Tibet

Buddhist Children

Tibet, the Roof of the World, remained unknown to the world until the beginning of the 20th century. The massive, snowy land has exerted an awesome draw on travelers and adventurers ever since. Its majestic scenery, mysterious and exotic religious culture, and wonderful people, reward every tourist with an indelible life long memory!

Tibet shows many different faces: unique style life and lonely landscapes, Tibetan Buddhism customs and culture, lovely lakes and rough mountains. For cultural sightseeing, Lhasa is ceaselessly thriving, and inevitably, it is the one place that features on every traveler’s itinerary. It is not only Tibet’s biggest city and capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, but also the place where the world’s attention are attracted to. Mount Everest is great for hiking in summer. On the way up to Mount Everest we have Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world. If condition permits, tourists can even see the sunrise at the monastery. Mount Kailash is considered as a sacred place in four religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bön faith. In Hindu religion, it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva.

 

Best Times to Go

From May to October is the best time to travel in Tibet, when the weather is not very cold, averaging above 10°C. This is naturally the busiest travel time in Tibet, when people come for the warmer weather and higher oxygen content.

July and August is the rainy season in Tibet, though, apart from in the southeast, there is still not a lot of rain.

The best months for camping are May and September when it hardly rains at all.

If you plan to travel to Mt. Everest, travel in April, May, September, or October, when you are more likely to see the peak clearly. It is more likely to be hidden behind thick clouds the rest of the year.

Travelers who are interested in Tibetan festivals are recommended to visit Tibet in August when the Shoton Festival, Nagqu Horse Racing Festival, and Ganden Thangka Festival are held. But expect to see huge crowds during the festivals.

Late September to October is the best time to see autumnal colours in Tibet

Things to do:Summer is the time to travel to the various attractions in the remoter regions, and enjoy the high altitude sites when the mountain passes are snow free. It is also the time to hike.

Activities:Tibetans hold their outdoor market fairs and encampments, festivals, and sports contests when the grasslands are at their lushest. Festivals of note include the Ganden Thangka Festival, the Shoton Festival, and the Nagqu Horse Racing Festival.

 

History

Tibet emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire, but it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century.

Following the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Qing soldiers were disarmed and escorted out of Tibet Area (Ü-Tsang). The region subsequently declared its independence in 1913, without recognition by the following Chinese Republican government.Later Lhasa took control of the western part of Xikang Province, China. The region maintained its autonomy until 1951 when, following the Invasion of Tibet, Tibet became unified into the People’s Republic of China, and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959 after a failed uprising. Today, the People’s Republic of China governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region; while the eastern areas are now mostly ethnic autonomous prefectures within Sichuan, Qinghai and other neighbouring provinces. There are tensions regarding Tibet’s political status and dissident groups which are active in exile. It is also said that Tibetan activists in Tibet have been arrested or tortured.

 

Geography

It is bounded on the north and east by the Central China Plain, on the west by the Kashmir Region of India and on the south by Nepal, India and Bhutan. Most of Tibet sits atop a geological structure known as the Tibetan Plateau, which includes the Himalaya and many of the highest mountain peaks in the world, including Mount Everest on the border with Nepal. Tibet is often called “the roof of the world,” comprising table-lands averaging over 4,950 metres above the sea.

 

Culture

Tibet developed a distinct culture due to its geographic and climatic conditions. While influenced by neighboring countries and cultures, including Nepal, India, and China, the Himalayan region’s remoteness and inaccessibility have preserved distinct local influences, and stimulated the development of its distinct culture.

Buddhism has exerted a particularly strong influence on Tibetan culture since its introduction in the 7th century. Buddhist missionaries who came mainly from Nepal and China introduced arts and customs from India and China. Art, literature, and music all contain elements of the prevailing Buddhist beliefs, and Buddhism itself has adopted a unique form in Tibet, influenced by the Bön tradition and other local beliefs.

Several works on astronomy, astrology and medicine were translated from Sanskrit and Chinese. The general appliances of civilization have come from China, among many things and skills imported were the making of butter, cheese, barley-beer, pottery, water mills and the national beverage-tea.

Tibet’s specific geographic and climatic conditions have encouraged reliance on pastoralism, as well as the development of a different cuisine from surrounding regions, which fits the needs of the human body in these high altitudes.

 

Wildlife

Tibet hosts species of wolf, wild donkey, cranes, vultures, hawks, geese, snakes, and buffalo. One notable animal is the high-altitude jumping spider, that can live at over 6,500 metres (21,300 ft) of elevation.  You can also find Tibetan eagles, marmots, Himalayan mouse hares, foxes, and Himalayan ravens.  Agkistrodon himalayanus is a snake that lives as high as 4,900 meters (16,000 feet) in the Himalayas.

Rich in wild plant resource, Tibet is just like a giant plant kingdom, with more than 5,000 species of high-grade plants. Most of the plants in Tibet are distributed in southeast Tibet, like Medog, Chayu, Luoyu and Menyu. Tibet is also one of China’s largest forest areas, preserving intact primeval forests.  Almost all the main plant species from the tropical to the frigid zones of the northern hemisphere are found here. Common species include Himalayan pine, alpine larch, Pinus yunnanensis, Pinus armandis, Himalayan spruce, Himalayan fir, hard-stemmed long bract fir, hemlock, Monterey Larix potaniniis, Tibetan larch, Tibetan cypress and Chinese juniper. There are about 926,000 hectares of pine forest in Tibet. Two species, Tibetan longleaf pine and Tibetan lacebark pine, are included in the listing of tree species under state protection.

Many plants in Tibet have medicinal value. There are more than 1,000 wild plants used for medicine, 400 of which are medicinal herbs most often used. Particularly well known medicine plants include Chinese caterpillar fungus, Fritillaria Thunbergii, Rhizoma Picrorhizae, rhubarb, Rhizoma Gastrodiae, pseudo-ginseng, Codonopsis Pilosula, Radix Gentiane Macrophyllae, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, glossy ganoderma, and Caulis Spatholobi.
In addition, there are over 200 known species of fungi, including famous edible fungi songrong, hedgehog hydnum, zhangzi fungus, mush rooms, black fungi, tremellas and yellow fungi. Fungi for medical use include tuckahoes, songganlan, stone-like omphalias.

 

Climate

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Tibet is a high altitude plateau set amid tall mountain ranges. The mountain ranges catch the rainfall before it reaches the plateau, so most of Tibet, except for the southeast, is desert steppe, tundra, or permafrost. Most of Tibet experiences frost at least six months of the year, and the highest lakes have ice from October to March. The weather varies a lot from region to region.

Main Features of Tibet’s climate

  • Strong sunshine
  • Cold and dry
  • Large day/night temperature difference

Tibet’s high altitude results in:

  • Thin air
  • Less oxygen content
  • Lower boiling point

Lhasa (elevation 3,550 meters (11,600 ft)) is ideal for tourists to the region to acclimate in, because it is in a lower elevation valley in the warmer and wetter southeastern part of the region. The annual precipitation in Lhasa is relatively high for Tibet at 500 millimetres (20 inches), as the annual precipitation across the region averages around 200 millimetres (4 and 12 inches).

 

Tibet Weather and Tourism in the Four Seasons

Due to the high evaluation, Tibet has a quite different seasons from other places with a longer winter.

Spring (April–May)

The ice melts and the weather warms during spring, opening up blocked remote roads and making travel outside Lhasa more pleasant. Tibet reopens to tourism in early April (as it is usually closed to visitors in March for Tibetan New Year).

Summer (June–August)

The weather is warm to cool and summer is the busiest travel season of the year in Tibet. There air has a higher oxygen content than in other season. Sometimes it will shower at night or for about an hour in the afternoon in mid July to late August, so rain is not a big issue even in the rainy season. Train tickets to Lhasa are difficult to get in summer.

Fall (September–October)

Also a busy travel season in Tibet, the weather is clear and cool in fall. It’s a good time to hike and trek in Tibet, and it’s also a good time to shoot photos of mountain peaks, due to less cloud.

Winter (November–March)

Tibet is usually closed to foreign travellers in February and March for 5 or 6 weeks. Tibet Entry Permits are normally not issued for February and March. Some roads are closed due to the heavy snow. Except for the coldness, it’s a good time to travel to lower altitude places like Lhasa, as hotels and travel agencies may offer discounts during winter, and tourists are far fewer than in summer and fall.