Explore Tibet Announces 3-Day Spiritual Journey to the Yarlung Valley
2013-01-23

We offer 3-day spiritual Tibet tour of the Yarlung valley. This trip can be added onto any other itinerary. According to Explore Tibet, “the Yarlung Valley is the cradle of Tibetan civilization. The beauty and culture of this area are integral to Tibetan identity.”

Southeast of Lhasa along the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra)River, the Yarlung valley contains many important ancient holy sites, including burial mounds of the first kings, the remains of an ancient fort, and the oldest monastery in Tibet, called Samye.

Samye Monastery was built in the 8th century by the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen. At this time Buddhist practice had lost favor with the Tibetan people and they had reverted to Tibet’s original religion, called Bon. The king wished to revitalize Buddhism by building a new center of monastic training. He invited a monk from India named Shantarakshita to oversee construction.

Several disasters occurred during the construction of the monastery, leading the workers to think that evil spirits were blocking their progress. The king summoned a sage-guru, later known in Tibet as Guru Rinpoche, from northern India to confront the evil spirits blocking the construction. He subdued the spirits and turned them into protectors of Tibet. Guru Rinpoche later became an important transmitter of the teachings of Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhism across Tibet and Bhutan. His influence can be seen throughout Tibet, and many temples and holy sites carry his name and image.

The structure of the monastery is in the shape of a mandala, a circular representation of the Buddhist universe. The main building, called Utse, is designed in a Tibetan style on the first floor, a Chinese style on the second floor, and an Indian style on the third floor. This symbolizes Samye’s significance in the scholastic history of Tibet. In the 8th century a great debate took place here between Indian and Chinese Buddhist leaders, the results of which shaped the Tibetan style of Buddhism that carries on into cultural practice today.

North of Samye is a series of caves called the Chim-puk Hermitage. The meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche is located here, and many pilgrims visit the caves and the shrines within. 
The city of Tsetang is the ancient capital of Tibet and the starting point for adventures into the Yarlung Valley. One of the most important sites in the valley is the Trandruk monastery, or hawk-dragon monastery, named for a battle in which the 7th century king Songtsen Gampo turned himself into a hawk to fight a local dragon. This monastery houses a famous thangka—a traditional Tibetan artistic depiction of a Buddhist deity—that contains 29,000 pearls.
Six kilometers south of the monastery is the oldest building in Tibet, called Yumbulagang. In Tibetan mythology, this site marks a spot where hundreds of Buddhist texts fell from the heavens in the 5th century. The original structure was a fortress, and its prominent tower and location on a stony ridge over the valley make it highly photogenic.

After the announcement of 3-Day Spiritual Journey to the Yarlung Valley, Explore Tibet will disclose the newest regulations on Tibet permit soon.

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