Lying in southern Tibet, also known as Shannan, Tsetang is the fourth largest city in Tibet and is about 183 km southeast of Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Tsetang has been the capital of the Yarlung Valley since antiquity and was the seat of the ancient emperors of Tibet. It is reputed as the birthplace of Tibetan Civilization because of its several magnificent “Firsts of Tibet”: the first Tibetan tribe of ancient times, the first slavery regime, the first palace, the first monastery of Tibetan Buddhism…

At an elevation of 3,100 m above sea level, Tsetang becomes now a new popular scenic for the visitors, because of its rich culture and the most representative scenery including snowy mountains, lakes, hot springs, canyons, grasslands, high mountains, and virgin forests. After your arrival at Gonggar International Airport, you can take your private car to get to this region. But please pay attention: there are some simple hotels or guesthouses.

Yumbulagang Palace:

Yumbu Lakhang stands on a hill on the eastern bank of the Yarlung River in the Yarlung Valley about 9 kilometers south of Tsetang. According to the legend, it was probably the first palace in Tibet and was built for the first Tibetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo in the 2nd B.C. It became the summer palace of the 33rd Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo (604-650 AD), and his Chinese princess, Wencheng until the capital was moved to Lhasa. A thousand years later, during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-82), the palace was turned into a monastery for the Gelugpa school.

Being on a fairly steep peak, vehicles cannot travel to the entrance of the palace. You must therefore be prepared for about half an hour of somewhat steep walking, but it all depends on the physical conditions at this altitude. Otherwise, locals offer the traditional excursions on horseback which allow you not tired and to enjoy the trip.

Samye Monastery:

The Samye Monastery was built by the great Buddhist master Padmasambhava in the reign of the Tibetan King Trisong Detsen (742-798). Seven descendants of the royal family were cultivated in the monastery and became the first group of Buddhist monks. Since then, Buddhism had become widespread within Tibet and forms a branch of splendid culture.

As the first monastery built in Tibet and the first complete with the three Buddhist jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, its whole construction is very grandiose and complicated. Built on the basis of a mandala with an area of 9ha, the monastery is divided into several buildings including the Wuze Palace and its 6000m² of surface area on three levels. All of the layers follow different styles, the bottom Tibetan, the middle Han, and the top Indian. In the four corners lie the Red, White, Black, and Green Pagodas guarding the Dharma like the Heavenly Kings. A circular wall surrounds the monastery as if marking the periphery of the world.

Trandruk Monastery:

Situated on the southern slope of Mt. Gangpo Ri about two kilometers from the Tsedang Town, the Trandruk Monastery was built during the reign of Emperor Songtsen Gampo (617-650). Later on, it belonged to the Gelugpa School of Buddhism, also known as the Yellow Hat Sect.

The Pearl Thangka in the Trandruk Monastery is the most renowned and precious. About two meters long and one meter wide, this unique scroll painting features more than 29,000 pearls, 2,000 coral beads, 180 turquoises, and other precious stones including two rubies, one diamond, and one sapphire. The room housing the precious Thangka is closed during the off-season. If you wish to see the Thangka at this time, you can ask the Monastery’s management to open the room.

Mindrolling Monastery:

Covering a large area of over 100,000 square meters, it is one of the six great monasteries of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. It was established in 1676 by a grand lama, 40 kilometers from Tsetang on the south bank of the Yarling Tsangpo River. This monastic university trains Nyingma scholars and yogis from all over Tibet. At Mindroling, the emphasis was on the study of Buddhist scriptures, Tibetan astronomy and lunar calendar, calligraphy, rhetoric, and traditional Tibetan medicine.

Surrounded by a fortified enclosure, his main hall is Lakhang Buddhist Hall. Lakhang Buddhist Hall has three stories. The Main Assembly Hall is on the first floor, the second floor has five small Buddhist Halls and monks’ residences, and the third floor has another two Buddhist halls. While strolling, you can find several exhibition rooms where you can admire superb statues, relics, mandalas, or even sacred texts.

Useful information

SiteSamye MonasteryYumbulagang PalaceTandruk MonasteryMindroling Monastery
Chinese name桑耶寺雍布拉康昌珠寺敏竹林寺
Opening time09h00-16h0009h00-18h0009h00-16h0009h00-18h00
Price40 RMB/per30 RMB/per35 RMB/per20 RMB/per
Duration of visit1-2 hrs1-2 hrs2-3 hrs1-2 hrs

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