On Tibet

On_Tibet

It was about five in the morning when our car loaded with cement, the night Garmudu moved to the mountains. In the still dark sky is not Therefore our stars shone brightly. Cold to the bone even in the cockpit, and our driver turned on the heating Shen. Travel to Tibet, to which my friend and I, while on a scientific internship in Beijing, preparing for several months, began.

Tibet – capacious concept. Geographers call because the Tibetan plateau, which is bordered by a chain of the highest mountains; It is a combination of flat plains height of 4-5 thousand meters from the ridge height of 6-7 thousand meters, and occupies a large part of Central Asia (about 2 million sq. km). As the administrative unit of Tibet is one of the five autonomous regions of China, which includes only part of what is considered Tibet geography; approximately 4 million Tibetans live only about half. But all this – the subject of interest of experts, as a simple tourist draws some Tibet, especially its southern regions adjacent to the Himalayas, where the capital of Lamaism Lhasa, some other religious and cultural centers of the Tibetans. It was there and we were going to go. It would be wrong to assert that all my life I dreamed of traveling to Tibet. Its remoteness, exceptionally harsh environmental conditions, and the fact that Tibet is almost always (as in the XX century. And above) for various reasons, was closed not only for foreigners but also for the Chinese people – all this made the journey to Tibet no more real than a walk with J. Cousteau underwater caves or visit the South Pole. But, going to China, I learned that Tibet became accessible, and since that time the idea of ​​going back would not let me rest. And when it turned out that my friend is thinking about, we began to gather.

From the central regions of China to Lhasa are two highways: from the east – from the city of Chengdu (prov. Sichuan), and from the north – from the city Garmud (prov. Of Qinghai) – the destination railway Xining – Garmud. You can get to Lhasa and the plane, but it’s not interesting, but not very cheap. We decided to go through Garmud.

Tibetan Plateau, we have seen almost our train broke through a series of tunnels, finally got on the plain. Outside the windows of the car dry steppes is increasingly becoming a semi-desert, which in some places replaced the black pebbles. Nearby grazed huge (a calf) sheep, which took care of the little shepherds riding on horses. Left in the haze flashed strip of water, and soon our train ran along the vast – the coast to be seen – Qinghai Lake (Qinghai), whose water was the color of the sky. At the stations, there was a brisk trade in fish is not known to me the rock. Bought and my friend a couple of fried fishes and regretted that few have – very tasty!

In Garmud we arrived in the evening and went to one of the many here is whether the depot, or inn to seek transportation to Lhasa. Pretty soon it became clear that: 1) free trucks coming to Lhasa, No; 2) Bus go there only a day, and tickets for him, too, no; 3) there are no places in the same hotel are here. The case went to the night, and the prospect of sleeping on the street is good. But fate was merciful to us: young female receptionist still decided to shelter us, and closer to the night in our room there was a tall young man, and said that one day he will carry on his truck cement in Lhasa and is ready to take us with him – two of them in the cockpit there is enough room. It was Shen – our good angel, who has done a lot to our trip was a success and it was interesting. Prior to his departure remained night and in the morning we went to inspect Garmud. This small town, located in semi-desert terrain at an altitude of 3.5 thousand meters at the intersection of roads leading to different parts of Tibet. His birth he apparently due to the construction in the early 50s on the highway to Lhasa. One is struck by a large number of visitors, mostly Tibetans, who are concentrated in the carpool, and often spread out their tents on the street. In Garmude well it felt as much to modern Tibet car. The driver here – a figure very respected.

Dawns. The road on which we were traveling, gradually crept into the dry canyon. We were joined by several trucks – Tibet drivers try not to travel alone. The reason for this became clear in the evening, when we went up to pass through the ridge Thang, we have a flat rear tire, and Shen companions helped him quickly to change. Alone, he could not handle, and then we threatened overnight under the pass, and the nights in Tibet fierce.

Highway from Lhasa to Garmuda – it stretches about 800 km -prolozheno on the plateau (average elevation of about 4000 m), which rises a few steps in the direction from north to south and out to the ridge Thang (length of about 700 km, altitude 6000 m). Since it originated such great rivers of Asia as the Yangtze, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Salween. Over the ridge canyons and mountain valleys road goes to Lhasa. The steps are these connected passes, which, however, bears little resemblance to the passes of the Great Caucasus (Pass through Tenglu other type).

The very well maintained highway, from time to time come across small villages – perhaps working on the road. Later in the afternoon, at the entrance to the ridge Thang, we stopped at one of them. To the right of the road ran along a small river pebbles, and behind it walked yaks. “This is the Yangtze,” – explained to us Shen. So it kind of had its cradle, the largest river in China, hundreds of kilometers from the mouth accessible to ocean-going vessels!

Tangle crossed at dusk. All went well, although our driver and warned that it would be difficult to breathe (the height of the pass about 5.5 thousand m). We drove all night, barely persuaded Shen nap in the cab a couple of hours. In the morning, we were surprised: at the crossroads, where he was on the turn signal Lhasa, Shen suddenly announced that he was carrying a cement not to Lhasa and in Xigaze, and offered us a ride with him – anyway because travel. We, of course, agreed.

By mid-afternoon we went to the beach is not very big, but a powerful and deep river, which is running up at the sleeves, then re-merge into a single stream, worked her way south along the wide, white sand lined valley. This was the Brahmaputra – one of the largest rivers of India.

Approached the pontoon, we crossed to the other side and along the river rushed to the ultimate goal of our trip – the city of Shigatse.

Shigatse is located at the mouth of the river Nian-chu, the right tributary of the Brahmaputra, and is the second-largest Tibetan city (about 50 thousand inhabitants). Through him, the road goes to Nepal, very near the border. In Shigatse is built in the middle of the XV century. a disciple of the famous reformer Tsongkhapa Buddhist monastery Jeong-Lunbu, the seat of the second most important church hierarch Lamaist panchen Lama.

The road runs through the rich with good spacious houses of the village. The yard was spring, and people were busy in the fields. When to Xigaze it was still quite far ahead loomed something like a large screen that was set on a hill overlooking the valley. As it turned out, he is in the territory of the monastery complex, and is intended for a picture with the image of Buddha, which is stretched on the screen during the holidays.

Shigatse seemed very clean and well-kept town, central part of which is built up by low type of modern houses.

From Shigatse we were leaving early in the morning. Again arrived at the monastery, it was still closed. But the people under its walls markedly increased. Take pictures a bit, we went to Lhasa.

We came back the other way – one that has long linked the two cities. When the end of the day we drove to Lhasa, I realized that compared to this road that on which we arrived in Shigatse – Autobahn. It is here that Tibet has shown us his temper. But the attractive tourist places here much longer.

From the valley of the Brahmaputra river valleys and gorges road goes into the mountains. Here, at an altitude of 5.5 thousand meters above a valley like a large crystal, it hangs a huge, fabulous, shining in the sun glacier. Then the road goes to the largest freshwater lake in Tibet Yamdok-Tso (Yanchzhoyun xy) – about 300 kilometers in circumference. On the shore of the lake, we drove more than two hours. From a road climbs steeply up again (about 6 thousand meters) and from there begins a long, with many bizarre twists down to the valley Ki-chu, where Lhasa.

Mountain roads pose as much a surprise, they not only endows the traveler unique landscape, but also cause jittery. So, I jumped out of another gorge, we almost collided with oncoming traffic. Shen braked sharply, and our car, swaying, hanging over the river, which was running far below. Later on, up the lake, we nearly tumbled down.

Yet in the late afternoon we unharmed, got out near the center of Lhasa from the cabin, said goodbye to our Shenem, got out from the crowd of beggars and curious and went to look for housing. Immediately reminded of itself highlands – breathe badly, and his legs were moving with difficulty: in the cab, where we spent almost three days, it was much more comfortable.

We settled down quite easily. It was a small, very modest hotel in the center of the city, which brought together under one roof rather motley group of representatives of various peoples and countries of people of different ages. Built in Lhasa luxury Intourist hotel where one day you have to pay as much as an ordinary Chinese person gets a half months, trying to circumvent the ordinary tourist. Several acclimate my friend and I took the hotel bicycles and explore the city.

Lhasa (Country gods) is located in the valley of the River Ki-chu (Happy River), a tributary of the Brahmaputra, at an altitude of 3650 m. Here the high mountains, to shield the valley from the north and south of the river recede. The climate in the valley completely different than on the plateau, softer. In March, when we were in Lhasa, the daytime temperature rose to 180, but the nights were very cold. Lhasa is suffering from the summer rains, it quite regularly heat a little overflowing Ki-chu. A fall and spring dry and sunny.

According to legend Lhasa was founded in the middle of VII century. Tibetan king Srontszangambo and was formed as an important center of the northern branch of Buddhism. Later it becomes the seat of the head of the Lamaist church of the Dalai Lama; Here there are also the main shrine of the religion. Currently, Lhasa – the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The city looks quite modern, the main part of the building – a two-storey home is relatively recent construction; the old Lhasa, except that is directly related to Lamaism, there are relatively few. The face of the current Lhasa increasingly define the university complex, which stands in a park on the banks of Ki-chu, post office, bus and air terminals of the building, hotel, concert halls, restaurants, TV Tower, which stands on a rock in front of the Potala. City well-maintained and clean.

In the center of Lhasa, a small square and adjoining streets is the city market. Especially the rich, he did not seem to us. It is mostly traded edible – cakes, meat and vegetables. In the morning, if you do not oversleep, you can buy excellent ryazhenka (apparently from yak milk). Quite a lot of the local market “exotic”: daggers, semi-precious stones, skins of wild animals, old coins, various crafts made of stone, metal or wood. All of this is designed to Intourist.Although when we were there, it was clearly more sellers than buyers, prices is influenced little.

The bulk of the inhabitants of Lhasa (about 100 thousand) – Tibetans, although quite a few Chinese. And all the names of institutions, as well as the inscriptions on the bus stops and other public places are given in Tibetan and Chinese.Talking in English a little bit, it’s mostly those who communicate with foreigners. Among the local population quite clearly there are two types: tall, strong physique, face something resembling the American Indians, and people are low, more than the subtle, in their appearance they are closer to some peoples living next door to Tibet. One is struck by the abundance of llamas. They are dressed in special clothes cut red-brown color, one shoulder is bare; they often go barefoot.

And pilgrims and tourists Lhasa attracts primarily as the capital of Lamaism – the northern branch of Buddhism.

The spread of Buddhism in the valley Ki-chu connect with their wives Srontszangambo king who ruled Tibet in VII. – Chinese and Nepalese princesses who, going to his betrothed, brought Buddha statues (they survived). Later, in the XIV century. Buddhism was one of the largest reformed church leaders Tsongkhapa; he gave the local religion the form which it retains to this day. The supreme hierarch Lamaist church is considered to be the Dalai Lama – a reincarnation of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, and the second person – panchen- Lama reincarnation of a Buddha Amitabha – we have seen his residence in Xigaze.

Lamaism Centre, the seat of its main shrines is the Potala – a huge palace-monastery complex, which is considered the largest Buddhist monastery in the world. It is built on towering over Lhasa horseshoe rock Marbo-ri (Red Mountain). The first buildings appeared here in VII., But its present appearance he found only in the XVI-XVII centuries.

The central part of the complex of red-brown, like clothes lamas, color. It is called “Red Palace”. There are apartments of the Dalai Lama, the major Lamaist shrines, tombs (suburgans) Dalai Lama, since the fifth. Another part of the Potala – the “White Palace,” where formerly lived courtiers were reception halls, storerooms and so on. Lamaism is not just a religion for a long time, it determines the entire life of the Tibetans (and other nations, professing Lamaism) is formed and existed for several centuries, theocratic state ruled by bishops Lamaist church. By the middle of the XX century.Tibet was about 3,000 monasteries and more than three hundred thousand monks (much of the male population). The changes did not escape Tibet side, but still every day huge crowds of pilgrims from all over the country flock to the Lama temple.

During our stay in Lhasa, the Potala was open to the public twice a week from morning to afternoon. Entrance fee.

In addition to the Potala in Lhasa and its vicinity are a few very well-known and revered Lama monasteries. This Big Zhu, it was built in the center of Lhasa to commemorate the Chinese princess who became the wife of the Tibetan king, the monastery of Sera, which is located four kilometers north of Lhasa (it is pressed against the tall mountain). One of the most vivid impressions left Braybun visit to the monastery, it is revered by believers. It is located 8 kilometers west of Lhasa, and it can take the bus on the highway, laid on the shore of Ki-chu.

The monastery was founded in 1416 by one of the followers of Tsongkhapa. He stands in a large garden at the southern foot of the mountains, and from the west it covers a small ridge separated from the monastery a large ravine. On the slopes overhanging rocks Braybunom red and blue paint paintings depicted on which the terrible monster (probably dokshity – The Guardian) boiled in cauldrons of sinners. Not far from these pictures is something like a small park, and even higher, closer to the top, one can see two shrine. Himself monastery complex is fully preserved, during our visit to some of the destroyed buildings were restored. But the main body of the monastery, built during the life of its founder, in excellent condition. Its main attraction – a huge statue of Maitreya Buddha, which is in an equally majestic, immersed in the twilight of the central hall of the monastery. At the entrance to his leaving the ceiling shelves piled sutras. And in a small room in another wing of the building were exposed richly decorated objects of worship. In Braybune are also tombs (suburgans) second, third and fourth Dalai Lamas. Discovering Braybunom helped us older and probably high enough rank Lama, who somehow took us under his wing.

The period of our stay in Lhasa is rapidly drawing to a close – we are waiting for a certain time away from Tibet, and it was necessary to think about leaving. The desire to return in eastern Tibet could not be realized: at the bus station we were told that it snowed, the passes are closed and the bus did not go, and go to ride to, we did not venture off-road, this much more difficult and dangerous than the one on which we have come. I had to take a bus ticket to Garmuda.Photographed at parting from standing near the bus station of the monument builders highway, Lhasa have connected with the central regions of China, we boarded the bus and left for Garmud. Ahead was Xining where to start the new route of our trip to China.

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