Tibet – a photojournal

I could wax lyrical about this place until the cows come home, but what they say about a picture speaking a thousand words is so true when it comes to Tibet. Here are some photos from the 6 days I spent there. If you’re moderately interested in visiting this jewel of a place, now is the time – the Chinese are constructing up a storm there and I fear it won’t be the same for much longer.

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These 2 ladies had just finished a circuit around Potala Palace and were having a breather. Many local Tibetans start the day by either doing the Kora around Jokhang Temple, or by walking around Potala Palace – a walk surrounded by prayer wheels and burning incense.

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Potala Palace: Its the seat of the Tibetan government and the former home of the current Dalai Llama who now seeks refuge in India. The place is massive! It’s a maze of different monasteries, prayer rooms, assembly halls and stupas. The remains of a number of previous Llamas can be found in here too, enclosed in gigantic golden tombs.

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Potala Palace as seen from Jokhang Temple.

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Many Tibetans prostrate themselves to show their devotion to Buddhism. This lady was circuiting Potala Palace by doing this: standing upright, then lying down completely, and repeating this until she had circled the entire Palace. It must have been so difficult to do, but so many people do it, of varying ages.

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More people prostrating themselves near the Jokhang Temple.

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Inside the Jokhang Temple. Gold roofs everywhere. Really interesting temple with so much to see inside. You’ll need a good afternoon to appreciate it all.

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Some monk apartments at the Drepung Monastery, just outside Lhasa.

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The monks at the Drepung Monastery gather in the morning to chant and debate.

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The resident cook at the Drepung Monastery preparing food for the monks. Feeding hundreds of monks isn’t a simple affair. The kitchen is huge and is humming with activity.

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Some pilgrims at the Drepung Monastery spinning prayer wheels on their way to and from the temples.

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Another pilgrim armed with the mandatory prayer beads and offerings for the monks.

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This lady circuited the prayer wheels endlessly. I admire her devotion.

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Monks debating at the Sera Monastery. I expected this to be a quiet affair but its nothing of the sort. There’s a lot of shouting and clapping. The man standing poses a question to the man sitting and every time the man standing counters an argument made by the man sitting, he claps his hands. It’s awesome to watch!

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More debating.

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Bakhor Street in downtown Lhasa. This is the route of the Kora – a religious circuit made by the Tibetans.

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More people walking the Kora. This goes on all day, every day. Some people will circuit this multiple times a day.

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I saw this lay at both the Drepung Monastery and at the Jokhang Temple on the same day, either spinning prayer wheels or doing the Kora. Devotion at its best. She always had a huge smile on her face too!

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Another committed pilgrim.

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We ventured outside Lhasa, up into the mountains. This photo is taken midway up the Kampa La Pass enroute to Yamdrok Lake.

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Yamdrok Lake – on a clear day, you’ll be able to see a number of 6 and 7 thousand metre peaks in the distance.

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Another shot of Yamdrok Lake – the mountains are trying to peak out in the distance.

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As beautiful as this lake is, it’s not natural. It was constructed to store water for a hydroelectric plant a few kilometres from here. The water is a stunning turquoise colour.

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A lady selling souvenirs on the roadside.

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Another souvenir seller. She had such a cool vibe about her.

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More mountains enroute to Shigatse.

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Tashi Lhunpo monastery in Shigatse – used to be the largest monastery before the Chinese cultural revolution, housing some 10,000 monks. Today, hardly even 500.

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A small town called Gyantse, home to one of the most authentic monasteries I visited called Palkhor Choede.

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A monk walking by – not an uncommon sight in Tibet.

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