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Tibet

Potala Palace

Tibet Autonomous Region is the historic region and autonomous region of China that is often called “the roof of the world.” It occupies about 471,700 square miles (1,221,600 square kilometres) of the plateaus and mountains of Central Asia. It is bordered by the Chinese provinces of Tsinghai to the northeast, Szechwan to the east, and Yunnan to the southeast; Myanmar (Burma), India, Bhutan, and Nepal to the south; the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir to the west; and the Uighur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang to the northwest. Lhasa is the capital city. The name Tibet is derived from the Mongolian Thubet, the Chinese Tufan, the Tai Thibet, and the Arabic Tubbat. Before the 1950s Tibet was a unique entity that sought isolation from the rest of the world. It constituted a cultural and religious whole, marked by the Tibetan language and Tibetan Buddhism. Little effort was made to facilitate communication with other countries, and economic development was minimal. After its incorporation into China, fitful efforts at development took place in Tibet, disrupted by ethnic tension between the Han (Chinese) and Tibetans and Tibetan resistance to the imposition of Marxist values. Official policy since the early 1980s has been somewhat more conciliatory, resulting in slightly better Han-Tibetan relations and greater opportunities for economic development and tourism.

Although Tibetans refer to their country as Gangs-ljongs or Kha-ba-can (“Land of Snows”), the climate is generally dry, and most of Tibet receives only 18 inches (460 millimetres) of rain and snow annually. The Himalayas act as a barrier to the monsoon (rain-bearing) winds from the south, and precipitation decreases from south to north. The perpetual snow line lies at about 16,000 feet in the Himalayas but rises to about 20,000 feet in the northern mountains. Humidity is low, and fog is practically nonexistent. Temperatures in the higher altitudes are cold, but the lower valleys and the southeast are mild and pleasant. Seasonal variation is minimal, and the greatest temperature differences occur during a 24-hour period. Lhasa, which lies at an elevation of 11,830 feet, has a maximum daily temperature of 85° F (30° C) and a minimum of ?2° F (?19° C). The bitterly cold temperatures of the early morning and night are aggravated by the gale winds that blow throughout most of the year. Because of the cool dry air, grain can be safely stored for 50 to 60 years, dried raw meat and butter can be preserved for more than one year, and epidemics are rare.

Tibet was traditionally divided into three regions, or Chol-kha-gsum (Chol-kha means “region”; gsum means “three”). The Dbus-Gtsang region stretches from Mnga'-ris skor-gsum at the border of Jammu and Kashmir to Sog-la skya-bo near the town of Sog. The Khams, or Mdo-stod, region consists of the territory between Sog-la skya-bo and the upper bend of the Huang Ho (Yellow River), now located in Tsinghai Province. The A-mdo, or Mdo-smad, region reaches from the Huang Ho to Mchod-rten dkar-po in Kansu Province, comprising most of present-day Tsinghai. Tibetans say that the best religion comes from Dbus-Gtsang, the best men from Khams, and the best horses from A-mdo. Within the three Chol-kha-gsum approximately one-third of the area is uninhabitable, about one-fifth is roamed by nomads, and the rest is occupied by seminomads and agriculturalists, with a small percentage claimed by trappers in the forest belt. The main agricultural region is the 1,000-mile-long great valley of southern Tibet, stretching from the upper Indus Valley in the west to the valley of the upper Brahmaputra. Most of the agriculture, animal husbandry, and industry of Tibet is concentrated in this valley, which includes the main cities of Lhasa, Jih-k'a-tse, and Chiang-tzu.

The population of the region is almost entirely Tibetan, with Han (Chinese), Hui (Chinese Muslims), Hu, Monba, and other minority nationalities. Thus, the majority of the people of Tibet have the same ethnic origin, have traditionally practiced the same religion, and speak the same language. The Tibetan and Burmese languages are related, although they are mutually unintelligible in their modern forms. Spoken Tibetan has developed a pattern of regional dialects and subdialects, which can be mutually understood. The dialect of Lhasa is used as a lingua franca. There are two social levels of speech—zhe-sa (honorific) and phal-skad (ordinary); their use depends upon the relative social status between the speaker and the listener. Chinese has been imposed on the Tibetans since the 1960s. Tibetan is written in a script derived from that of Indian Gupta in about AD 600. It has a syllabary of 30 consonants and five vowels; six additional symbols are used in writing Sanskrit words. The script itself has four variations—dbu-can (primarily for Buddhist textbooks), dbu-med and 'Khyug-yig (for general use), and 'bru-tsha (for decorative writing).

Bon is considered to be the first known religion in Tibet, although there is some argument as to the time of its establishment. It is a form of shamanism, encompassing a belief in gods, demons, and ancestral spirits who are responsive to priests, or shamans. With the rise of Buddhism, Bon adopted certain Buddhist rituals and concepts; the Buddhists also adopted certain features of Bon, so that the two religions have many points of resemblance. Although Chinese Buddhism was introduced in ancient times, the mainstream of Buddhist teachings came to Tibet from India. The first Buddhist scripture may have arrived in the 3rd century AD, but active promulgation did not begin until the 8th century. In later centuries numerous Buddhist sects were formed, including the Dge-lugs-pa sect, which emphasizes monastic discipline; in the 17th century this sect, known also as the Yellow Hats sect, gained political supremacy that lasted until 1959. In recent times the overwhelming majority of Tibetans have traditionally been Buddhists. Before the Chinese occupation, prayer flags flew from every home and adorned the mountain slopes. Monasteries were established throughout the country, and the Dalai Lama (the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism) was the supreme political head of the nation. A minority, however, were adherents of Islam, Hinduism, Bon, or Christianity. Until a moderation of policy in the 1980s the Chinese attempted to eliminate the influence of religion in Tibetan life. The Dalai Lama was forced into exile in 1959, temples were closed, religious artifacts and scriptures were destroyed, and prayer flags were temporarily taken down.

Before 1951 traveling in Tibet was done either on foot or on the backs of animals. Coracles (small boats made of wicker and hides) were used to cross the larger rivers. The Tibetan government obstructed the development of modern transportation to make access to the country difficult for outsiders. For trading, the Tibetans relied on the centuries-old caravan routes leading to Lhasa, of which the most important were from Tsinghai (via Na-ch'ü) and Szechwan (via Ch'ang-tu), India (via Kalimpong and Ya-tung); Nepal (via Skyid-grong and Nya-lam rdzong); and Jammu and Kashmir (via Leh and Ka-erh).Under the Communist Chinese, a network of roads was constructed, notably the Tsinghai and Szechwan highways. Additional trunk roads have been constructed that connect Tibet to Sinkiang, Yunnan, and Nepal. The first air link between Tibet and Peking was inaugurated in 1956. The first telegraph line was strung between Kalimpong (India) and Chiang-tzu by the British in 1904. In the 1920s another line connecting Chiang-tzu with Lhasa was erected, this being the only telegraph system in use until the Chinese took over in 1951. Postal and telecommunication stations, including mobile units, serve remote border areas and geological, hydrological, and construction teams.

The staple Tibetan food is barley flour (rtsam-pa), which is consumed daily. Other major foods include wheat flour, yak meat, mutton, and pork. Dairy products such as butter, milk, and cheese are also popular. The people in the higher altitudes generally consume more meat than those of the lower regions, where a variety of vegetables is available. Rice is generally restricted in consumption to the well-to-do families, southern border farmers, and monks. Two beverages—tea and barley beer (chhang)—are particularly noteworthy. Brick tea from China and local Tibetan tea leaves are boiled in soda water. The tea is then strained and poured into a churn, and salt and butter are added before the mixture is churned. The resulting tea is light reddish white and has a thick buttery surface. Chang, which is mildly intoxicating, is thick and white and has a sweet and pungent taste.

Festivals are both national and local in character. The many local celebrations are varied; national festivals, though fewer, are marked with a spirit of unity and lavishness. Major Tibetan festivals are Tibetan New Year (February or March of the Gregorian calendar), the Smom-lam (“prayer”) festival, The dgu-gtor festival and many more. Superstition is prominent in Tibet. A traveler who encounters either a funeral procession, the source of running water, or a passerby carrying a pitcher of water is considered to have good fortune awaiting him. If a vulture or an owl perches on a rooftop, it is believed that death or misfortune will soon befall the household. If snow falls during a marriage procession, it is believed that the newlyweds will face many misfortunes or difficulties. A snowfall during a funeral, however, symbolizes an impediment to death in the family for a long period of time.

Massif Holidays has designed the different itineraries for tours and activities such as Everest Base Camp Tour, Mt.Kailash Tour, Tibet Winter Tour, Tibet Biking Tour, Tibet Train Tour ,Tibet Trekking Tour Tibet Festival Tour and many more. These tour and activities  varies from the major cities to opther populat cities of Tibet. Please feel free to share your ideas with us if you are thinking about traveling to Tibet, we will provide the best and life memorable holiday experiences to you based on your time, budget, interest and requirements.

Tibet Activities

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