What to see in Tibet
Tourist attractions Gyantse
The small town of Gyantse, located 274 km southwest of Lhasa on the well-known Friendship Highway, links the capitals of Tibet and Nepal. It is 3977 metres above sea level and located in the fertile plain of the Nyangchu river valley, so its main economic structure depends on agriculture and livestock.It is a must for tourists who want to experience authentic Tibet. A walk through the intact old quarter is enough to breathe the essence of its traditional culture, its historical importance and its genuine Tibetan flavour, which survives despite the Chinese government's efforts to modernize the country.In the 15th century, during its golden years, it became the third most important city in Tibet due to its strategic location on the commercial route with India, where it stood out for its impressive wool carpets.Like most Tibetan monasteries, the Pelkor Chode has an outer wall that marks the boundaries of the complex. On the other side of the walls, there is a temple with a reddish brown facade and a chorten or Tibetan stupa. It was built in the 15th century and is the only one in the country that has monks from different Buddhist disciplinary schools, such as the Order of the Yellow Caps, the Sakya and the Kadampa living in harmony with each other. Its architectural style mixes Tibetan, Nepalese and ethnic Han influences. Inside the main temple of Tsulaklakang is the Audience Hall, where there are two thrones, one for the Dalai Lama and one for the main Sakya Lama. At the back of the room is the most important Tsangkhang shrine, whose walls are adorned with beautiful wall paintings and where there is a bronze statue of Shakyamuni flanked by carvings of other deities.Next to the monastery stands the Chorten or Kumbum, one of the jewels of Tibetan art. Built in 1418, it is 35 metres high and is the oldest, highest, best preserved and the most important in the country.This large stupa covered with plaster painted white, consists of 9 levels that decrease in size as they increase in height. The first 5 have a square plan with a three-dimensional mandala shape and 77 doors, each of which gives access to chapels or sanctuaries that house clay sculptures, beautiful thangkas and exquisite mural paintings, hence the origin of the name Kumbum which means "One Hundred Thousand Images", alluding to the large number of Buddha representations that it houses. The 4 upper levels are circular and on the sides of the 7th, the eyes of wisdom are drawn, symbolising the divine consciousness in everything that exists. It is topped by a dome decorated with 13 golden rings that represent the successive states of approach to the founder of Buddhism. The building is circled following the kora in a clockwise direction as a sign of respect.The Gyantse Dzong is the great fortress that crowns one of the hills of the valley and dominates the city. It was built in 1390 and includes a series of buildings with sturdy and high whitewashed walls, small windows and a decorative red painted strip that runs around the upper of the building. The remains of the old walls from the 9th century that surrounded the city add to the construction giving it a certain medieval air and meander along the side of the mountain for 3 km. Inside it houses a museum, but the most interesting thing is to admire the photogenic views of the city from the top of the Dzong.Gyantse is also known as the "city of heroes" because of its extraordinary resistance to the British imperialist invasion that arrived in the region in 1904. Later, in 1959, the city was devastated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when the monks were persecuted and the monastery damaged and plundered, although it was later repaired.Travelling to Gyantse is one of the most rewarding experiences you can experience in this remote country. Witnessing first-hand the charm of this city and how it has preserved its beauty despite the adverse historical constraints, will make a tour of Tibet even more worthwhile.