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Tibetan Medicine System
Tibetan Medicine System

About Tibet

General Information on Tibet
2.5 million sq. km.
Capital: Lhasa
Population: 6 million Tibetans and an estimated 7.5 million Chinese, most of whom are in Kham and Amdo.
Language: Tibetan (of the Tibeto-Burmese language family). The official language is Chinese.
Altitude: 4300 meters

Information about Tibet

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Tibet also called Xizang is the highest region in the world with an average elevation of 4,300 meters. It is commonly known as the "Roof of the World". Surrounded by vast mountain ranges in the north, south and west, it is a homeland of six million Tibetan people. Tibet derives its name from the Sanskrit word Trivistapa which means heaven and it is undoubtedly a heaven with its unparallel scenic beauty and unmatched cultural extravagance. Tibet has vast tourist attractions including Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. It contains varied natural, cultural, historical and religious places that offer unmatched beauty and adventure as well. Tibet is also a pilgrimage centre for Buddhists as it houses some of the most sacred places of the religion. Every year large number of tourists visit Tibet for adventurous tours, Mt. Everest expedition, or the pilgrimage. April to October is the best season for the Tibet tour. The normal winter tour is quite comfortable, because in winter, the tourist rush is not much and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery freely. The winding Yarlang Tsangpo river, the turquoise Yamdrok Tso Lake and other holy lakes, unique flora and fauna, ancient ruins, majestic palaces and monasteries, folkloric activities and religious ceremonies, Tibet is full of adventure, natural and cultural heritage. The popular tourist places in Tibet include Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, Shigatse, Gyantse, Tingri, Tsedang, Xegar, Zangmu, etc.

History of Tibet
Tibetan history can be traced back to thousands of years. However, the written history dates back to the seventh century from the reign of Emperor Songtsän Gampo who combined many areas and tribes of the region and formed his empire. He sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit and inscription of history started. From the early 1600 the Dalai Lamas, known as spiritual leaders of the region and believed to be the emanations of Avalokitesvara, hold the power. Between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lama and his regents were the principal political power controlling religious and administrative authority over Tibet from the traditional capital Lhasa, which was regarded as the most sacred city of Tibet. Administratively the region is divided into one municipality and six prefectures. The municipality is Lhasa, while the six prefectures are Shigatse, Ngari, Lhaoka, Chamdo, Nakchu and Nyingtri (Kongpo). The People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region exercises the highest administrative authority in Tibet.


Geography of Tibet
Tibet is located in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the world's highest region, in the area of about 2.5 million square km. The Tibetan geography includes high snow peaked mountains, lakes, rivers, tropical forests, grassland and dry arid land as well. Most of the Himalaya mountain range, one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world at only 4 million years old, lies within Tibet. It comprises table-lands averaging over 4,950 meters above the sea with peaks at 6,000 to 7,500 m, including Mount Everest, the

Tibet Geography

highest one in the world. Chomo Langma or Mt. Everest, at the height of 29, 028 feet is the highest peak of Tibet. The average altitude in Tibet is about 3,000 m in the south and 4,500 m in the north. Tibet shares its boundaries on the north and east by China, on the west by the Kashmir Region of India and on the south by Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Geographically, Tibet can be divided into three main parts, the east, north and south. The eastern part is forest region, the northern part is open grassland and the southern and central part is agricultural region. Most of the major Tibetan cities and towns like Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse and Tsetang are located in the southern region. Mekong, Yangtse, Salween, Tsangpo, Yellow are the major rivers in Tibet.

Climate of Tibet
The climatic conditions in Tibet greatly vary from region to region and temperature distinctly waves within a single day. In the southeastern region of Tibet which includes, Nyingchi, the climate is gentle and temperate with the average temperature of eight degrees. In western Tibet like, in Nakqu, the average temperature is below zero degree. While in Lhasa and the central part of Tibet, the climate is usually normal and pleasant for traveling. It is neither ice-cold in winters nor too hot in summer. The months from March to October are considered best for travel. In general, Tibet is a dry land with not much rain and snow fall. An average snowfall is only 18 inches. Most of the annual rainfall comes in the rainy season that starts from May to September. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo area. The coldest months are from December to February and are not advisable for traveling.

Places of Interest in Tibet
Tibet has vast tourist attractions including Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. It contains varied natural, cultural, historical and religious places that offer unmatched beauty and adventure as well. Tibet is also a pilgrimage centre for Buddhists as it houses some of the most sacred places of the religion. One can visit Tibet for adventurous activities, Mt. Everest’s expedition, cultural exploration, and the pilgrimage etc. The main places for visit include Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse, New Tingri, Tsedang, Xegar, Zhangmu, Yamdrok Tso Lake, Nyalam etc.

Monasteries of Tibet

There were thousands of monasteries in Tibet. Due to spread of Buddhism, large number of monasteries were constructed and they became the main body of Tibetan culture and architecture. Every family was expected to send at least one boy to a monastery. Girls were also sent to monasteries as the monastery life used to be the only access to education and improved social status. People went to monasteries to get educated, to merit their family and to pursue religious fulfillment. Monasteries are still major centre of religion, education and cultural restoration. A monastery acts like a university. In addition to studying Buddhist scriptures, monasteries provided teachings on language, poetry, medicine, astronomy and calendar calculation. Many monasteries act like an administrative organ also, in old Tibetan society the monasteries enjoyed the administrative powers and ruled the land. Due to the expenditure of a large quantity of financial resources as well as a large amount of material resources, the monasteries emerged as the best embodiments of architectural achievements in Tibet. There are many mammoth Monasteries with its colossal structures and large area, like Drepang and Sera monasteries in Lhasa, Palkhor monastery in Gyantse, Tashilhunpo monastery in Shigatse, Rongbuk monastery, etc.


Fairs and Festivals in Tibet
Tibet has various festivals which commonly are performed to worship the Buddha throughout the year. Festivals are time when people painted their homes, dressed in new clothes, resolve quarrels, enjoy good food and wines, visit their friends and relatives, visit monasteries and offer prayers and indulge themselves in never ending enjoyment and happiness. The popular Tibetan festivals are the Butter Lamp Festival, Losar Festival, Shoton Festival, Saga Dawa Festival, Onkhor Festival and The Bathing Festival.

Tibet Festivals, Shigatse Festival Tibet

Culture of Tibet
Tibet has the richness and the depth of its traditions that is deep rooted in its cultural heritage. The wisdom, knowledge about life, compassion, tolerance and peace of mind, all contribute in making the culture of Tibet. The simplicity of life, the spirituality of minds and rich customs and traditions give a strong hold to this alpine region. The most stunning part of Tibetan culture is its performing arts. Every Tibetan can sing and dance. Be it music, dance or drama, they all have been unimaginably impervious to western influence.

People of Tibet

Tibetan people are optimistic, happy, warm and hospitable. Guests are always welcomed in Tibetan families. However, Tibetans are the main inhabitants on the plateau, Menpa, Luopa, Han Chinese, Hui, Sherpa, and a few Deng people also shared the population. According to the census conducted in 2000, there are 2.62 million people in Tibet, with 92.2 percent of the Tibetan population. Traditionally the people in small villages earned their livelihood from farming, the barely is the main crop here. The roaming nomads earned their living by herding yaks and sheep. In urban areas, most Tibetans made a living as craftsmen. However, nowadays more and more people are migrating into businesses. The official language of Tibet is Chinese but Tibetan is more widely spoken with its different dialects. Most Tibetans are devoted Buddhists and follow Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism is known as “Buddhism” with the local Tibetans and as Lamaism elsewhere in the outside world. There are also a few followers of old Bon, Islam and Catholicism in Tibet.

Languages in Tibet

Though the official language of Tibet is Chinese, Tibetans use their own language, the Tibetan language, known as bod-yig in Tibet inhabited areas. It is spoken in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and in parts of northern India such as Sikkim. It belongs to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Spoken Tibetan includes numerous regional dialects which, in many cases, are not mutually intelligible. According to geographical divisions, there are three major local dialects: Weizang, Kang and Amdo. The first two dialects have their own tones in pronunciation while the latter do not. The commonly called greater Tibetans language is spoken by approximately 6 million people across the Tibetan Plateau and another 150,000 exile speakers who have fled from modern-day Tibet to India and other countries. The writing script of Tibetan language was formed in early 7th century and is based on the ancient Sanskrit language of India. Tibetan language consists of thirty consonant, four vowels, five inverted letters (for the renting of foreign words) and the punctuations. Sentences are written from right to the left. With two major written scripts namely the regular script and the cursive hand, Tibetan language is widely used in all areas inhabited by Tibetans.


Cuisine of Tibet
The cuisine of Tibet mirrors the rich heritage of the region and people's adaptation to high altitude and religious culinary restrictions. The most important crop in Tibet is barley and the staple food of Tibet is Tsampa which is dough made from barley. Tsampa is either rolled into noodles or made into steamed dumplings known as Momos. Meat dishes are likely of yak, goat, or mutton, often dried, or cooked into a spicy stew with potatoes. Mustard seed is also cultivated in Tibet, and is an important ingredient of Tibetan cuisine. Yak yoghurt, butter and

Tibet Cuisine, Cuisine of Tibet

cheese are commonly eaten, and well-prepared yoghurt is considered something of a prestige item. The most favorite beverage of Tibet is salted butter tea.

Wildlife in Tibet
The animals found in Tibet are Wild yak, Bharal (blue) sheep, Musk deer, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan gazelle, Kyang (wild ass), Pica. The birds which are found in Tibet are Black necked crane, Lammergeier, Great crested grebe, Bar-headed goose, Ruddy shel duck, Ibis-bill.

Crafts of Tibet

Handicrafts in Tibet are quite unique and rare and their specializations are also quite incomparable. Sharp knives, as a handicraft product, are quite flattering. They are in-fact very beautiful to look at and the shape, decorations and attention given to the minutest of detail, will without a doubt leave you spellbound and definitely increases the temptation to possess one. Though you cannot carry a knife on a flight but you can definitely send them by post to your living place. So when you reach home, expect a shiny and sharp gift from Tibet, waiting for you. Other things that should be part of your shopping list in Tibet are Tibetan carpets, masks and rugs and Silver ornaments.

Tibetan Medicine System

Tibetan Medicine System is one of the oldest medicine forms in the world. It utilizes up to two thousand types of plants, forty animal species, and fifty minerals. One of the key figures in development of Tibetan medicine was the renowned eighth century physician Yutok Yonten Gonpo. He created the Four Medical Tantras assimilating material from the medical traditions of Persia, India and China. The tantras contained a total of 156 chapters in the form of Thangkas, which contain information about the archaic Tibetan medicine and the essences of medicines in other places. Yuthok Sarma Yonten Gonpo, the descendant of Yutok Yonten Gonpo, further strengthened the tradition by adding eighteen medical works. One of his books includes paintings depicting the resetting of a broken bone.

Train Journey in Tibet

The Lhasa Express train runs on the highest rail line in the world in Tibet. This is a special train that provides its passenger with oxygen canisters. The magical ride starts from Beijing and ends in the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa. The trip takes around 48 hours and covers a distance of around 2525 miles (4065 km). The climb from Golmund which is at 9000 feet to Tanggula pass at 16,640 feet is covered in mere six and a half hour. The journey through picturesque locations, showcasing the vista of mountainous landscape, the snow-clad mountains, the green foothills and the exciting sight of the Tibetan folklore will definitely be a lifetime experience. There is no better way of exploring the deepest of Tibet than a ride on the enchanting Lhasa Express.

How to reach Tibet
By Air

Twice-weekly flight operates between Kathmandu and Lhasa from the beginning of April through October and sometimes till November depending upon the weather conditions. The 55 minute flight offers spectacular views of the Himalayas and the southern Tibetan plateau.

By Road

An approach that has great appeal for hardy and adventurous travellers is to enter or leave Tibet by road, following the footsteps of explorers who for more than a century tried and usually failed to reach Lhasa overland.


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