Lhasa-Ganden G-Drigungtil G-Dozong spa
This monastery is above a village which we skirt around to reach it. It has been rebuilt and is associated with a large white chorten. We then return down poor track to take the road to Ganden.
Abstract= We start for a 4 day trip on the N-E of Lhasa. On the southern bank of Kyi chu we visit Tsechokling G, then Ganden G before the valley of Gyama, Katsel G and Drigungtil G to the guesthouse at the famous Dozong spa.
Lhasa. We leave Lhasa at nearly 9h00. After the bridge, we follow the valley which is in front of us in order to visit Drib Tsechokling G. This monastery is one of the four from where the Regents were issued.
The road which goes up the Kyi chu valley is well maintained and bitumised. After nearly fifteen kilometres, we stop to visit the small monastery of Tshamdo which is on the left hand side in the heart of the village.
We continue towards the prefecture of Taktse which is surmounted by the ruins of old Dechen Dzong. The road passes between the hill surmounted by the fort and the ridge of the mountain on the right.
We go up the valley of Kyi chu until we meet a "menda" and a track which carries on after many bends to the monastery of Ganden nearly one kilometre above the Kyi chu level in a desolate area. It is difficult to imagine that this was entirely destroyed, given the progress of its reconstruction. It seems that the monastery that housed nearly 10 000 monks in the past is nearly half rebuilt. There are currently only two hundreds monks.
This monastery is built under the mountain crest and faces due E. The Temples are cathedral sized and we attend several religious services during our visit.
Temples had been rebuilt without architects or building company. At the first floor several boys are printing sacred texts with carved wooden plates, one prayer, one page, on average the rythm is one page every three seconds. They do not take any notice of tourists tas we are of no interest for the improvement of their karma. This place is far from cities but there are always hundreds of pilgrims who pass and pass again around us. A echo of prayers is singing in our ears, as on the summits of mountains, gods fill all space.....
We cannot follow any group because they walk too quickly for us. For westerners, prayers can only be made in a quiet place and recited slowly. Here it seems that all these people will go farming after leaving the monastery, and stay here only long enough to meet the spiritual forces which are essential to their life. They wink at us with compassion, the prayer wheels do not cease turning, the women with tin cans full of butter fill up oil lamps, young children move slowly ahead their hands close to their mouth, just ahead their mother's. Everyone deposits a small banknote on each altar, sometimes a pilgrim prosternates in front of an altar, mouths murmur prayers all around us, the message of the saints is omnipresent and will not leave them wherever they go and will trouble us.
It is difficult to explain how in less than ten years 4 cathedral size buildings and tenths of two storey buildings have been built without architects or any building construction company at the top of this desolated mountain.
We return along the same terrible track which brought us here. Of course the Chinese do everything to discourage the arrival of these people and they never do any maintenance on the tracks which lead to the monasteries, but nothing can stop the Tibetans in the exercise of their faith. We continue to a valley on our right.
We travel several kilometres then 400m to our right we see a series of large white chortens. Five kilometres further, we enter the village of Gyama.
It is said that the king Srontsen Gampo was born here. In the center of the village, there is large a chorten which looks like a truncated tower of an antiquated style.
150m from there, towards the E, we find the very small monastery of Gyama.
We turn back to the main road (in the Kyi chu valley). In the Chinese city of Metro Gongkar we lunch in a small Tibetan restaurant. There is a large valley on the right which goes to Bayi. We pass the Prefecture of Kongpo Gyamda and cross the river in this valley. On the northern side of the bridge, facing the Chinese city where we lunched is the Tibetan village of Katsel.
Further, along the road off to the right, is an enclosure of the monastery. In the courtyard, there are two temples which we visit.
After the monastery along the road a series of 4 chortens.
We continue to go up the Kyi chu valley which narrows a little. The valley is well cultivated. We cross several villages before reaching Drigung at the crossroads of four valleys.
The bridge is still being constructed hence we ford the river coming from the S-E.
The village lies to the E. We continue straight towards a N-E valley, another tributary of the Kyi chu. We follow a narrow valley where cultures are rare. After having continued on the southern bank we pass onto the northern bank just before the village of Tromda. We continue then to the monastery of Drigungtil.
As the monastery was half way up the slope of the mountain we overshoot it of more than one kilometre before taking a long track back, that climbs steeply up the mountainside up to to a small car park area at the entry of the monastery. To photograph the fronts was difficult because there was no room for stepping back. We visit two chapels and several caves of meditation on the mountainside. We were not alone as there were several trucks full of pilgrims. This monastery was founded in the 12th century and was reknown for the cave retreats. After the visit we go back down the valley nearly 5/10 km before meeting on our right a narrow valley lies due north.
The track is terrible but it leads to the thermal spa of Dozong. We meet a group of 3 nuns on the road and the driver insists they come with us. Sitting in the front of the car, I have a girl sitting on my knees.
Arriving at the village, the valley is barred by tens of solids cords of approximately one kilometre length covered with lungtas which overhang the village throughout the valley. An extraordinary spectacle I will never forget. Here space belongs in its entirely to the Gods. The majority of the houses are scattered on the mountainsides.
There is a pretty white chorten, above a small monastery of nuns. At the bottom, below the village, the guesthouse and the healing bath. For people suffering from certain skin diseases, the cure can be particularly effective, hence Dozong is famous in all over Tibet. A wall 1m70 high separates the baths for men from the one for women. As Olivier is 1m90 tall and is able to see over the wall, it causes general amusement. The women are not really upset and are the first to laugh.
The guide prepares fried potatoes himself in the kitchen. The room is spartan and there are no wash basin for our ablutions.