Tsetang, capital of the Shannan Prefecture, is one of the largest cities in Tibet. Situated on the southern bank of the winding Yarlung Tsangbo River, the ancient city sits among the clouds at an altitude of 11,811 feet. The city is accepted as the birthplace of the earliest Tibetans, who, as legends have it, were the manifestation of a monkey and beautiful cannibal ogress mating. The city is home to the oldest Tibetan dwelling and several impressive Buddhist architectural locales. Tsetang is known not only for its cultural, historical and architectural sites but also for its natural beauty. Located between two towering mountain ranges; the Himalayas to the north and the Nyanchen Tanggula to the south, the city is surrounded by a spectacular horizon.


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Chimpuk Meditation Cave

Chimpuk is one of the most popular centers for practicing self-meditation. Initiated by the Guru Rinpoche in the eighth century, the hotspot has since served as the meditation place for many a great king and guru. The center boasts over 100 meditation caves, sky burial stages and a Buddhist nunnery. The location offers the perfect setting to achieve absolute serenity, nestled amongst a beautiful mountain-scape, with green rolling hills and clear, moving waters. Visitors may use the space as a meditation center, or simply visit and take in the incredible splendor and unique energy the spiritual space.

Samye Monastery

The Samye Monastery was the first temple built in Tibet, complete with the three Buddhist jewels of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Visitors come from near and far to see this incredibly well-maintained link to a fascinating past with their own eyes. The Monastery is notable as the site of the “Great Debate,” that took placed during the year 792-794 between the Indian Mahayanists and Chinese Chan, or Zen, Buddhists. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists, some of whom travel on foot for weeks to reach the spiritual destination.

Tradruk Temple

One of the earliest Buddhist temples in Tibetan history, Traduk Temple was built in 641 A.D. Many legends surround the establishment of the temple. The temple is composed of three parts - the main hall, the room utilized for the turning of the prayer wheel that encircles a great porch, and the porch courtyard. A consecrated Sanshi Buddha image made entirely of copper castings is unlike any other in the vicinity. The Pearl Tangka is another impressive sight. The embroidered tapestry is made up of nearly 30 000 precious minerals including pearls, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and gold. Its preservation is a near miracle as it has been passed down through several generations without being damaged or lost, even through socio-political turbulence and war.

Yungbulakang Palace

Acknowledged as the first building in Tibet, the Yungbulakang Palace was built over 2,000 years ago. Perched atop a mountain, the panoramic view from the palace is second to none. The palace is named after its shape, “Yumba” meaning dear and “Lagang” meaning sacred place. It is dedicated to the worship of Shakyamuni Buddha, however wall paintings vividly depict the first king of Tibet.

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