An Introduction to Tibet Autonomous Region.
Random photo: Impressions of China
Tibet, a rich and beautiful land, is located at the main section of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, southwest frontier of China. About 100 million years ago, this place used to be a surging sea, with continuous collisions between the Indian Continent and the Eurasian Continent; this place was then gradually transformed into today’s “world roof.” The mountains in Tibet mainly include Mount Kunlun 昆仑山,Mount Tanggula 唐古拉山, Mount Nianqing Tangula 念青唐古拉山, Mount Gangdisi 冈底斯山, and Mount Everest (Mount Qomolangma known to the West as Mount Everest 8,848.13 meters high or 29,030.7 feet high) 喜马拉雅山.Rivers within Tibet include the Yarlung Tsangbo River 雅鲁藏布江 (the total length of the River being 2,900 kilometers, of which 1,787 kilometers within the boundaries of the Chinese territory, average elevation of the riverbed being over 3,000 meters), Jinsha River 金沙江 (a total length of 2,308 kilometers, the deepest valley being over 3,000 meters, one of the deepest valleys in the world,) Nujiang River怒江(the total length of the River being 3,200 kilometers, of which 1,540 kilometers within the boundaries of the Chinese territory), and Lancang River 澜沧江(the total length of the River being 4,500 kilometers, of which 1,612 kilometers within the boundaries of the Chinese territory). There are many lakes, the biggest one being Lake Namtso or Heavenly Lake in Tibetan 纳木错，藏语意为“天湖” (encompassing 1,940 square kilometers or 748.84 square miles) with an altitude of 4,718 meter. Most of Tibetan area belongs to plateau climate.
Pandita Saskya (1182-1251) was the fourth among five ancestors of the Saskya sect of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1247, he represented the rulers of Tibet in negotiations with the Yuan court and agreed to accept the Yuan rule. Following the Yuan Dynasty, both Ming and Qing dynasties sent officials to Tibet to supervise local affairs.
Great changes have taken place in Tibet over the past 50-odd years since the peaceful liberation in 1951. There was no industry in Tibet before the peaceful liberation. Over the past five decades Tibet has developed a modern industrial system, which covers power, light industry, textiles, petro-chemicals, machinery, forestry, building materials and ethnic handicraft industries. The region now has nearly 500 industrial enterprises. Before the peaceful liberation, there was only a small power station with a capacity of 125 kilowatts in Tibet, which supplied electricity only to the upper class. Following the peaceful liberation, the region has developed power generation by hydropower, geothermal, wind and solar energy.
There were no highways in Tibet before 1951, but today a road transportation network has taken shape and the region totals over 43,000 kilometers open to traffic. More than 80 per cent of the regions’ townships have access to highways. Air service has linked the region with Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Kunming and other domestic and international cities, adding that remarkable progress has also been made in the telecommunications sector.
Shannan area is acclaimed as the “Small Southern China小江南” for its mild weather and abundant agricultural products. Its animal husbandry plays an important role in Tibet, which is one of China’s major pasturelands. Local produce in Southeast Tibet includes various kinds of precious medicinal herbs such as the bulb of fritillary (fritillaria thunbergii) 贝母 and Chinese caterpillar fungus or cordyceps sineensis 冬虫夏草 short for 虫草.
In Tibetan, Lhasa means “the Land of Gods” or “Holy Place,” and it is also called “the Sunshine City.” Tibet has won the name of ‘the Ocean of Songs and Dances.’ The ethnic peoples living here are simple minded, they like to sing and dance unrestrainedly. Besides the Tibetan New Year, other lively festivals include the Shoton Festival 雪顿节 and the Harvest Festival 望果节. The Potala Palace is a tresure source of fine arts. Gandan Temple 甘丹寺, Sera Temple 色拉寺 and Drepung Monastery 哲蚌寺 are the three big lamaseries of the Yellow Sect of Buddhism. The main peak of Mount Gangdisi 冈底斯山 and the Lake Manasarova 玛旁雍错湖 are Buddhists “holy mountain” and “holy lake.” The world’s highest and perennially snow-capped peak—Qomolangma, is an objective pursued by many mountain-climbing favourites from all over the world. A center has been built in the core area of the nature reserve on the world’s highest mountain, Qomolangma. Catering to tourists, the center was completed by the end of 2002 and has an emergency room, oxygen room and provisions room, plus 16 hotel-style rooms. Meanwhile, a real-time environmental monitoring center and a mini-museum in the area has been built. The building complex, covering 1,050 square meters, is 8 kilometers from the mountain’s summit.
China is a unified multi-national country. As a member of the big family of the Chinese nationk, the Tibetan people have created and developed their brilliant and distinctive culture during a long history of continuous exchanges and contacts with other ethnic groups. Tibet is situated at 26°50′ to 26°53′ north latitude and 78°25′ to 99°06′ east longitude. Its average sea level is over 4,000 meters. There are more than 50 mountains with an elevation of 7,000 meters, of which 11 mountains being 8,000 meters. The climate in Tibet is cold, low air pressure, and thin air, and Tibet is reputed as the “Roof of the World.”
Tibet shares borders with Bhutan India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Myanmar.
Tourism is one area that provides an immediate indicator of change and progress. Tourism has developed rapidly in Tibet. In 2003, Tibet received 928,600 tourists from both home and abroad, and the total income from tourism made up 5.6 per cent of the GDP in Tibet.
With an altitude of 3,700 meters, Lhasa has a history of over 1,300 years. Sunlight time reaches more than 3,000 hours, and Lhasa is also known as the “Sunlight City.”
Xigaze, a famous historical and cultural city, has a history of 500 years. Its altitude is 3,800 meters.
Tibetan temples mean Buddhist temples in Tibet. Since Buddhism in Tibet is popularly known as Lamaism, Tibetan monasteries are also known as lamaseries. Famous monasteries in Tibet include Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery大昭寺, Ser a Temple 色拉寺, Gandan Monastery 甘丹寺, Drepung Monastery哲蚌寺, (Lhasa), Tashilumpo Monastery 扎什伦布寺, (Xigaze), Shajia Monastery 萨迦寺, and Baiju Monastery 白居寺.
The structure of Tibetan monasteries has distinctive characteristics of the Tibetan nationality, magnificent and novel in style. Different sects of Buddhism have their own special features in architecture, which vividly reflect the development and vicissitudes of Buddhism in Tibet. In the 7th century, the Esoteric Buddhism introduced from India, the Mahayana Buddhism introduced from places where the Han people lived and the Bon religion, which originally existed in Tibet, combined to form the Buddhism of Tibet. The Tibetan Buddhism especially emphasizes Esoteric Buddhism, sincerely believes in the inexorable fate of the universe, the inconstancy of everything, retribution for sin, transmigration of souls, practice of Buddhism conduct and liberation from worldly cares etc. In its religious activities, importance is attached to chanting incantations, offering sacrifices to god, etc. Eminent monks are called “Lama,” being an honourable title. In the 7th century, Songtsan Gampo (617?-650), King of Tubo, believed in Buddhism, founded the Tibetan language, built temples and translated scriptures. All these forcefully promoted the forming of Tibetan Buddhism, which gradually prevailed over the original Bon Religion and became dominating. However, in the middle of 9th century, King Langema encouraged Bon Religion and wiped out Buddhism, dealing a crushing blow to Buddhism.
After more than 100 years, Buddhism revived in Tibet. In order to gain a firm foothold and win more believers, Buddhism at that time attached importance to absorbing national features of Tibetan area. Owing to the difference in the practice of Buddhist conducts and in the system of inheritance in the 11th century, Tibetan Buddhism developed into four main sects: Red Sect, Flowery Sect, White Sect, and Yellow Sect. Every sect had its tight temple organization and system of studying scriptures. In the later part of the 13th century, propped up by the Yuan Dynasty, the lamas of upper level began to exercise the control over the local political power of Tibet and the unification of political and religious affairs. In the beginning of the 15th century, under the leadership of Tsong Kha-pa (1357-1419) the Yellow Sect carried out reform. This sect gradually gained power and later with the support of the Qing Dynsty, controlled the power in political and religious affairs of Tibet. The Yellow Sect practiced the system of successive incarnations of two great living Buddhas. On e is Dalai Lama, and the other is Panchen. The present Panchen is the 11th in a series. Tibetan Buddhism has also spread to Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Inner Mongolia and the places such as Bhutan and Nepal. Tibtan Buddhism has had very important influence on the history, culture, and economic development of Tibet. The Tibetan temples should not only be places for religious activities, but also important places to understand Tibetan Buddhism as well as the culture and history of the Tibetan nationality.
Shoton Festival 雪顿节
Shoton means “yogurt banquet” in Tibetan and the festival, which is also called the Tibetan Opera Festival, is held every year on the first day of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar, and usually lasts seven days in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. It runs for about two weeks in other places in Tibet. It has been celebrated in the region for more than 300 years. Festival activities including a performance gala, Tibetan opera, folk songs and dances, horsemanship, concerts, a fashion show and an exhibition of native products of Tibet are also staged during the festival. At the opening ceremony of the festival Tibetan performers blow traditional trumpets on stage.
The Yarlung Zangbo (Yalu Tsangpo) River 雅鲁藏布江
The Yarlung Zangbo River Gorge, which stretches 496 kilometers and has an average depth of more than 5,000 meters, presents a major challenge for many hardy adventurers.
The Yarlung Zangbo River (with a total length of 2,900 kilometers, of which 1,787 kilometers within the boundaries of the Chinese Territory), which has its source on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, flows at the highest elevation of any River in the world and consists of surging rapids and dangerous shoals.
Sakya Monastery 萨迦寺
Built in 1073, the Sakya Monastery, located 450 kilometers west of Lhasa, has long enjoyed nearly the same fame as the Dunhuang Grottoes for its large collection of Buddhist scriptures, valuable porcelain and vivid wall paintings dating back nearly one thousand years. The most valuable objects in the collection are ancient vases presented by emperors of different periods of the Yuan Dynasty to the leader of the Sakya sect. Other valuables include a jade bowl, a gold-plated Buddha, imperial shoes and a gold seal. Other exhibits, on display at the Tibet Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, show that the Yuan Dynasty divided Tibet into three military areas with 15 districts. The museum contains letters of appointments of Tibetan officials by the Ming emperors and the certificates and seals of emperors of the Qing Dynasty used inn appointing Dalai and Panchen lamas. It also has a picture showing the ceremony of the 14th Dalai Lama ascending the holy throne, presided over by Kuomintang government officials, as well as documents on the peaceful liberation of Tibet signed by the central government and the government of Tibet. An imposing array of valuable cultural relics on display at the Sakya Monastery in Lhasa prove that Tibet became part of China in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 ) and has remained under the administration of the central government of China since that time.
Old Castle Turned into a Tourist Resort 旧城堡变成旅游区
China has turned Zongshan Castle, a former battleground where Tibetan residents fought British troops in early 20th century, into a tourist resort. The castle lies in Gyangze, one of the four major cities in Tibet, and was the site of major battles between local people and the invading British army. Crowns of visitors now climb to the mountaintop and have their photographs taken in front of cannons and the castle’s crumbing walls. In the Winter of 1903, a British force of 3,000 troops set out from India for a second round attacks on Tibet. Local soldiers and militiamen met them. The British troop, equipped with machine guns and cannons,, opened fire on some 1,000 local soldiers armed mostly with knives firelocks and pikes. The fighting turned so fierce that local lamas volunteered for service. In the end, those soldiers who did not die in battle jumped off a cliff. The Gyangze Memorial Museum now exhibits some of the firelocks and pikes used by the Tibetan soldiers as well as British shells and bullets. The museum’s most impressive item on display is a cannon, presented by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty, which was used in the battle against the British. The Chinese characters engraved on the cannon are still clearly visible.
More About The Tibet Autonomous Region
- Lhasa Introduction
Lhasa Introduction Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
- Qinghai-Tibet Railway
Qinghai-Tibet Railway More than 960 kilometers of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway is built at an altitude of over 4,000 meters.
- Yarlung Zangbo In Tibet
Yarlung Zangbo In Tibet The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon In Tibet Autonomous Region.