Tibet - "Top
of the World"
The area of Tibet (TAR) is more than three times the swedish, approx. 1.2
mill. sq km,
which is about 1/8 of Chinas area. Tibet is the highest inhabited highaltituded area in
the world, 4 - 5000 mas. The major part of the country is stonedesert and is situated on
the same latitude as the Sahara desert in Africa.
Tibet is sparsely populated and the tibetans belongs to the mongolian etchnic
tibetan language is belonging to the Tibeto-Burmese language family.
Tibet is a very old nation and was founded about 627 AC, when King Songtsen Gampo finshed
his fathers work to unity several smaller kingdoms. In 641 AC he introduced Buddhism and
started to build the Jokhang and the Ramoche temples in Lhasa.
The historical Tibet includes the provinces of U-Tsang, Kham och Amdo and was once 2.5
million sq km large. The province of Amdo and the major part of the province of Kham are
today integrated, occupied, with China. Tibet of today, The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR),
comprises less than half of the historic country and was created by China on
September 9, 1965 of administrative reasons. The area of TAR is approx. 1.2
mill. sq km
which is less than 50 % of the original area.
In 1949 the chinese started the invasions of Tibet who culminated on October 7, 1950 when
more than 40 000 chinese soldiers attacked, and went into eight different tibetan regions.
On March 10, 1959 the tibetans started one of the largets protest actions against the
chinese occupation. On March 17, Dalai Lama and more than 80 000 tibetans flew to
On March 19, tibetan troops joined the peoples uprising. On March 23 the uprising was
suppressed. In April the chinese started "democratic reforms" which resulted in
that thousands of tibetans were executed, sent to prison or to labour-camps. Destruction
of monasteries began.
Dalai Lama has since 1959 not been allowed to return to his country, or to his
struggle for a free Tibets since his exile resulted in the Nobels Peace Prize in 1989.
During the chinese "Cultural Revolution", 1966 - 1976, more than 6 200
monasteries and other religious buildings were destroyed! Some of them has now been
rebuilt or restored by the tibetans. Regretfully many cultural treasures are dissapeared
I came to Tibet by trekking the old pilgrim-trail from Simikot in Nepal to
Sher in Tibet. The trail openened for trekkers in 1993, if you go in a
group and hire a nepalese liason officer. Simikot is accessible with plane from the town Nepalgunj.
The trail follows the river Humla Karnali and it takes 5
- 6 days to trekk, with support from a nepalese staff. You follow the beutiful and fertile
Humla Karnali valley from 2 900 mas and reach the highest point at Nara
Langa, 4 550 mas, just before the tibetan border. After crossing the Humla-river
you have to climb up hill to the chinese border control in the small village of Sher.
From Sher I went to Darchen, a small barren village on the big Bharka-plain.
Darchen is located close to the holy mountain Kailash, which is
considered to be the most holy pilgrim-target by four asian religions; hindus,
jain and bon, the old tibetan religion. Late april/beginning of May the Saga
Dawa festival takes place at Tarboche, close to
Hundred of pilgrims gather for celebrating, and doing "The Kailash Kora",
a holy trekk that gives remission of sins and rebirth. The famous swedish explorer Sven
Hedin was the first westerner to walk the khora in 1907.
The area around Kailash is considered to be one of the most
remote areas on earth to visit according to Lonely Planet, and for that reason
very few tourists have been here.
After participating in the Saga Dawa festival I started the more than 1 200 kilometer long
journey to Lhasa. The trip was made in a 4-WD jeep and a truck with food and fuel
which is the only possibilty to make this trip through this wast and barren land,
sometimes with no road available.
When driving on the big plain you meet drokpas, the nomads, living here
with their yak- and sheepherds. If you are lucky you will be invited to their
On the trip to Lhasa I also visited Tibets second largets town Shigatse.
Here the important Tashilunpo monastery is located. The monastery is the
home of Panchen Lama, Tibets second highest religious
In Gyantse you find the Kumbum stupa,
an architectural masterpiece, with a mix of tibetan, nepalese and chinese religious
The highest located monastery in the world can be found in Rongbuk,
approx. 5 000 mas, on the foothills of Mount Everest. It was heavily
damaged during the chinese "Culturerevolution" but is now rebuilt and run by
nuns. If the weather is to bad for camping, you can rent a room, very dirty but
from the nuns. Rongbuk is a good starting point for trekks to, or beyond, the Everest
My five week long journey through Tibet ended in the capital Lhasa, a
city founded more than 1 600 years ago. Today there are more chinese inhabitants in the
city than tibetans, which gives you a strange feeling. Here I visited the Potala-palace,
founded by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1649, and since than home of the all the Dalai Lamas.
Here you also can visit the Jokhang temple, Tibets oldes and most
Inside the temple you find the statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, The Present
Buddha. The temple was founded by King Songtsen Gampo in the 5th century. The big
protestactions against the chinese occupation in 1959 started in the Jokhang, and the
outcome of the protests were severe with many tibetans killed, imprisoned or sent to
In the heart of Bharkor, the old town, encircling the
Jokhang, you can
join the tibetans in a khora, which gives you good possibilities to get a glimpse of
peoples common life.
The Drepung and Sera monasteries are located just outside
Lhasa, and are
two very interesting places to visit.
The Drepung monastery was once the largest in the world housing 10 000
monks. It was heavily damaged during the culturerevolution, but is now restored into good
condition. Today only about 1 000 monks are living here. Close by is the temple where the
The Sera monastery is an attractive touristtarget in the
the monks have their debatinghour in the garden. With high voices and strong gestures the
monks are training to argument and convince each other.
The Sera monks once predicted the chinese invasion when they saw Tibetan Goods figthing
demons and lost the battle. At the same time the Buddha with the Horsehead started to
bleed. During my visit the monastery was under renovation.
Highest points during the trip:
The trek from Everest Base Camp towards the Rongbuk-glacier,
approx. 5 300 mas.
Lamar La, 5 662 mas, on the road from Tingri to Rongbuk
was the highest pass we drove over. The view from the pass is called "Top of
the World". From here you can see four of the highest
mountains in the world, if you are lucky, Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu
and Cho Oyo.
The impressons from the trip through Tibet were strong and thrilling. It was not an
easy trip, very cold and demanding days in the jeep or in the tents, but the memories and
impression have for ever changed my view of the tibetan people and the country.
The tibetan people deserves all possible support in their struggle for a Free