge across the Bhote Kosi. After the closure of the Indo-Chinese route from Gangtok, Zhangmu has become the major trading route between Tibet and Nepal. The climate is quite different from the hinterland. The hills around Zhangmu are heavily wooded with innumerable waterfalls in the summer and frozen icicles in the winter. Zhangmu has a bank, a post office, a government store and is presently undergoing a construction boom to meet the demands of increasing trade and tourism.
Day 02 : Zhangmu - Xegar
Drive 257 km from Zhangmu to Xegar (13,800 ft/4,207 m). This is a new Chinese commune built at the foot of the ruins of Xegar Dzong and is 7 km from the main road. With a population of 3,000, its importance lies in the fact that it is the centre of this large and remote country and is also the base from where expeditions to Mt. Everest and other peaks are launched. Presently, accommodation is very Spartan, in mud-floored rooms, with dry latrines. However, there are plans to build a modest lodge in its vicinity.
Day 03 : Xegar - Xigatse
Drive 245 km from Xegar to Xigatse (12,600 ft/3,842 m), which is famous for the Tashihunpo monastery. This is the seat of the Panchen Lama, who is regarded as the reincarnation of the Buddha of Endless Enlightenment. Built in 1447 by the First Dalai Lama, the monastery houses the relics of Sakyamuni, the great Hall of Maitreya and a vast collection of thankas, frescoes and statues. There is a bustling 'free' market at the foot of the ruins of the Xigatse fortress where one can buy local handicrafts embedded with coral and turquoise, Tibetan daggers, Chinese porcelain and yak butter.
Day 04 : Xigatse - Gyangtse
Drive 93 km from Xigatse to Gyangtse (13,050 ft/3,979 m). This is a small agricultural town famous for its wool carpets and the Palkhor Choide Chorten. Set amongst the ruins of the Lamasery and the fort, this unique structure, built in 1414, consists of five storeys representing the five steps to enlightenment, topped by thirteen rings which symbolize the stages of advancement toward Buddhahood. There are 108 halls inside, each with frescoes showing a strong Indian influence and Buddha shrines. Before 1959, traders coming from Kalimpong and Gangtok in India used to enter Tibet through Yadong and then to Gyangtse, enroute to Lhasa.
Day 05 : Gyangtse - Lhasa
Drive 359 km from Gyangtse to Lhasa. Situated at an altitude of 11,850 feet (3,613 m), Lhasa was and still is the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet. Places of interest include the Potala, the 13-storey palace of the Dalai Lama with over 1,000 rooms; the legendary monasteries of Drepung and Sera; Norbulingka the summer palace of the Dalai Lama and the Jokhang, the holiest shrine of Tibet. The circular Barkhor Street with its innumerable shops and wayside peddlers intermingling with the devotees walking clockwise around the Jokhang enfuses the magic and experience of Tibet.
Day 06 : In Lhasa
In the morning visit Sera monastery. "Sera" means hailstone in Tibetan. Set on the foot of the Wudu hill to the north of Lhasa, Sera comprises over thirty sections, including a great sutra chanting hall and a college.
In the afternoon visit Jokhang temple, built in 647 AD. This is the spiritual centre of Tibet and the holiest destination of the Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. It houses a statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old. Barkhor bazaar is the earliest street of old Lhasa and circles the Jokhang temple.
Day 07 : In Lhasa
In the morning visit the imposing Potala palace. Located on the Red Hill, it was built in 640 AD during the reign of Songtsan Gampo. The original Potala was destroyed in the 9th century but was rebuilt in the 17th century during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama. In the afternoon visit Drepung monastery. Situated to the west of Lhasa, this monastery was founded in 1416 AD by one of the disciples of Tsong Khapa. It was the largest and the richest of the three major yellow-sect monasteries in Lhasa.
Day 08 : Lhasa - Xigatse
Begin the return drive to Nepal, with a night halt at to Xigatse.
Day 09 : Xigatse - Tingri
Continue on to Tingri, halting there for an overnight stay.
Day 10 : Tingri - Zhangmu
Continue on to Zhangmu.
Day 11 : Zhangmu - Kathmandu
Return to Kathmandu.