Tibet: First Impression

Tibet: First Impression. Tashilhunpo Monastery, built 1447 in Shigatse, Tibet.
Tashilhunpo Monastery, built 1447 in Shigatse, Tibet.

Tibet’s Himalayan mountain range serves not only as the home of world’s tallest mountains and plateaux, but also as the source of some of world’s major rivers systems.

Tibet, an autonomous region of China, extends over the world’s highest plateau at an average of 4,500 meters (15,000 ft). Its Himalayan mountain range hosts the world’s tallest mountains. It is also the source of some of world’s major rivers, like the Yangtze, the Yellow River, the Mekong, and the Ganges. Prior to PRC’s de facto takeover in 1950, Tibet had been governed by a theocratic government headed by the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama.
Violent conflicts have been a reoccurring theme in the decades since. Issues of civil liberty, property rights, cultural assimilation, on that account, are highly sensitive topics in the area. One example being the ubiquitous presence of military police across the region. Not only are foreigners required to be accompanied by travel guides for the whole length of their trip, they would also be inspected of their travel permit at various check points.

Tibet: First Impression. On the Himalayan range with a view of Everest summit on a clear day. Tibet: First Impression. Yamdrok Lake, at 72km long, is the largest freshwater lake in Tibet. Tibet: First Impression. Close to sunrise at the Himalayan mountain range in Zhaguoxiang, southern Tibet. The photo shows the summit of Mount Everest (top left).

Despite government’s forced cultural assimilation, ethnic Tibetan still constitutes 90% of the region’s population while traditional Tibetan culture remains distinct and magnificent.

The dominant language spoken among the local population is Tibetan. Recent government-sponsored migration of Han Chinese, however, has made Mandarin Chinese more common, especially in tourist-heavy areas of its capital, Lhasa, and to a certain degree, Shigatse.

Waves of Han migration has sparked protests among Tibetans concerned about increasing erosion of political and cultural autonomy. This led to some serious conflicts in recent years.

Driving along the G-318 highway to Tingri unveils landscape that one is never going to forget. Aside from the magnificent mountains and terrain of strange colours (land stays barren due to high elevation and lack of oxygen), one sees scattered settlements of Drokpa.

Drokpa are indigenous nomads living in the arid climate of the Tibetan plateau. They are primarily goat and yak herders often seen wearing earth elements on their face to prevent sunburn.

Tibet: First Impression. Drokpa children in a camp close to the G-318 highway near Tingri. Tibet: First Impression. Drokpa, a group of indigenous nomad living in the arid climate of the Tibetan plateau. Tibet: First Impression. Barkhor Street, an ancient street surrounding the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. Tibet: First Impression. City of Shigatse, Tibet. Tibet: First Impression. Tibetan women working a temple's roof maintenance.

Many parts of the region are simply surreal and feels as if it is out of this world. No pictures or words can do justice to this enchanting land from the ancient past.

Despite their nomadic tradition, Chinese government has been trying to settle them in urban settings. This controversial move raises the issue of civil and property rights and undermines their traditional way of life. Currently, those “third-class citizens”, as many would call themselves, experience serious poverty, unemployment and social exclusions.
Despite forced cultural assimilation, ethnic Tibetan still constitutes more than 90% of the region’s population and traditional Tibetan culture remains distinct and magnificent. Many parts of the region are simply surreal and feels as if it is out of this world. No pictures or words can do justice to this enchanting land from the ancient past.

Tibet: First Impression. Tibetan artist at work. Tibet: First Impression. Tashilhunpo Monastery, built 1447 in Shigatse, Tibet. Tibet: First Impression. Tibetan women performing kora around stupas holding their prayer wheels. Tibet: First Impression. Tibetan man turning prayer wheels, a religious artifact used to accumulate wisdom and merit. Turning the wheels reinforces the Sanskrit text on the surface and removes bad karma.

 

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