City of Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region
If Tibet is the "roof of the world," then its capital, Lhasa, is
certainly the “city of the sun.” Standing on a plain over 13,000
feet above sea level, surrounded by towering mountains, Lhasa is a
town bathed in sunlight.
Tibet has suffered fluctuating fortunes over the centuries.
Historical records reveal little about the region before the seventh
century, when King Songzan Ganbu (617-650 A.D.) unified the area and
introduced the Sanskrit alphabet. During the centuries that
followed, Buddhism took root in Tibet, introduced from India into
China by pilgrims traveling the "Silk Road" far to the north.
Buddhism was influenced by the local religion, called Bon, and
developed into a form called Lamaism. By the 10th century, the
religious movement began to assert political leadership as well. In
1573, a reincarnation of Zongkaba, the founder of the "yellow hat"
sect devoted to religious reform, became the first Dalai Lama.
The Potala Palace dominates the city of Lhasa from its site atop Red
Mountain (Marpo Ri). It served as a fortress and as the residence of
the Dalai Lamas, and so was the center of both political and
religious power in Tibet, remaining today an immensely popular
pilgrimage site. Divided into White and Red Palaces, the complex
rises 110 m (360 ft) high and extends 360 m (1,200 ft) across, and
was one of the world’s tallest buildings before the era of modern
skyscrapers. Rising thirteen stories and containing over a thousand
rooms and some 200,000 images, the palace complex took the work of
more than 7,000 laborers and 1,500 artists for more than fifty years
to complete. Beneath the fortress are the dungeons where those who
ran afoul of the Lamaist theocracy were imprisoned and tortured.
(More about Potala Palace)
THE JOKHANG TEMPLE
The magnificent Jokhang Temple, founded more than 1,300 years ago,
is situated in the center of Lhasa. In front of the gate stands a
stone tablet from the Tang Dynasty, bearing both Chinese characters
and Tibetan script. Nearby is the Tang willow tree planted by
Princess Wen Cheng.
Another famous building in Lhasa is the Drepung Monastery located
six miles north of the city. Standing on a high cliff, its many
tiers leaning into a steep mountain face, the monastery is built in
traditional Tibetan style. Founded in 1416, it was one of the
centers of the "yellow hat" sect, and in its time was the largest of
the three great monasteries near Lhasa, housing 10,000 lamas. The
temples of the monastery are lavishly decorated with statues of the
Buddha, Zongkaba, and others of the Buddhist pantheon. The monastery
is still open to worshippers.
Mount Qomolangma, meaning "goddess the third" in the Tibetan
language, or Mt. Everest as known in the West, is the world's
highest peak, more than 39,000 feet high.
It is everybody's wish to see the world's highest peak, of course,
but it is best to admire it from afar, and leave the climbing to the
Ngari (It has different ways of transliteration, such as mNgac-ris
and Ali, etc) a miraculous district in the west of the Tibet
Autonomous Region in China, is called "the ridge on the roof of the
world". (Click for more about Ngari Region)