Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tibet Day 4: Shigatse and Tashilhunpo

Onward on the road to Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city and the traditional capital of the Tsang. The key place to visit in Shigatse is Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. Here you can see the 85 ft high statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, covered in more than 600 lbs of gold.

Recalling that lamas are cremated and placed in tombs, this is the place to see numerous elaborate tombs of the various Panchen Lamas. Panchen Lamas are any of the line of reincarnated lamas in Tibet, each of whom heads the influential Tashilhunpo and until recent times was second only to the Dalai-Lama in spiritual authority within the dominant Dge-lugs-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

The walls of Tashilhunpo are unique - they are probably a meter thick and constructed of bundles of densely packed roots - something perhaps like juniper. Water and rot-resistant, this monastery built in 1447 should continue to house the "yellow hat" sect for many centuries to follow.

Overnight at the Manasarovar Hotel.

Link back to the beginning of the October 2007 Tibet trip at: Planning for Tibet, Arriving in Tibet and Off to Tsetang, Tibet Day 2: Tsetang Tibet Day 2: Journey to Samye, Tibet Day 3: Road to Gyantse - Yamdrok-Tso Lake and Tibet Day 3: Continuing on the Road to Gyantse, and Day 4: Gyantse - Pelkor Choede and Kumbum Chorten

Link forward to Tibet Day 5: Enroute to our Final Stop - Lhasa

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