Sakya Monastery, also known as dPal Sa skya or Pel Sakya is a Buddhist monastery situated 25 km southeast of a bridge which is about 127 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri in Tibet.
The seat of the Sakya or Sakyapa school of Tibetan Buddhism, it was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo originally a Nyingmapa monk of the powerful noble family of the Tsang and became the first Sakya Trizin. Its powerful abbots governed Tibet during the whole of the 13th century after the downfall of the kings until they were eclipsed by the rise of the new Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Its Mongolian architecture is quite different from that of temples in Lhasa and Yarlung. The only surviving ancient building is the Lhakang Chempo or Sibgon Trulpa. Originally a cave in the mountainside, it was built in 1268 by Ponchen Sakya Sangpo in 1268 and restored in the 16th century. It contains some of the most magnificent surviving artwork in all of Tibet, which appears not to have been damaged in recent times. The Gompa grounds cover more than 18,000 square metres, while the huge main hall covers some 6,000 square metres.
Most of the buildings of the monastery are in ruins, because they were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
As to the great library of Sakya, it is on shelves along the walls of the great hall of the Lhakhang chen-po. There are preserved here many volumes written in gold letters; the pages are six feet long by eighteen inches in breadth. In the margin of each page are illuminations and the first four volumes have in them pictures of the thousand Buddhas. These books are bound in iron. They were prepared under orders of the Emperor Kublai Khan, and presented to the Phagpa lama on his second visit to Beijing.
There is also preserved in this temple a conch shell with whorls turning from left to right, a present from Kublai to Phagpa. It is only blown by the Lamas when the request is accompanied by a present of seven ounces of silver; but to blow it, or have it blown, is held to be an act of great merit. Huge library of as many as 84,000 scrolls were found sealed up in a wall 60 metres long and 10 metres high at Sakya Monastery in 2003. It is expected that most of them will prove to be Buddhist scriptures although they may well also include works of literature, and on history, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and art. They are thought to have remained untouched for hundreds of years. They are being examined by the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences.
Day 01: Arrive in Tsetang
Upon arriving at Gongga Airport, meet your Tibetan guide and transfer to hotel in Tsetang (90 km). Located in the southeast of Lhasa, Tsetang is 3,500 meters high. It was said the legendary ancestors of Tibetans, a monkey (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in the shape of a monkey) and his wife a Dakhini once lived on the Gongpori Mountain in the east of the city. And so the city of Tsetang is regarded as the “Playground of Monkeys” and the Tibetans as the descended of the Monkey. In terms of geography, the fertile valleys of Yarlung and Chongye here are appropriate for development of Tibetan civilization; there were once numerous temples, shrines and Stupas in this area. Besides, Chonggye is the birthplace of the 5th Dalai Lama (1617-1682). Stay at the hotel for adapting to the high altitude. It is helpful to take things easy for the first few days, and try to drink some water. Overnight at 3 star Yulong Holiday Hotel.
Day 02: Tsetang BL
At first, visit monastery Samye. Located in the north of Yarlung Tsangpo River and hold in the arms of mountains, it is the oldest monastery of Tibet (8th century). The stele hanging on the entrance to the main temple shows that king Trisong Detsen took Buddhism as the state religion in 779. The monastery complex consists of several buildings, whose arrangement reflects the Buddhist conception of the structure of the universe. In the afternoon we make a trip to visit the Yumbulakhang, a castle built in the 7th and 8th centuries during the time of the first Tibetan kings. It is far viewed that the castle is high on the rock hills and looks brightly white. The original fortress is now converted into a chapel; in the ground floor there is a shrine in honor of the early kings. The steps up are steep but it is worthy because on the top of the hill you can far view the valley and the surrounding mountain. Overnight at 3 star Yulong Holiday Hotel.
Day 03: Tsetang – Lhasa BL
After breakfast drive to Lhasa (3650m), the capital of Tibet. On the way visit Mindrolin Monastery. It 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 Nyingma Sect. The monastery has paid attention to the research of Buddhist classics, 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. Overnight at 3 star Thangka Hotel.
Day 04: Lhasa BL
In the morning visit Potala which was originally constructed in 637 by Songtsen Gampo, the first king of the united Tibet. It later expanded and served as the winter residence for the Dalai Lamas as well as the religious-political nexus of traditional Tibet. The crowds of pilgrims, innumerable magnificent murals, Buddhist statues, scriptures and rare treasures altogether create a dense religious and art atmosphere that impresses every visitor. In the afternoon, visit Jokhang monastery. It’s the center of the Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred land of Buddhist followers which is visited by thousands of pilgrims come for worship every day. The temple, built in 647, is the earliest wood-and-masonry structure still existing in Tibet. Walk on the Barkhor street surrounding Jokhang, a big free market with its prolific stalls for selling local specialties. Overnight at 3 star Thangka Hotel.
Day 05: Lhasa BL
In the morning visit Drepung monastery the sacred land of Gelug Sect., which was established in 1416 and the second, third and fourth Dalai Lama once resided in. Afterwards visit Norbulinka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas. In the afternoon visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As roses are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. The "Buddhism Scriptures Debate" in Sera is very famous. Overnight at 3 star Thangka Hotel.
Day 06: Lhasa BL
In the morning drive to visit Ganden Monastery, which was built by Tsongkhaba in present-day Dagaze County to the east of Lhasa in 1409 soon after the Monlam Festival was over. Ganden is one of the three main monasteries of Gelug Sect. Anyhow, different from Drepung and Sera, it once played a more prominent political role in Tibetan history. The abbot of this monastery possess of a high religious position within the system of Gelug Sect, just inferior to Dalai and Panchan. The monastery was reconstructed in 1993 and restored its original appearance. The holy stupa of Tsongkhaba is just in the monastery. On the way visit the Dark Yerpa Monastery, where you’ll visit the famous ancient meditation caves in the spectacular limestone cliffs of the Yerpa Valley. Overnight at 3 star Thangka Hotel.
Day 07: Lhasa – Nam Tso – Lhasa BL
In the morning drive to Nam Tso Lake along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway. Pass by the 5,150-meter Lhachen La and reach the Nam Tso or Tengri Nor (heaven lake in Mongolian language) along the newly paved way and set up camp at Tashi Dorie peninsula. Nam Tso, the biggest salty lake of Tibet, is 70 kilometers long from east to west and 30 kilometers wide from north to south, covering an area of 1,920 square kilometers with an altitude of 4,700 meters above sea level. It is said the holy lake and the holy mountain Nyenchentangla are a couple of lovers, who altogether guard the vast pasture and cattle. Explore the Tashi peninsula by walking around the holy hill, the cliffs of which have eroded over the centuries. On the way piles of mani stones stand. Also visit the nomads in yak hair tents who have been living on the pastures between the holy Nam Tso and Nyenchentangla. Drive back to Lhasa. Overnight at 3 star Thangka Hotel.
Day 08: Lhasa – Yamdrok Lake – Gyantse BL
Drive to Gyantse. On the Kamba La (4796 m) have a fantastic view of the holy lake Yamdrok (4,441 m), one of the three holy lakes in Tibet and the largest habitat of waterfowls in south Tibet. On arriving, visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby, both of them built in the 15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse. This typical Tibetan Buddhist monastery is the only one large building complex in Tibet that old monastery and stupas are completely preserved and characterized as a monument. It is recorded that 14,000 kilograms of copper were used to make the 8-meter-high sitting statue of Sakyamuni Buddha housed in the grand hall of the temple. The 8-storey stupa is 42m high and 62m in diameters contains a total of 76 chapels with wonderful murals revered by art scholars around the world. Overnight at 3 star Gyantse Hotel.
Day 09: Gyantse – Shalu Monastery – Shigatse BL
Drive to Shalu monastery, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Shigatse, is a perfect combination of Han and Tibet architectural styles. It was built in 1087 by Jigzun Xerab Qoinnyai. Then drive to Shigatse (3,880 m), the second largest city with 40,000 inhabitants in Tibet and the traditional capital of the Tsang. In the afternoon visit Tashilunpo monastery of Gelug Sect, the seat of the Panchen Lama built in 1447 and one of the six grand monasteries in Tibet. The monastery houses a giant statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the biggest gilded statue of Maitreya (Buddha of the future) in China, and a tomb of the 4th Panchen Lama containing masses of jewels and gold. In Tibet Buddhism, Panchen Lama is just the reincarnation of Maitreya Buddha. Overnight at 3 star Manasarovar Hotel.
Day 10: Shigatse – Sakya – Shegar BLD
In the morning drive to Sakya Monastery (4.280 m), the master monastery of the Striped Sect; it is well famed with its long history, large-scale construction complex and great influence in Tibet history. Its North Monastery was built in 1073 and named Sakya (meaning “gray” in Tibetan) as it was situated on a gray mountain. What we see today is the Sakya South Monastery built in 1269 by Phagpa. The outside walls of the monastery were painted with red, white and gray, symbolizing Avalokitesvara, Manjushri and Vajrapani. Then drive over Yalung La (4,520 m) and Gyathso La (5,220 m) to Shegar (new Tingri; 4.350 m; approx. 245 km). Overnight at 2 star Qomolangma Shanghai Hotel.
Day 11: Shegar – Rongbuk BLD
In the morning drive to Rongbuk. With an altitude of 5,030 meters it is the highest temple in the world. It was said the Rongbuk Monastery had been built as early as the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Mount Everest, which stands 8,848 meters (29,021 ft) above sea level, is often referred to as 'the third pole on earth'. Being the world's highest peak, its legendary status holds a fascination to many trekkers and mountaineers. We walk 7 km to the Base Camp and do some sightseeing there. Walking or drive by local shuttle bus back to Rongbuk. Overnight at simple Guanjingtai Guesthouse
Day 12: Rongbuk – Shegar – Shigatse BL
In the morning walk and go sightseeing around Rongbuk. Then drive back via Shegar to Shigatse, on the way visit the Phuntsoling Monastery of Jonangpa sect near Lhatse. Overnight at 3 star Mansarovar Hotel
Day 13: Shigatse – Lhasa BL
In the morning drive back to Lhasa. Overnight at 3 star Thangka Hotel.
Day 14: Leave Tibet B
Transfer to the airport or the railway station to leave Tibet.