The holy city of Lhasa was founded as the capital of the Tibetan Empire in the 7th century by the Emperor Songtsen Gampo. Since the beginning of the ascendancy of the Dalai Lamas in the 17th century, it has had no rivals on the Tibetan Plateau.
A few hours northeast of Lhasa, the Rep‐chu Gorge is the sanctuary of Zhoto Tidro, also known as Terdrom Nunnery. This is among the most favored of all hermitages because it was here that a great female adept named Yeshe Tsogyal, practiced ascetic meditation with the master Padmasambhava for many years.
The Yarlung Valley (where Gongkar Airport is located, south of Lhasa) is called the cradle of Tibetan civilization because it is here that the first King descended from the sky and landed on top of a sacred hill near Tsetang, thus fulfilling a prophecy. T
This trip offers an in-depth experience of Lhasa and its monasteries and then takes you out into the countryside for a pleasant drive to the stunning Yudrok Yutso Turquoise Lake via La Gampa, a high mountain pass.
About 45 km from Lhasa, Ganden Monastery was founded in the 15th century by Tsongkapa. For centuries, Ganden, named after the paradise of Maitreya Buddha, has been a major institution of the Gelukpa tradition.
The drive from Lhasa to Tsurphu, which passes through beautiful farmlands and pastures, is about two hours long. Founded in the 12th century by the 1st Karmapa, Tsurphu is the seat of the famous and powerful lineage of the Karmapas.
Located about 250 km from Lhasa along the Qinghai Tibet highway, Namtso Sky Lake lies at an elevation of 4,718 m/15,549 ft and is the second largest salt water lake in Tibet. Bordering the sacred Nyenchen Tanglha snowy peaks, you can explore Tashi Do Hermitage.
Drak Yerpa, Caves of Mystical Realization, lies about two hours northeast of Lhasa. Built on the limestone cliffs of the Yerpa Valley, this area is renowned for its historic complex of temples and 108 meditation and retreat caves, some of which date from the earliest period of Buddhism in Tibet.
Leaving the city of Lhasa, you will drive along the scenic Kyi Chu River and cross the highest river in the world—the Tsangpo River which becomes the Brahmaputra in India. After climbing a high pass, you'll arrive at Yamdrok Yutso Turquoise Lake.
Founded in 1419, Sera Monastery is located 55km north of Lhasa. Sera is still one the great Gelugpa institutions in Tibet. About 600 monks are currently in residence, down from a historical population of 5,000. The half-dozen colleges feature spectacular prayer halls and chapels.