Highlights from our 2017 Pilgrimage to Central Tibet & Mt. Kailash!

Sangha Journeys spends a lot of time planning the details of our trip itineraries. One of our goals is to offer many opportunities for pilgrims to make living, authentic, connections with the sacred sites and find inspiration for their spiritual paths. Here are some highlights from 2017 

Jokhang Temple. The Jokhang is the spiritual heart of Lhasa and of Tibetan Buddhism. The most sacred of all temples, it's home to a very special Shakyamuni statue. Texts such as the 11th century Vase-Shaped Pillar Testament suggest that the Jowo Shakyamuni was sculpted from a life portrait of the Buddha. In the 7th century the Chinese princess, Wencheng is said to have brought it to Tibet as part of her marriage dowry to emperor Songtsen Gampo in 641.

 Tibetan pilgrims praying outside the Jokhang. Photo Dechen Steele.

Tibetan pilgrims praying outside the Jokhang. Photo Dechen Steele.

 Main temple and black stupa at Samye. Photo Dechen Steele.

Main temple and black stupa at Samye. Photo Dechen Steele.

Samye. Samye was the first Buddhist monastery built in Tibet during the time of King Trisong Detsen (8th century). This architectural complex is a model of Mahayana Buddhist cosmology featuring the main temple and peripheral branch temples that represent Mt. Meru and the four continents. The buildings have been re-constructed throughout the centuries. Today, there are four gates, four stupas, the central temple and satellite temples and just in the past two years, great landscaping. It's truly an incredible place!

Tsogyal Latso. Tsogyal Latso is the birthplace of Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal. Cradled in a valley that legend honors as the abode of Vajra Varahi and Saraswati, it is well known for Tsogyal's life-force lake or latso that spontaneously arose at her birth. Within walking distance are two natural springs believed to flow with Tsogyal's miraculous breast milk, the original life-force tree that nourished her as a baby, and a stupa marking her actual birthplace.

Our 2017 group enjoying the springs at Tsogyal Latso. Video Dechen Steele.

 We made it! Our 2017 group, after the 3 day Mt. Kailash circuit. Photo Laura Marchelya.

We made it! Our 2017 group, after the 3 day Mt. Kailash circuit. Photo Laura Marchelya.

"Tibetans are doing kora around Kailash because we believe it is a home of Buddha and countless deities. Kora cleanses bad karma that we have gained via so many lifetimes, and it is believed that it is not only helpful after death but brings good luck and prosperity in our present life." -Tsewang Lhamo, our 2017 guide with Road To Tibet

Mount Kailash. Located in Western Tibet, Kailash is sacred to almost one-fifth of humankind. Serving as the watershed of South Asia, its magnificent peak lies near the source of the Indus, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Rivers. Kailash is an interfaith pilgrimage site shared by Buddhists, Hindus, Bonpos, and Jains. Following traditions that span a millennium, every year thousands of pilgrims travel to circumambulate on foot. Starting at 4,600 m./15,000 ft. and going as high a 5,500 m./18,200 ft., trekking or pilgrimage around Kailash takes about three days.

Mount Everest. This is the highest mountain in the world. The most common Tibetan name for Everest is Chomolungma, meaning Goddess Mother of the World or Goddess of the Valley. The Sanskrit name, Sagarmatha, means Peak of Heaven.

 North face of Everest peaking out of the morning clouds. Photo Laura Marchelya.

North face of Everest peaking out of the morning clouds. Photo Laura Marchelya.

 Dakini Day at Lake Manasarovar. Photo Laura Marchelya.

Dakini Day at Lake Manasarovar. Photo Laura Marchelya.

Lake Manasarovar. This is the world's highest freshwater lake. At the southern foot of Mt. Kailash, the lake is exceptionally beautiful. According to Hindu mythology, it was created by Lord Brahma. According to Buddhism, it is said that Lord Buddha was conceived at this very lake and that Padmasambhava spent his last seven days in Tibet here at the lakeshore Chi'u Monastery.

Guge Kingdom. Founded in the 10th century by a descendant of a Tibetan King, Guge's emergence marked the second promulgation of Buddhism in Tibet. Lost in the 17th century under mysterious circumstances, it was rediscovered in the 1930's by the Italian explorer, Guiseppe Tucci.  Today the area includes houses, caves, monasteries, stupas, sculptures, carvings and well-preserved original murals.

 Reconstructed monastery on the top of hill amongst the ancient ruins. Photo Dechen Steele

Reconstructed monastery on the top of hill amongst the ancient ruins. Photo Dechen Steele

Author: Dechen Steele

EducationalMaria Steele