Currently Tibet is included in China and Wondermondo is reviewing the country in the present-day borders of Tibet Autonomous region.
Few countries in the world are as shrouded in myths and legends as Tibet is. This is land with mountainous (highest mountains in the world!), rugged and harsh terrain – and lots of unspoilt nature. All this scenery is dotted with thousands of historical landmarks – megaliths, cliff art, abandoned and existing towns and cities, thousands of rock-cut chambers and passages, monasteries.
The most amazing wonders of Tibet are:
- Buddhist and Bön monasteries. The numerous monasteries of Tibet are the keepers and developers of the traditions in this country, here are stored old writings and artwork. Mysterious is the Bön tradition – a relict of the distant past and extinct cultures of Tibet.
- Archaeological heritage. Although later – Tibetan and Chinese cultures – have partly erased the earlier heritage, in Tibet still are found hundreds of monuments created by earlier cultures, such as Zhang Zhung or Guge.
- Natural landmarks. Country has huge number of interesting landmarks but the most impressive is the landscape, image of Tibet as a whole. Nowhere else in the world one will see such a "sea of mountains" with thousands of lucid lakes and deepest canyons in the world.
Map with the described wonders
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Top 25 wonders of Tibet
Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon
Possibly the deepest canyon in the world, up to 6,009 m deep. Average depth – 2,268 m. Contains unique, nearly undisturbed ecosystem with different height zones – from subtropical to Arctic.
This very powerful fall is around 30 meters high and is located in one of the last explored areas on Earth. It was discovered only in the late 1990s. Upstreams are located Rainbow Falls that are some 20 m high.
Peting Chuja and Naisum Chuja
Some of the most mysterious and less known geyser fields in the world, located in hard to access valley of La Chu (Laha) River. It is considered that there are some 14 active geysers. Naisum Chuja at the end of the 19th century had two geysers spouting up to 18 m high. During the harsh Tibetan winter the water freezes, forming weird ice towers.
Possibly one of the largest geyser fields in the world reported having some 100 geysers. Dagejia Geyser spouts up to 20 m high and is the largest geyser in Tibet.
Caves of Garuda Valley
Rock-cut caves in the canyon of upper Sutlej, part of them form Kyunglung (see below). Entrance in some caves is in vertical cliff up to 400 m above the river. Caves most likely were created by the ancient Zhang Zhung civilization and may form a part of the legendary Shambala.
Donggar (Dungkar) and Piyang Buddhist Caves
Group of artificial caves with very valuable frescoes (Donggar) that are some 1,100 years old. Colorful drawings mostly show heavenly girls. In Piyang above the village rises a hill with more than one thousand rock-cut caves.
Architecture and legendary wonders
A monument of world importance, this is the chief residence of the Dalai Lama. The first palace was built here in 637, while the current palace was built in 1645 at 13 floors and 117 meters high. It contains 1000 rooms and numerous monuments of art and knowledge, although most of them have been lost since the Chinese invasion.
Visually very impressive mountain, 6638 meters high. It is a very sacred site for many of the religions of Asia, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. It is off-limits to people due to its religious significance. Pilgrims walk around the mountain in a 52 km long trek.
Buddhist monastery, built sometime around 642 AD. One of the most sacred sites for Tibetans contains numerous revered metal sculptures hidden from the eyes of casual visitors.
Palace and park of Dalai Lamas, constructed in the second half of the 18th century. Unique monument of Tibetan culture. Especially impressive is the park and gardens.
This is a large monastery, founded in 1073. The leading monastery of Tibet in the 13th century. It has medieval Mongolian architecture and contains very important artworks and a library with 84 000 scrolls.
The most sacred lake in Tibet, a place where senior monks go to assist in the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas. Lake is located at 5,300 m altitude and is often visited by pilgrims who want to see their future in the skull-shaped mirror of this lake.
Yumbulagang (Yungbulakang Palace)
An impressive mountaintop palace, according to the legends – the oldest building in Tibet (the 2nd century BC) and the residence of the first king of Tibet – Nyatri Tsenpo.
One of the first (possibly – the first) geomantic temples in Tibet, built before the 8th century AD. Geomantic temples were a group of 12 temples built in special places to provide protection to Tibet. Tradruk has many valuable works of art.
Very old Buddhist monastery, built in the 7th century as one of the legendary “demoness-subduing” temples according to geomantic theory. Monastery has golden roof that is visible from far away.
The first Buddhist monastery in Tibet, it was founded sometimes around 775 – 779 AD. The original buildings are not preserved and the monastery was rebuilt several times.
Ruins of the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Guge. The town basically consists of a huge mountain with a fortress – a summer palace on it. The mountain is crisscrossed by artificial passages and caves. According to legends, the town was established sometime around 838 – 841 AD, most of the constructions are from the 11th century.
A comparatively small but important monastery, it was founded in 1040. It was ancient centre of education, esoteric studies and psychic training and is renowned for its painted murals.
Historical quarters of Lhasa city with narrow streets, public squares, many historically and culturally important buildings. Most authentic is Barkhor – a maze of streets and squares encircling the Jokhang Temple, a popular route for pilgrims.
Reported by some to have been the largest monastery in the world, in the first half of the 20th century it had up to 10000 monks. The monastery was founded in 1416 and had high standards of education. It was partly destroyed by the Chinese in 1951.
An important monastery that had up to 4000 monks. It was founded in 1447 and has numerous important art works.
One of the best preserved historical fortresses in Tibet. Present walls were built in 1268, palace – in 1365. Walls are adorned with murals from the 14th century.
The first monastery of Tibetan Geluk order, it was founded in 1409. In the early 20th century it had around 6000 monks. It was demolished in 1959 and 1966 by the Chinese, partly reconstructed afterwards.
For nearly a decade, Matteo Pistono evaded Chinese security and smuggled out photos of prisons, secret documents, and firsthand interviews of torture victims and other atrocities committed by the Chinese government. Yet Pistono had not initially gone to Tibet to fight for human rights-but as a Buddhist pilgrim.
The myth of Shangri-la originates in Tibetan Buddhist beliefs in beyul, or hidden lands, sacred sanctuaries that reveal themselves to devout pilgrims and in times of crisis. The more remote and inaccessible the beyul, the vaster its reputed qualities. Ancient Tibetan prophecies declare that the greatest of all hidden lands lies at the heart of the forbidding Tsangpo Gorge, deep in the Himalayas and veiled by a colossal waterfall. Nineteenth-century accounts of this fabled waterfall inspired a series of ill-fated European expeditions that ended prematurely in 1925 when the intrepid British plant collector Frank Kingdon-Ward penetrated all but a five-mile section of the Tsangpo’s innermost gorge and declared that the falls were no more than a “religious myth” and a “romance of geography.”