Tibet Travel Guide

 Tibet is located on the highest region of the world and known as “Roof of The World”, with an average elevation of 4,900 meters (16,000ft). The Tibet is surrounded by many great snowcapped Mountain Ranges like, Karakoram Ranges in the West of Tibet, Himalaya Ranges in the North, Nyenchen Thangla Range in the North and so on. The Highest Point of the world is the Mt. Everest (Mt. Qomolangma), rise up to 8,848m (29,029ft) above the sea-level. Because of its location, Tibet is separated from rest of the world and this unique Home of Tibetans has become the world travelers’ top travel – destination, drawn to its unique Culture.

Tibetan History, like many other remote places on earth, is a vague subject with multiple sources and stories, and even more supernatural stuff to count. Tibet’s geographical condition, being surrounded by high mountain ranges, secluded it from the outer world for centuries. Prehistoric Tibet and the stories behind are still mysterious or mythical due to lack of evidence. Zhang-Zhung in west Tibet, where the Guge Kingdom is now, used to be the dominant power of all of Tibet before Yarlung Dynasty took up the step to rule, and that Zhang-Zhung is also considered to be the birthplace of the ancient Tibetan Bon Religion.

 

Prehistory and Myths

The Archaeologists have recently made a number findings in Tibet that explain prehistoric human inhabitation on the Tibetan plateau, they have gathered that Tibetans have the plateau for more than 21 thousand years, The Tibetans first settled along the middle reaches of the Yarlung River (Brahmaputra River) in Tibet. Evidence of the new and old stone age culture was found in archaeological excavations at Nyalam, Nagchu, Nyingchi and Chamdo. According to ancient historical documents, members of the earliest clans formed tribes known as “Bos” (or “Pos”) in Lhoka, located on the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Valley in southern Tibet near the present-day border with Bhutan. There also many pieces of evidence that shows Tibet has been inhabited since the Late Palaeolithic era. During the mid-Holocene (11.700 years ago to present), Neolithic immigrants from northern China largely replaced the original inhabitants, bringing with them elements of Neolithic culture and technology, although a degree of genetic continuity with the Palaeolithic settlers still exists.

In a later myth, first attested in the Maṇi Ka’ ‘Bum, the Tibetan people are the progeny of the union of the monkey Pha Trelgen Jangchup Sempa and rock ogress Ma Drag Sinmo. But the monkey was a manifestation of the bodhisattva Chenrezig, or Avalokiteshvara while the ogress, in turn, incarnated Chenrezig’s consort Dolma.

 

Zhang-Zhung kingdoms and Bon Religion

Zhang-Zhung, now Guge, was the culture and kingdom of all of western Tibet, which has survived long before Buddhism in Tibet, Zhang-Zhung is also claimed to be the birthplace of Bon religion which in turn has influenced the philosophies and practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Zhang-Zhung, as a kingdom was powerful enough to conquer all the neighbouring kingdoms of 18 in total at a time, the culture, however, controlled the major portion of Tibetan Plateau. Tibetans practised Bon for centuries even after the rise of the so-called Yarlung Dynasty or Tibetan Empire until Buddhism was fully supported by the majority, which took a long long time.

The kingdom’s reign lasted until when Songtsen Gampo conquered the whole region and more in the 7th century.

 

Yarlung Dynasty and Tibetan Empire

Meanwhile, in Yarlung valley, another kingdom had risen to become Yarlung Dynasty, though with only a little evidence to prove its existence until the 32nd king of Tibet Namri Songtsen in the 7th century. But Tibetan mythology points out a lot of story lines from different sources, many of those place Nyatri Tsenpo as the first king of Yarlung Dynasty, he was a legendary progenitor of the so-called “Yarlung dynasty”. His reign is said to have begun in 127 BC. In traditional Tibetan history, he was the first ruler of the kingdom. Yumbulakang, the first Tibetan building, is said to be built for him. But due to lack of material evidence, Nyatri Tsenpo’s origin, what happened to him and his descendants until the rise of Tibetan Empire in the 7th century are still being clarified among Tibetologists.

Namri Songtsen was the first king of Tibet who really started to make really marks on the history of Tibet and his descendant followed and kept the glory until the Era of Fragmentation, Namri Songtsen gained control of all the area around what is now Lhasa, before his assassination around 618. This new-born regional state would later become known as the Tibetan Empire. The government of Namri Songtsen sent two embassies to the Chinese Sui Dynasty in 608 and 609, marking the appearance of Tibet on the international scene.

Namri’s son Great Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd king of Yarlung Dynasty, was enthroned as the emperor of Tibet at a wee age of 13 when his father was assassinated by poisoning. Songtsen Gampo proved himself to be adept at diplomacy as well as combat, the emperor with the help of his ministers brought the neighbouring kingdoms to submissions one by one through force or by will.

The emperor later sent a group of 16 young scholars to India to learn Sanskrit, the emperor wanted to translate explore the basket of Buddhism scripture that the 28th king Thothori Nyantsen received (legendary has it that the scriptures fell from the sky on the palace’s roof). Most of the scholars he sent to India died on way, and when the group returned home there was only one no scholar, and that was Thonmi Sambhota who later invented Tibetan Script and helped Songtsen Gampo write the laws of Tibet.

He is said to have had a number of wives, the most popular 2 are the Nepalese princess Bhrikuti (Balsa Kongjo) and the Chinese princess Wencheng (Gyasa Kongjo), both of whose influences are involved in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, Jokhang temple in Lhasa was built under Bhrikuti’s instructions facing towards her hometown, and Ramoche Temple under Wencheng’s.

But he never stopped expanding and ruling over all the territories under his command, therefore he became the originator of the Tibetan Empire. Tibetan Empire, between the 7th to the 9th century, from the time of Songtsen Gampo the power of the empire gradually increased over a diverse terrain. By the reign of the emperor Ralpachen, in the opening years of the 9th century, it controlled territories extending from the Tarim basin to the Himalayas and Bengal, and from the Pamirs to what is now Chinese provinces of Gansu and Yunnan.

In around 637, after a flood in Yarlung Valley, the emperor decided to build a palace on Mt. Potalaka or Red Hill in Lhasa and named it the Red Palace or Potala Palace. During his reign, not only did the emperor unified the several Tibetan kingdoms, he also introduced Buddhism in Tibet for the first time from India and invented Tibetan scripts with the help of Thonmi Sambhota. It was later believed that he was a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara, Songtsen Gampo is also the first of 3 Dharma Kings of Tibet. The birth of Songtsen Gampo is still to be pinpointed, his death, according to the Tibetan Annals, happened in 649, his tomb is in the Chongyai Valley near Yarlung.

 

End of Tibetan Empire and Era of Fragmentation

Tibetan Empire started to decline slowly after Songtsen Gampo, disintegrating one by one, eventually coming to an end with the assassination of the last emperor of Tibet, Langdarma in 841. However, there were some great emperors before the Era of Fragmentation who contributed the Tibetan Empire with great things.

In 755, Trisong Detsen’s reign started, he was the 37th emperor of Tibet and the second in the Three Dharma Kings, the emperor played a pivotal role in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet and the establishment of the Nyingma or “Ancient” school of Tibetan Buddhism. He also set up the first community for Tibetan Buddhist monks in the Yarlung valley

The Tibetan Empire reached its greatest extent during the reign of Tri Ralpachen c. 815, until 838 CE, the 41st emperor of Tibet and the last of the Three Dharma Kings, he included parts of China, India, Nepal, the Kingdom of Khotan, Balti, Bruzha (Gilgit and Hunza), Zhangzhung, Hor-yul, Sog-yul, Yugur, and Kamilog (roughly equivalent to present-day Sichuan), as well as almost all of modern Xinjiang and Gansu. Ralpachen is also credited for his efforts in promoting literature and translating old Buddhist scriptures and tantras with the help of Tibetan and Sanskrit scholars from India.

With the assassination (or the unfortunate death) of Ralpachen in 838, his anti-Buddhism and pro-Bon brother Langdarma was enthroned, the last emperor of the unified Tibetan Empire. He is said to have ruled for a year and a half, during his reign he destroyed thousands of Buddhist relics, scriptures and even massacred Buddhist monks leading to his own assassination by a Buddhist hermit or monk named Lhalung Pelgyi Dorje in 841. His death was followed by civil war and the dissolution of the Tibetan empire, leading to the Era of Fragmentation.

With the demise of Langdarma leaving Tibetan Empire without an emperor, there was a controversy about who should take the throne between the last emperor’s two sons; Yumten and Woesung, a year later the brothers broke into a civil that led to the division of the empire into fragments. Woesung and his allies managed to keep control of Lhasa while his brother Yumten was expelled to Yarlung where he set up his own line of kings.

Woesung’s grandson Trikhiding later migrated to western Tibet (Zhang-Zhung area) and founded a local dynasty, his descendants later invited Atisha from Bengal in 1040, Atisha is considered as one of the most important Buddhist teachers in Tibet for his various works on Mahayana Buddhism and Sakya school Buddhism in the latter year. Atisha visited central Tibet and with his chief disciple Dromtenpa Gyalwa Jomney and established the Kadampa order and monasteries such as Reting near Lhasa.

Meanwhile, in the central Tibet, the central rule was largely non-existent over the Tibetan region from 842 to 1247, Buddhism was in a very critical situation after years of demolition and hostility from Bon religion, during that period of time, numbers of small states rose from their regional power. However during the reign of Langdarma and his attempts at putting an end to Buddhism in Tibet, three monks had escaped the emperor’s tyranny to north-eastern Tibet, Amdo, those three monks were responsible for the revival Buddhism in the region.

One of Woesung’s descendants, who had an estate near Samye, sent ten young men to be trained by Gongpa Rabsal (the disciple of the three runaways). Once trained, these young men were ordained to go back into the central Tibetan regions of Ü and Tsang. The young scholars were able to link up with Atiśa shortly after 1042 and advance the spread and organisation of Buddhism in Lhokha. In that region, the faith eventually coalesced again, with the foundation of the Sakya Monastery in 1073. Over the next two centuries, the Sakya monastery grew to a position of prominence in Tibetan life and culture.

 

Mongol Invasion and Sakya Dynasty (1240-1354)

When the Mongols invaded Tibet in 1240, Tibet suffered casualties of thousands of deaths and lost many Buddhist monasteries to the destructions of the invasion. In 1247 at the request of Godan (Genghis Khan’s grandson), Sakya Pandita and his two nephews served as delegates of Tibet’s political leadership at the suggestion of the Abbot of Reting Monastery, and when Sakya Pandita arrived at Godan’s court he cured Godan of an illness, and Godan then became his disciple and converted to Buddhism and learned the Tantras; thus began their special relationship that made the Pandita’s rulers of Tibet.

With the help of the Mongol troops, Sakya Dynasty ruled Tibet for a little less than 100 years, all the revolts were vanquished and punished severely, until the rule over Tibet by a succession of Sakya lamas came to a definite end in 1358, when central Tibet came under the control of the Kagyu order.

 

Myriarchy Rules and Rise of Gelug Sect

During Mongol and Sakya Rule over Tibet, the Mongol appointed a puppet ruler for Tibet and titled him ‘Ponchen’, however there some smaller powers fighting alongside during the final years of Mongol and Sakya rule, all of them were either myriarchies or small princely states. But the period was filled with more internal conflicts than a peaceful governing, the central power over Tibet as a country was anonymous throughout the period for almost 300 years.

Between 1346 and 1350, Jangchup Gyaltsen toppled the Sakyapa order and founded the Phagmodrupa dynasty centred at Nedong in Yarlung, during his time he introduced lots of new systems and enacted rules based on the laws founded by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. In the following 80 years, various changes took place in Tibetan Buddhism with the appearance of Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), he founded the Gelug sect(also known as Yellow Hats) and built important Buddhist teaching centres like Ganden monastery east to Lhasa, later his disciples deeply followed his teachings and founded prominent monastic colleges like Drepung monastery and Sera monastery in the outskirts of Lhasa.

After that, internal strife within the dynasty and the strong localism of the various fiefs and political-religious factions led to a long series of internal conflicts. The minister family Rinpungpa, based in Tsang (West Central Tibet), dominated politics after 1435. In 1565 they were overthrown by the Tsangpa Dynasty of Shigatse which expanded its power in different directions of Tibet in the following decades and favoured the Karma Kagyu sect.

 

Dalai Lama Lineage Rule

Gelug sect continued through the disciples of Tsongkhapa and their disciples, eventually gaining all of spiritual and political power over all of Tibet mid-17th century. When Ganden Monastery was established, its first abbot was Gendun Druppa, the first Dalai Lama (posthumously titled), he was one of the most esteemed scholar-saint in the country at the time. It’s believed that Palden Lhamo, the protectress spirit of sacred lake Lhamo Latso, once promised Gendun in one of his visions that she would protect and guide his reincarnations lineage, it later became a custom to visit the lake for guidance on finding all the next reincarnation.

In 1578, Altan Khan, the king of Tumed Mongols and grandson of Kublai Khan, invited the Sonam Gyatso, third in the lineage of Gendun Druppa, to Koko Khotan. Sonam Gyatso gave teachings to a huge crowd, Altan Khan then awarded him with the title ‘Dalai Lama’, thus becoming the 3rd Dalai after his two predecessors – Gendun Druppa (1st Dalai Lama) and Gendun Gyatso (2nd Dalai Lama), both were titled posthumously.

With the accelerated spread of Buddhism in Mongolia, Yonten Gyatso, the fourth Dalai Lama (reincarnation of the third), took birth in Mongolia as the great-grandson of Altan Khan, he died at the age of 27 in Tibet.

It was during Lobsang Gyatso’s, the fifth Dalai Lama, time in the 17th century when he unified all Tibet protracted era of civil wars, (re)built the Potala Palace and also built military alliance with Gushi Khan who later helped the Dalai Lama defeat his opponents and other small princely states from trying to topple the Dalai Lama’s government. The fifth Dalai Lama passed away in 1682 but is was kept in secret until 1694 so as to complete the Potala Palace, it was believed that the people who built the palace did for their unshakable faith for the Dalai Lama and to prevent Tibet’s neighbour from taking advantage of the situation. Even to this day, the fifth Dalai Lama’s contributions are remembered, often recognised by the title ‘The Great Fifth’.

After the Great Fifth’s passing, the central power of Tibet remained with the Dalai Lama lineage and its regents, but most of the following Dalai Lamas lived only for short periods of time because of the political tension between Tibet and Qing Dynasty, the latter later slowly tried to take full control of Tibet and even did many times, but they were either stopped with the help of Tibet’s other neighbouring allies or slowly overpowered by the Tibetans, until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

The history of Buddhism in Tibet begins with Bon. The Bon religion of Tibet was animistic and shamanistic, and elements of it live on today, to one degree or another, in Tibetan Buddhism.

Although Buddhist scriptures may have made their way into Tibet centuries earlier, the history of Buddhism in Tibet effectively begins in 641 CE. In that year, King Songtsen Gampo (d. ca. 650) unified Tibet through military conquest and took two Buddhist wives, Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of China.

The princesses are credited with introducing their husband to Buddhism.

Songtsen Gampo built the first Buddhist temples in Tibet, including the Jokhang in Lhasa and the Changzhug in Nedong. He also put Tibetan translators to work on the Sanskrit scriptures.

 

GURU RINPOCHE AND NYINGMA

During the reign of King Trisong Detsen, which began about 755 CE, Buddhism became the official religion of the Tibetan people. The King also invited famous Buddhist teachers such as Shantarakshita and Padmasambhava to Tibet.

Padmasambhava, remembered by Tibetans as Guru Rinpoche (“Precious Master”), was an Indian master of tantra whose influence on the development of Tibetan Buddhism is incalculable. He is credited with building Samye, the first monastery in Tibet, in the late 8th century. Nyingma, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, claims Guru Rinpoche as its patriarch.

According to legend, when Guru Rinpoche arrived in Tibet he pacified the Bon demons and made them protectors of the Dharma.

 

SUPPRESSION

In 836 King Tri Ralpachen, a supporter of Buddhism died. His half brother Langdarma became the new King of Tibet. Langdarma suppressed Buddhism and re-established Bon as the official religion of Tibet. In 842, Langdarma was assassinated by a Buddhist monk. Rule of Tibet was divided between Langdarma’s two sons.

However, in the centuries that followed Tibet disintegrated into many small kingdoms.

 

MAHAMUDRA

While Tibet was plunged into chaos, there were developments in India that would be keenly important to Tibetan Buddhism. The Indian sage Tilopa (989-1069) developed a system of meditation and practice called Mahamudra. Mahamudra is, very simply, a methodology for understanding the intimate relation between mind and reality.

Tilopa transmitted the teachings of Mahamudra to his disciple, another Indian sage named Naropa (1016-1100).

 

MARPA AND MILAREPA

Marpa Chokyi Lodro (1012-1097) was a Tibetan who traveled to India and studied with Naropa. After years of study, Marpa ​was declared a dharma heir of Naropa. He returned to Tibet, bringing with him Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit that Marpa translated into Tibetan. Hence, is he called “Marpa the Translator.”

Marpa’s most famous student was Milarepa (1040-1123), who is remembered especially for his beautiful songs and poems.

One of Milarepa’s students, Gampopa (1079-1153), founded the Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

 

THE SECOND DISSEMINATION

The great Indian scholar Dipamkara Shrijnana Atisha (ca. 980-1052) came to Tibet by invitation of King Jangchubwo.

At the request of the King, Atisha wrote a book for the king’s subjects called Byang-chub lam-gyi sgron-ma, or “Lamp to the Path of Enlightenment.”

Although Tibet was still politically fragmented, Atisha’s arrival in Tibet in 1042 marked the beginning of what is called the “Second Dissemination” of Buddhism in Tibet. Through Atisha’s teachings and writings, Buddhism once again became the main religion of the people of Tibet.

SAKYAS AND MONGOLS

In 1073, Khon Konchok Gyelpo (1034-l 102) built Sakya Monastery in southern Tibet. His son and successor, Sakya Kunga Nyingpo, founded the Sakya sect, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

In 1207, Mongol armies invaded and occupied Tibet. In 1244, Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyeltsen (1182-1251), a Sakya master was invited to Mongolia by Godan Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan.

Through Sakya Pandita’s teachings, Godon Khan became a Buddhist. In 1249, Sakya Pandita was appointed Viceroy of Tibet by the Mongols.

In 1253, Phagba (1235-1280) succeeded Sakya Pandita at the Mongol court. Phagba became a religious teacher to Godan Khan’s famous successor, Kublai Khan. In 1260, Kublai Khan named Phagpa the Imperial Preceptor of Tibet. Tibet would be ruled by a succession of Sakya lamas until 1358 when central Tibet came under control of the Kagyu sect.

 

THE FOURTH SCHOOL: GELUG

The last of the four great schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelug school, was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), one of Tibet’s greatest scholars. The first Gelug monastery, Ganden, was founded by Tsongkhapa in 1409.

The third head lama of the Gelug school, Sonam Gyatso (1543-1588) converted the Mongol leader Altan Khan to Buddhism. It is commonly believed that Altan Khan originated the title Dalai Lama, meaning “Ocean of Wisdom,” in 1578 to give to Sonam Gyatso. Others point out that since gyatso is Tibetan for “ocean,” the title “Dalai Lama” simply might have been a Mongol translation of Sonam Gyatso’s name — Lama Gyatso.

In any event, “Dalai Lama” became the title of the highest-ranking lama of the Gelug school. Since Sonam Gyatso was the third lama in that lineage, he became the 3rd Dalai Lama. The first two Dalai Lamas received the title posthumously.

It was the 5th Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682), who first became ruler of all Tibet. The “Great Fifth” formed a military alliance with the Mongol leader Gushri Khan. When two other Mongol chiefs and the ruler of Kang, an ancient kingdom of central Asia, invaded Tibet, Gushri Khan routed them and declared himself king of Tibet. In 1642, Gushri Khan recognized the 5th Dalai Lama as the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet.

Tibet, for its remote geographical location, has grown its own distinct ways of keeping things running, but of course with a lot of influences from the neighbouring countries such as Nepal, India and China, but still Tibet’s remoteness has help preserve Tibetan culture as it was.

 

Generally speaking, from April to October are the best time to visit Tibet, as in these months, we have a warmer and beautiful climate. Choosing the best season to travel to Tibet mainly depends on the tour you are interested in. If you are interested in Mt.Everest Tours, the best time to visit would be in May, June, September and early October. In these months, EBC is comparatively less windy and clear, blue skies allow you to view the mighty peak of Mt. Everest from the Everest Base Camp. If you are interested in Mt. Kailash and far Western part of Tibetan plateau, then May, June, July and September is the best time to travel. In these months it is warmer and you will have no rain during your Kailash trekking days; you will also have the opportunity to see local pilgrims doing the Kora (trek). If you are interested in experiencing Tibetan festivals, then August is the best time to travel, in which there are numbers of popular festivals both ritual and cultural celebrated in Tibet. and best time for Trekking in Tibet is from May to Sept.
However, having a winter tour from November to February can be an unique experiences if you are interested to experience local activity and culture. by travel Tibet during the winter, you can avoid the tourist crowds and costs are comparatively much cheaper. Nevertheless, you can experience the mass of local pilgrims around the monasteries and temples, because winter is a best travel season for Tibetan pilgrims.

Festivals

Location

Date 2018

Tibetan Losar (New Year)

Tibet

9th Feb

Great Prayer Festival

Lhasa

22nd Feb

Saga Dawa

Tibet

7th – 21st May

Drigung Dil Thangka Display

Drigung Dil

1st June

Gyantse Damag (Horse Racing)

Gyantse

19th July

Tashi Lunpo Thangka Display

Shigatse

17th July

Zamling Chisang/Samye Dodei

Samye

19th July

Yangpachen religion Dance

Yangpachen

1st August

Ganden Thangka Display

Ganden

18th August

Shoton Festival

Lhasa

1st – 7th Sept

Bathing Festival

Tibet

8th – 14th Sept

Buddha’s Descent Festival

Tibet

20th Nov

Kongpo / Purang New Year

Bayi/ Purang

30th Nov

Butter Lamp Festival

Lhasa

23d Dec

Enter box title

Losar; ( 1st – 15th Day 0f 1st Month of Tibetan Calender)

Losar is the Tibetan word for “ New Year”. Tibetan New Year is a very special festival to celebrate in Tibet and it is also the most-awaited festival for all the Tibetans without any difference in age or gender.

On the eve night of the year, Tibetans clean all the negative obstacles, sickness and bad spirits from their house and then they pray for a prosperous new year ahead. This eve night is also known as, Nyi-shu-Gu.

In most places in Tibet, Losar usually celebrated around 15 days, for the 1st 3 days are the main events where, Tibetans go to the Temples and Monasteries & other 12 days will be celebrated with their relatives and family friends.

On the 1st day of the Losar is considered as the Lama Losar, from the very early morning, people well dressed with their traditional customs and with all the family members together they enjoy Changkol (a hot beverage made mainly from Channg & dry Cheese with some sugar). After the early breakfast, they go to the temples and monasteries to have a healthy new year.

2nd Day is the Gyalpo’s Losar or King’s Losar, traditionally it is the day for paying tribute to the Kings and leaders in Tibet.

3rd Day is also known as the Choekyong Losar, the day for offering the gratitude towards the protectors or the deities, by raising the prayer flags on the top of the sacred hills, changing the prayer flags of their home and offering the good smiles by burning junipers and incense.

The Losar in Tibet is the most special festivals for Tibetans and if you are able to make your Tibet Tour during that time of the year, you will be enjoying the Tibetan culture & traditions and will be a witness by experience the real life of Tibetans.

The Great Prayer Festival; (15th Day 0f 1st Month of Tibetan Calendar)

The Great Prayer Festival in Tibetan is known as Lhasa Monlam Chenmo, which festival was established by the Tsong Khapa in the 14th Century. The main purpose of this Great Prayer Festival is to pray for the long life of all the great gurus and for the world peace.

During that time, thousands of monks from Drepung, Sera and Ganden gathered for the chanting prayers and performs religious rituals at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. At that time also, they recruited the Ganden Tripa or the Throne Holder of Ganden Monastery, who is also the abbot. Also all the monk canditates for the Doctoratine in Buddhism Philosophy held debates and then offer the rank of Doctoratine and masters according to their examination performance.

Saga Dawa Festival (1st – 30th of 4th Month)

The Saga Dawa month is most special spiritual month in Tibet, all the Buddhists are believing that, if we do good things, then we will have a double result of good things and if we are doing some bad things during this month, it will again double it. The Main reason behind is, historically in during the Saga Dawa makes the date of Buddha Sakyamuni’s conception of Being birthed, Enlight from the salvation & entry into Nirvana. People are very active in doing all the positive deeds and also going for pilgrimage to accumulate merits. Most of the Tibetan People during that day skip eating meat and at least for the 1st day of the month to the full moon.

Shoton Festival; ( 15th – 24th of 5th Month)

“Sho” in Tibetan means the Yoghurt & “Ton” means Banquet, it is a very wonderful festival and you can consider this 1st day of the festival as the vegetarian day, because on this 1st of the festival, people will take only the vegetarian meals only.

This Festival in Tibet was started mainly during the 17th century by the Great 5th Dalai Lama, during that time, the lay people of Tibet from the Nomadic area, offered the Yoghurt to the Dalai Lama and the monks, as most of the monks during that time, they are starting to go to retreat for 30 days to avoid killing the summer insects and to pray for them to receive a better life in the next life.

Later, this Yoghurt festival had added so many activities like, Tibetan opera dance and these days, we are celebrating the festival for one week from the 15th to 24th of the 5th month of Tibetan Calender. Usually it comes in the mid of August or beginning of August.

The festival is beginning in the very early morning by displaying the Big Thankga at Drepung Monastery & Sera Monastery, in the after the Tibetan opera dance will be performed. Travelers, if you are looking forward to visit Tibet during this time of the year, you should be there at Sera & Drepung Monastery in the very early morning and then, you can visit the Norbu Lingka Palace in the Afternoon.

Zamling Chisang; Samye Dodei; (15th day of 5th month);

On the 15th day of 5th Month is the most special festival in Tibet. Back to the 8th Centurary, the Great Scholar Padmadsambava bind all the Bon’s Spirits under the commitment, and finally able to build the Samye Monastery. As the celebrating of this occasion offered lots of incense on the top of Hipo Ri Hill, which is in front of Samye Monastery and this special occasion had celebrated for 1,300 years in Samye and Tibetan area.

Bathing Festival ( 7th Day – 13th Day of 7th Month);

On this Starlit night Tibetans take a ceremonial bath in the waters of their local rivers and springs. This is a seductive and tranquil festival in Tibet. The Festival celebrates for one week from the 7th Day of 7th Month. It’s believed that people who took a bath during that time, will not get diseases and physically become very strong, especially as they will not get the cold during winter time in Tibet.

Butter Lamp Festival (25th Day of 10th Month);

Memorial Services Festival of the Great Scholar Tsongapa, who had founded the Gelukpa sect and also a great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism. In the oldern Days, the Barkhor Square turns into a grand exhibition site for Huge “Tormas” sculpted from the butter in the form of various auspicious symbols and lamps. All the Tibetans will be reciting mantras and prostrating around the Jokhang Temple.

The Harvest Festival in Tibet;

The Harvest Festival in Tibet is called a Wongkor festival in Tibetan. This festival in Tibet is very popular in all the farming areas of Tibet. During the time of Pudi Kongyal, the 9th king of Tibet and his minister Ruleikye agriculture developed significantly as they paid great importance to it. The Bon followers walked around fields and prayed for good harvest and slowly it became a folk festival in Tibet. So it has a history of at least more than 1,000 years. The main reason why Tibetans celebrate the festival is that they are wishing and praying that they can overcome all the natural disasters and enjoy the good harvest of the year.

The time of this festival is different from all the places in Tibet due to climate differences and also due to the differences of its elevation. When they celebrate this festival, people wear new clothes and carry Buddhist scriptures on their backs.

Besides walking around the fields, there are other some different activities like horse and Yak races and performances of Tibetan opera dance and circle dance as well. On the day, all the people in the farming village get up very early morning and they collect some crops from the field and offer them to the three jewels as the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. They also make offerings to the Naga or water spirits and the local land gods and pray that there will be a good harvest in the coming year. It is also the Thanking celebration for the local and Naga or water spirits that they had a very good harvesting year.

When the celebration is over people enjoy good food, drinks, singing and dancing with their families and villagers. They also invite their relatives and friends to enjoy this great festival together.

The Most Popular Tours

Small Group Tours