Tsetang, the Birthplace of Tibetan Culture
Tsetang is situated on the southern bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, at an elevation of 3,600 meters above the sea level. It enjoys a temperate climate. The Sannan Prefecture is famous for its picturesque pasture lands, river valleys, snow-capped mountains and glaciers, ancient religious sites, and unique customs.
It has a rich variety of flora, distributed vertically according to the elevation. The historical and cultural sites include the first palace in Tibet (Yambo Lhakhang), its first monastery (Samye), the first Buddhist Monastery (in Changzhug Monastery), and the tombs of the ancient Tibetan kings. In total there are some 40 scenic spots in the area and some are not allowed for touristic movement.
The following are some historical and cultural sites that we include in our tours.
Yambo Lhakhang Palace
Yambo Lhakhang Palace is the first palace in Tibetan history and it is situated eight Kilometres to the south of Tsetang town. It is said that the palace was built in the second century B.C by the first king Nyatri Tsenpo. It houses the statues of Buddhas of the three world and kings from various historical periods including Nyatri Tsenpo, Lhatu Turi Niantsan, Rabajin, Songtsen Gampo, and Trisong Detsen.
The Minzholing Monastery was built in the late 10th century and had its current name when it was rebuilt in 1677. It is one of the three great monasteries of the Nyingmapa sect. The monastery has paid attention to the research of Buddhist classics, an astronomical calendar, calligraphy rhetoric, and Tibetan medicines and is famous for its achievements in these fields. Over the years the recommendation of the “Chronology of the Tibetan Calendar” has been formulated by the monastery, and it is famous as the first academy of Lamaism in Tibet.
The Hot Springs in Oiga
In small pastureland, in the Oiga Town, there are seven hot springs. Those springs water is considered medicinal for the treatment of the stomach and eye diseases. Of these hot springs, the Choluka Hot Spring is exclusive for the Dalai Lamas of various historical stages. The hot spring in Oiga boasts beautiful sceneries and unique local folklore. In the spring and summer, flocks of people come here for bathing.
The Kanggardo Mountain in Cona County is 7,060 meters high above the sea level. Covered by snow year-round, the topography is lower in the southern section and higher in the northern section. Its main peak is surrounded by dozens of peaks with an elevation of more than 6,000 meters and its’ valley is filled with beautiful glaciers and valleys. The average rainfall here, June to September, is above 400mm. The mountain slopes and valleys are densely forested teeming with dozens of kinds of wildlife such as the wild donkeys and Mongolian gazelles.
Changzung Monastery situated by the highway on the east bank of the Yalong River was built in the seventh century and has been repaired in various historical periods. A legend says that after the establishment of its capital in Lhasa the Songtsen Gompo and Princess Wen Cheng came to stay here. It is believed that the willow trees around the monastery were planted by the princess. The monastery contains a precious Thangkas painting of a Buddha inlaid with pearls and gems.
Tombs of the Tibetan Kings
Tombs of the Tibetan Kings, the burial ground, of the 29th-40th Tsanpos of the Tubo Kingdom is the only group of the tombs of the Tibetan kings in Tibet and has a history of more than 1,300 years. Today nine are visible, but only those of Songtsen Gambo and Trisong Detsen can be verified.
The Samye Monastery
Samye Monastery located on the northern bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Chanang County was built in 779 under the supervision of Guru Rimpoche (the Master Padmasambhava) and the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen. It is the first monastery constructed in Tibet. The magnificent and unique Central Hall is three stories high. The first floor is in the Tibetan architectural style, the second in the Han style, and the third in the Indian style. The halls in the monastery contain many statues and murals. The monastery has bronze bells, carved marble lions, and tablets that record the development of Buddhism in Tibet. All are valuable cultural relics.