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Tibetan Buddhism preserved much of the later Indian Buddhist traditions before they were wiped out from India. Combining with the cultural traditions and practices of the Bon religion, Buddhism in Tibet has taken a form that is unique, found nowhere else in the world. One of the main festivals in Tibetan Buddhism is the Saga Dawa. The Saga Dawa Festival honors Shakyamuni and lasts for one month. It takes place in the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar and is thought to be the holiest festival in Tibet. While April 15 (Tue, May 31, 2022) is seen as the most important and special day in Tibetan Buddhism because it is said to be the date of Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death.
Pilgrims from all over the world come to Lhasa for this festival. They show their deepest gratitude to the Buddha by doing the Kora around the Jokhang Temple, giving money to the poor, and letting animals go free. This makes Saga Dawa Festival the most merciful day in Tibet.
In Tibetan, "month" is called "Dawa," and "Saga" is the name of the brightest star in the sky during the lunar month. In Tibetan astrology, Saka is one of the 28 most important stars that are known. On holy days like the full moon and the new moon of the month, Tibetans follow eight major precepts during Saga Dawa. Since the full moon is the holiest day, the people who follow these rules do so with great passion.
The Saga Dawa Festival features a long-standing custom of going around in circles, or circumambulation around chortens and religious temples. In Lhasa, there are three different ways to go around the city. The first one is the Langkhor path, which is located in the Jokhang Temple and has a circumference of 500 meters. The second option is to take Barkhor Street, which is one kilometer in circumference. Linkhor Street is the third route, and it has a circumference of 5000 meters, which means it completely encircles the old city of Lhasa. Every day, there are a large number of people who practice Tibetan Buddhism and conduct a circumambulation along Langkhor Route and Barkhor Street. On the auspicious occasion of the Saga Dawa Festival, Tibetans would select to perform the ritual of circumambulation on Linkhor Street.
Beggars from all over Tibet would congregate on South Deji Road in Lhasa in order to solicit donations on the holiday of Saga Dawa. This is another custom associated with this holiday. The practice of paying alms on Saga Dawa has developed into a custom among Tibetans living in Lhasa. Visitors who schedule their trips to Tibet around the time of the Saga Dawa Festival will have the opportunity to take part in the distribution of alms and experience the unique ambiance of the festival. Visitors to Tibet would also notice that Tibetan Buddhism had a significant impact on each and every facet of local Tibetans' day-to-day lives.
Our representative will greet you as you arrive at the top of the globe in Lhasa. It is our job to meet your needs now that you are in our care. Because Lhasa is located at a vast altitude of 3600m, you may feel a little breathless while you adjust to the low altitude.
On their route to the hotel, tourists could see the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet's largest and longest river. You can get some rest after checking in. You can also go out and explore the city if you want. But keep in mind not to bring too much, and strive to travel light. Meanwhile, drink some extra water and avoid strenuous activity. Acclimatization to high altitude is really beneficial.
You will spend the day traveling to the Jokhang Temple, which is widely considered to be Tibet's most sacred religious site. The Jokhang Temple, which serves as the Saga Dawa headquarters in Lhasa, is the finest location to experience the spirit of the Saga Dawa Festival. Pilgrims come from far and wide to worship the image of the 12-year-old Buddha that is housed in this temple. They also do the ritual of the kora, or the circumambulation, either inside the Jokhang Temple hall or outside the temple by walking in a circle along Barkhor Street.
People are more likely to give generously during this festival because they believe that whatever good deeds they perform will be magnified by a thousand during this time. In the seventh century, the 33rd Great King of Tibet was responsible for establishing the Jokhang Temple. Once inside, you will be able to view a statue of Buddha Sakyamuni when he was twelve years old. From the outside, you will be able to watch pilgrims prostrating themselves in front of the Jokhang Temple.
After taking in the festival experience, we will head to the Drepung Temple. Drepung Monastery is considered to be one of the "big three" Gelug monasteries in all of Tibet. It was established in 1416 by Jamyang Choje, who was considered to be one of the most important followers of Tsongkhapa. In addition, there is a Buddhist Sculpture Carving Workshop not far from Drepung, and the monastery itself houses the largest monastic kitchen in the world.
You will start your exploration of Lhasa at the Potala Palace, which serves as both the spiritual center of the city and the winter residence of the Dalai Lama. During the 7th century, it was constructed by the 33rd great monarch of Tibet, whose name was Songtsen Gangpo. The most interesting sights at Potala Palace are the gilded burial stupas of previous Dalai Lamas and the meditation Cave of the 33rd great king. We will allot a significant amount of time to visit Potala Palace so that you can get the most out of your experience there, both in terms of the views and photographs you take as well as the insights you gain into Tibetan history and culture.
The Sera Monastery, which is considered to be one of the "big three" Gelug monasteries in all of Tibet, will be the focus of your afternoon excursion. Discussion occurs among monks between the hours of three and five in the afternoon. At these monasteries, you'll also have the opportunity to view colorful rock paintings of Buddha as well as mandalas. In addition to that, the scenery is pretty pleasant here because there are wild roses all around. Because of this, some people also refer to it as "the Court of wild rose."
In addition, the Norbulingka monastery is on our schedule for today. Norbulingka means Jeweled Park. From the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama's exile in 1959, it was the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas in the years leading up to his departure.
Drive all the way from Lhasa to Shigatse in the morning. On the route, you will get a view of Yamdrok-tso a holy lake, when you drive over the Gampala Pass, which is at an elevation of 4790 meters. The lake is encircled by a number of mountains that are covered in snow, and in the distance, you can get breathtaking views of Holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar (7191m), which is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Lhasa.
In a little while, we will get to see and appreciate the Kora la Glacier as we drive by it. After that, we will make our way to Gyantse, which was once Tibet's third-largest city (after Lhasa and Shigatse). During our time in Gyantse, we will make stops at the well-known Pelkor Monastery as well as the Gyantse Kumbum and take in the scenery of the distant Gyangtse Fortress.
In a while, after leaving Gyantse we will have made it to Shigatse, which is the second largest city in Tibet, after a journey of almost one and a half hours. In Shigatse, we may have the opportunity to go to a classic barley mill and take in the surrounding landscape of barley fields.
Tashilunpo Monastery, well known as the residence of Panchan Lama, will be our first stop in the morning. We will then depart from Shigatse and proceed to the nearby town of Lhatse, where you will have the opportunity to eat lunch.
Following that, we will travel across the Tsola Pass (4600 m) and the Gyatsola Pass (5248m). At Gawula Pass, which is located not long after we reach the Mount Everest National Nature Reserve, visitors may take in breathtaking views of the Himalayas (5198m). After that, we make our way to Everest Base Camp via the recently constructed zigzag road (5200m). You are able to get closer in order to have a better view of the summit of Mount Everest. Sunset on the Everest Base Camp is a sight to remember.
Depending on the season, we can stay overnight at EBC in a tent or in a guest house nearby.
The magnificent sunrise that can be seen from Everest Peak is beyond your wildest dreams. I hope you have the most pleasant and tranquil morning you've ever experienced. Following that, we are going to travel to the Rongbuk Monastery, which has the record for being the highest monastery in the world. From the Everest Base Camp, one may get a clear view of Mount Everest and take photographs of it as well. In the end, we will start our journey back to Shigatse along the same path that we took to get here. The travel time associated with this endeavor will take up a full day.
The Yalong Valley will be our route today as we make our way back to Lhasa by vehicle. You will be able to get a good look of the expansive Yalong River bed if you stand on the viewing platform. At the end of the tour, the guide will take you back to your respective accommodations in Lhasa.
Today is the day you will depart after completing your tour in Tibet. We hope you have enjoyed your time here. Three hours before your scheduled flight, our representatives will drive you to the airport. Stay safe and remember us for any other travel in the Himalayas. Tashi Delekh
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