- In: About Nangchen
There are countless places of interest between Xining and Nangchen, in fact in the entire Eastern Tibet of Amdo and Kham. The main places are briefly mentioned for your reference.
XINING (Ziling 2275m)
Xining is the only large city in Qinghai and is the capital of the province. It has been a military garrison and trading center since the 16th century. The population of Xining is mostly Muslim (25%), Chinese, Mongolian, and very few Tibetans live in the town. However, it has become an important center for Tibetan Studies. The city developed through trade between China and Persia, linking with the famous Silk Road to the north. Buddhist masters such as Fa Xian passed this way en-route to India.
26km southwest of Xining, about 40 minutes' bus ride, is the county of Huangzhong (Tib. Rushar), where Kumbum Jampaling or Ta-er Si in Chinese, one of the greatest monasteries of Tibet is located. Kumbum Jampaling Monastery, covering 41 hectares in total area, was founded in 1560 to commemorate the birthplace of Tsongkhapa by Rinchen Tsondru Gyaltsen. The monastery was built around the tree that marked Tsongkhapa's actual birthplace, where his mother, Shingza Acho, had constructed a stupa (kumbum) in 1379.
QINGHAI LAKE (Tso-ngon 3205m)
Qinghai Lake, known as Tso-Ngon in Tibetan and Kokonor in Mongolian, is the largest salt water lake on the Tibetan Plateau, renowned for its breathtaking scenery and thriving bird sanctuary for cormorants, bar-headed geese, black-necked cranes, etc.
YUSHU (Jyekundo 3700m)
During the Tang Dynasty, Yushu was part of the ancient Tang-Tibet trade route from Chang'an (the present day Xi'an, the capital of Tang Dynasty) to Lhasa, Tibet. Yushu prefecture or Jyekundo was named after the town's illustrious hill-top monastery, Jyekundo Dondrubling. The monastery was constructed on the site blessed by the great Sakyapa master, Drogon Choygal Phagpa, who taught here while he was on his way to Mongolia.
About 20km south of Yushu is the famed Bida gorge, surrounded by four sacred peaks. There are rock inscriptions, some of which were self-arisen. According to legend, after King Songtsen Gampo received Princess Wencheng, they stayed here for a month before continuing southwest towards Lhasa. Princess Wencheng had the craftsmen accompanying her carved nine images with Buddha Vairocana as the central figure, flanked by eight Bodhisattvas. The statue of Vairocana apparently contains the relics of Buddha Kashyapa and the remains of Princess Wencheng's deceased child.
Subsequently when Princess Jincheng (the mother of King Trisong Deutsan) passed through in 710 AD, she commissioned a shrine hall to be constructed and this was expanded in 730 AD. This temple was traditionally maintained by the Drikung Lineage, but it is currently in the care of the neighboring Karma Kagyu's Thrangu Monastery.
On 14 April 2010, an earthquake struck the Yushu prefecture, registering a magnitude of 6.9. Many of the monasteries and historical monuments were destroyed and restoration is underway.
NANGQIAN (Nangchen between 3500 to 4000m)
There are over 30 monasteries and their branches, affiliated with the Drukpa Lineage, in Nangchen. Among them, His Eminence the Eighth Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche's Tshechu Monastery is the most revered. His Eminence the Eighth Satrul Rinpoche's Trulshik Monastery and His Eminence Jamme Choesin and His Eminence Jamme Lhamchok Rinopches' Jamme Monastery are also very important Drukpa monasteries in Nangchen. The famed Gechak Nunnery and its branches are also located here. This nunnery and its branches belong to Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche of the Drukpa Lineage and about less than a century ago, in its hey day, had over 3000 yoginis spending their entire life in strict retreat.
About the holy mountains related to the Drukpa Lineage
In the Tibetan Himalayas, there are six important mountains "discovered" and consecrated by great masters of the Drukpa Lineage. Among them, four are located in Nangchen, one is the famed Mount Kailash where Gotsangpa charted the route for circumambulation of the Mountain and the Lakes and started the tradition of circumambulation, and the other one is Tsari in southern Tibet, located very close to Druk Sangag Choeling Monastery. It was the First Gyalwang Drukpa Tsangpa Gyare who discovered part of the holy pilgrimage site of Tsari, a powerful palce sacred to Chakrasamvara. At this unusual site, he personally saw his tutelary deity Chakrasamvara who prophesized that he would be the future Buddha Möepa. According to the secret instructions of the dakinis, he also made accessible many hidden treasures of Dharma (terma) in southern Tibet.
The four holy mountains of the Drukpa Lineage in Nangchen are:
- Sarma Yang Dzong (gsar.ma.yang.rdzong) - located near Trulshik Monastery, discovered by the Tenth Gyalwang Drukpa and Choegyal Dorje.
- Zi Gyal (gzi.rgyal) - located at the border of Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region, discovered by the Third Khamtrul Rinpoche Ngawang Kunga Tenzin
- Pa Gyal (pa.rgyal) - located near Tsechu Monastery, discovered by the Third Khamtrul Rinpoche Ngawang Kunga Tenzin
- La Dzo (bla.rdzo) - located near Tsechu Monastery, discovered by the Six Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche and the First Drubwang Tsoknyi