Archive for the ‘Yunnan Travel’ Category

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Dwells Your Soul

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
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Around 3:40 pm, 13 October, we leave the earthly paradise – Pudacuo ( or Potatso 普达措 ), and drive up to the road back to the downtown of Shangri-la and then get to our today’s final stop  – Ganden Sumtseling Monastery (Songzanlin Monastery 噶丹·松赞林寺 in Chinese).

Located only 3 km north of the downtown, Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is not just a monastery, but a large monastic complex that includes several lamaseries, halls, colleges, libraries, separate living quarters for monks and for the high lamas.

“Ganden Sumtseling” literally means ” The monastery is set up in order to fully understand the Teachings of the Buddha and let them to benefit the mass and have the rebirth in Buddhism”. The name was given by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1679 when the monastery was built at the patronage of Kangxi Emperor (r.1662-1722) in Qing Dynasty. It was completed in 1681. Part of the group buildings of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in 1960s and in 1980s it was rebuilt.

Now Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan Province, oft-lauded as ” Little Potala Palace”.  It belongs to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelukpa order of the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Chen suggests we don’t enter the huge monastic complex given the time left for the remainder of the day and try to locate a photo spot instead to take pictures of the grandeur holy place and view the monastery in sunset glow.

Parking our vehicle in the parking lot attached to the Tourist Service Center of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Scenic Area,  we enter the clean and spacious service center. We are requested to purchase an entrance ticket 115 yuan (including the shuttle service from the center to the monastery). Getting on the shuttle bus, Mr. Chen asks the bus driver to drop us off at the lake area instead of the final stop of the monastery. We’ve learned that the lake in front of the monastery offers good photo spots to shoot the monastery from the boardwalk winding over the lake.

After 15-minute bus ride, we disembark the shuttle bus and see a swamp lake south of the shiny and massive group buildings throught the left-side trees and bushes. Very soon we spot a zigzag road down to the lake below. When we come up to the lake, we see a well-maintained boardwalk running over the marsh lake south of the monastic architechures.

While we are walking down to the lake from the roadside mound, the legant and huge buildings of the monastery are clearly presented before us.

the legant and huge buildings of the monastery is clearly presented before us
The legant and huge buildings of the monastery are clearly presented before us

A signboard on a handrail of the boardwalk has a brief introduction to the lake both in Chinese and English. The lake is known as Lamuyangcuo Lake (拉姆央措湖). “Lamuyangcuo”, literally “A Lake for the Soul of Heaven Fairy”,  is a holy place to dwell the soul of the Godess of Bandanlama.

Lamuyangcuo Lake is just in front of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. It is a seasonal and plateau wetland lake fed by springs and surface water. There are some waterfowl on the lake like black-necked cranes, yellow duks and more.

Lamuyangcuo Lake
The boardwalk circles the lake offers a spectacular view of the Monastery.

Walking on the timber walkway, you can easliy find a good spot to view the magnificent group builidngs of the monastery. The main structure built in Tibetan style has a gold-covered copper roof similar to the one at the Potala Monastery in Lhasa.

The buildings of the spectacular Ganden Sumtseling Monastery have stunnng inverted reflections in the water of the holy lake.

The main structure built in Tibetan style
The main structure built in Tibetan style with reflection on the water

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery looks like a castle, a walled complex with group buildings including living quarters for monks and high lamas.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is a walled complex with group buildings
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is a walled complex with group buildings

On the right side of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery are Milk River Wetland and Conggulong Village.

Milk River Wetland and Conggulong Village
Conggulong Village and Milk River Wetland

On our right side, we see two barley racks on the high mound

 On our right side, we see two barley racks on the high mound
On our right side, we see two barley racks on the high mound

This is a piece of happy land where human beings, animals, and nature live in harmony.  Two Tibetan youths posed standing on the boardwalk with the backdrop of the monastery.

human beings, animals, and nature live in harmony.
Two Tibetan youths posed standing on the boardwalk

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is in sunset glow, a tranquil place to dwell your soul.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is in sunset glow
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is in sunset glow

Be sure to be back on the roadside to wait for the last shuttle bus at 7:00 pm and return to the service center.  Any questions,  just drop a line.

Add-on

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Mangkang to Deqin
Kawagarbo Viewed from Feilaisi
Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la (Zhongdian)
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Dwells Your Soul
Pudacuo is an earthly paradise
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu & Sichuan Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to Visit Tomb of Wangjian
How to Visit Wangjiang Tower Park
How to Visit Qingyang Taoist Temple
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
How to visit Qintai Road, Qintai Street Chengdu
How to visit Shaoling Road Bar Street
How to Visit Jiuyanqiao Bar Street
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Kawagarbo Viewed from Feilaisi (Tips, Photos & Map)

Sunday, September 26th, 2021
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Feilaisi (Feilai Temple)

Feilaisi (or Feilai Temple), literally “Flying Temple”, is  an ideal place to view the east faces of the 13 peaks of the Prince Snow Mountain (太子雪山), also known as Meili Snow Mountain and Meili Jokul (梅里雪山).

Feilaisi (Feilai Temple 飞来寺) is a small Tibetan temple on the National Highway G214 dedicated to the spirits of Kawagarbo at 6740 meters (卡瓦博格峰), the highest peak in Meili Snow Mountain (Meili Jokul).

About 2km outside the monastery there is a growing number of inns and hostels to meet the increasing demand of tourists who come here to view Kawagarbo.

View Kawagarbo Peak from Flying Temple Area

Feilaisi is located above the Mekong valley (澜沧江河谷) at an altitude of 3300 meters, about 10 km to the southwest of Shengping (升平镇), the seat of Deqin County ( 德钦县).

It has a geographical advantage to have a clear view of the east side of  Meili Snow Mountain Range which is bounded by the Salween River ( Nujiang 怒江 in Chinese) on the west and the Mekong (Lancangjiang 澜沧江 in Chinese) on the east. The snow mountain rises about 10 km west of Feilaisi.

ABC of Kawagarbo, or Kawagebo Peak

Kawagarbo, or Kawagebo Peak 卡瓦格博峰 in Chinese, is the highest peak of the 13 peaks of the Prince Snow Mountain (太子雪山), also known as Meili Snow Mountain and Meili Jokul (梅里雪山), a small part of the much more extensive Hengduan Mountains (横断山脉), the major north-south complex of mountains lying along the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau in eastern Tibet.

Kawagebo Peak is often billed as the most beautiful snow mountain peak in the world. It is one of the most sacred peaks in the Tibetan world, the spiritual home of a warrior god of the same name.

Kawagebo Peak is still a virgin mountain though several attempts have been made in the past by the mountaineering teams from China, Japan, the US and the UK. They have all failed mainly due to the extremely complicated geographical conditions and incremental weather.

Kawagebo Peak climbing has also caused heavy protests from the local Tibetan community due to the mountain’s cultural and religious importance. On 3 January 1991, a nighttime avalanche killed all seventeen members of the Sino-Japanese expedition, one of the most disastrous mountaineering accidents in history.

In 2000, the local government passed relative laws banning all future climbing attempts on cultural and religious grounds.

Viewing Kawagebo Peak from Feilaisi

At 6:30 am, 12 October, 2015, Mr.Chen and I are waked up by the alarm clock on our iPhones. Jumping out of our beds, quickly putting on our clothes, we walk out of our rooms fast and up to the rooftop of our hotel with our tripods.

As expected, we could hardly see the peaks on Meili Snow Mountain Range which are covered with heavy dark white clouds. But we still put up our tripods, hoping magic will happen.

Around 7:50 am, suddenly appears a thin slit of clearing on Meilin Snow Mountain which allows us to have a peep of the white snow-capped peaks inside. I catch the momentary sight without delay.

A peep of Meili Snow Mountain ( Meili Jokul )

Then in a few minutes the snow mountain again totally hides behind the heavy clouds. We decide to go down to the lobby restaurant for breakfast and wait for an opportunity to view Kawagebo Peak on the hotel rooftop viewing platform again.

Back to the rooftop platform after breakfast, we continue to wait for the clouds to disappear for a glimpse of the legendary Kawagebo Peak.  Around 8:40 am, the clouds are dispersing and thinning a little and we are able to see the dark forested mountains with the snow-shrouded peaks still hiding behind the clouds.

The snow-shrouded peaks still hiding behind the clouds.

Luckily, I have caught the image of Sinong Glacier ( 斯农冰川) below Cuguilaka Peak (粗归拉卡峰) at 5993 meters just north of Kawagebo Peak (卡瓦博格峰) at 6740 meters.

 Sinong Glacier ( 斯农冰川)
Sinong Glacier ( 斯农冰川)

Then again the whole Prince Snow Mountain ( Meili Snow Mountain ) is totally blanketed by clouds. We sadly go down stairs, back to our rooms, and ready to leave our hotel for our next destination Shangri-la.

Before we leave our rooftop platform, I see lots of people like us still standing on the rooftop platforms of many other hotels in Feilaisi, taking pictures and waiting for the best photogenic time to shoot.

Shooting Meilin Snow Mountain
Shooting Meilin Snow Mountain

While checking out at the hotel front desk in the lobby, we have a small talk with Mr. White Horse, the hotel manager. Feeling our disappointment at the bad luck of being unable to see Kawagebo Peak, he is very empathetic. He consoles us by saying that later this morning Kawagebo Peak will appear before us due to our sincerity driving over 600 km from Daocheng.

He continues to say that he can guide us to a hill nearby to have a panoramic view of Kawagebo Peak and the Prince Snow Mountain as the whole. We are all overjoyed at the proposal, deeply moved by Mr.White Horse’ kindness and integrity. Temporarily restoring our luggage behind the front desk, we happily follow him, bombarding him with  questions about Kawagebo Peak.

He says it is every rare to have the chance to see Kawagebo Peak in the sunrise golden light. The  best time to view Kawagebo Peak is from October through May. July and August are the rainy season with the least possibility to see the Prince Snow Mountain (Meili Snow Mountain or Meili Jokul).

Ascend the hilltop

The forested hill he is taking us is quite steep, with an unpaved path leading to a rugged hilltop.  On the way up, Ms. Chen Ya gets breathless, scrambling after Mr. White Horse. He stops and turns around, taking away her camera to reduce her load and grasping her by her arm, steadily balancing her hike up to the hilltop.

The 20-minute hike brings us to the rugged summit of the hill. He asks us to take a break and wait for the dispersion of clouds. I look around, and find the hill is surrounded by mountains in almost four sides, a very good natural viewing platform to see Meili Snow Mountain on the west, Baima Snow Mountain on the east and south with Feilaisi ( the area for hotels and hostels ) below the hill on the south.

Kawagebo Peak 6,740m appears!

As Mr. White Horse predicts, the sky is getting brighter and bluer, and grey clouds are turning into white clouds. The white clouds circling the snow capped-peaks on Meili Snow Mountain are slowing moving away. At last, Kawagebo Peak appears!

Kawagebo Peak
Kawagebo Peak appears!

On the north of Kawagebo Peak at 6740 meters is the Cuguilaka Peak (粗归拉卡峰) at 5993 meters standing elegantly with white clouds circling below.

Cuguilaka Peak
Cuguilaka Peak (粗归拉卡峰) at 5993 meters

I change my standing position and point my camera to the east of our hill. The peaks of the Baima Snow Mountain are still shrouded by white clouds. At the foot of the white clouds-capped peaks is Feilaisi Village, picturesque and bucolic.

Feilaisi
Feilaisi Village at the foot of the snow and white clouds capped peaks of Baima Snow Mountain.
Feilaisi Village
A  zoom-in picture of Feilaisi Village, Picturesque and Bucolic

Maybe the charm of Meili Snow Mountain lies in the ever-changing clouds which make it difficult to see its true face. The changing clouds also constitute countless views of the snow mountain, the main reason to draw a consistent flow of common tourists all year around.

Before we leave the hilltop,  I take quite a few pictures of the changing Kawagebo Peak and much delighted to share some of them.

The Beautiful Kawagebo Peak
The Beautiful Kawagebo Peak

 

Clouds are closing in on Kawagebo Peak
Clouds are closing in on Kawagebo Peak
Kawagebo Peak shy
Kawagebo Peak shy hiding behind the clouds

Any questions on viewing Kawagebo Peak from Feilaisi, just drop a line.

Add-on

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Mangkang to Deqin
Kawagarbo Viewed from Feilaisi
Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la (Zhongdian)
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Dwells Your Soul
Pudacuo is an earthly paradise
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to Visit Tomb of Wangjian
How to Visit Wangjiang Tower Park
How to Visit Qingyang Taoist Temple
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
How to visit Qintai Road, Qintai Street Chengdu
How to visit Shaoling Road Bar Street
How to Visit Jiuyanqiao Bar Street
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Drive from Mangkang to Deqin (Tips, Photos & Map)

Sunday, September 26th, 2021
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Around 6:00pm, 11 October, we leave the first checkpoint in the downtown of Mangkang, or Markam (芒康),  then branch off National Highway G318 and enter National Highway G214 for the 216 km drive from Mangkang to Feilaisi, Deqin (德钦飞来寺) on the south. The Highway G214 is 3256 km long starting from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province to Jinghong, Yunnan Province.

Drive from Mangkang to Deqin
Drive from Mangkang (Markam) to Deqin

The previous speed limit for the drive from Batang to Mangkang has to some extent delayed our arrival at Feilaisi, Deqin. So we are going to catch up with the time within the maximum speed permitted by law. We are driving fast along the paved road on the valley flanked by the high mountains over 3000 meters altitude.

Mangkang to Feilaisi
We are driving along the paved road on the high mountains

The sun is setting, casting its dwindling glare on the snow-capped mountains on our left side ( east side ), a mixed landscape of snow-shrouded mountains, colored poplar trees, primeval Tibetan houses. We cannot resist stopping at two photogenic areas for photography.

Kangkang Deqin
The picturesque view along the National Highway G214

The National Highway G214 is one of the most beautiful highways in China. Unlike the hyped G318, G214 is quite unknown to the public though it has stunning views with its varied landscapses. G214 connects the headwaters of Yangtze River, Yellow River, Lancang River and Honghe River.

National Highway G214
The golden mountaintop

The Highway G214 cuts through the rugged terrains like Bayan Har Mountains, the Hengduan Mountains and more. It is also bestowed with the massive snow mountains like Hongla Snow Mountain, Meili Snow Mountain, Haba Snow Mountain and more.

The National Highway 214
The Beautiful View along the Highway G214

When we reach the Hongla Mountain Pass (红拉山口) at 4200 meters evelation,  it is completely dark  with ever thickening dense fog. Mr. Chen has to drive gingerly forward with almost zero visibility despite of the hardworking headlights. We haven’t had such challenging experience before driving on a rugged mountaind road shrouded in a heavy fog on a pitch-dark night.

Mr. Chen skilfully controls his Toyota Highlander SUV, nearly blindfold going over Hong La Mountain Pass and arriving at Yanjing Town (盐井) under the administration of Mangkang, Tibet , the last outpost which connects Deqin or Deqen (德钦), Yunnan on the south .

We get to Feilaisi, Deqin or Deqen (德钦飞来寺) around midnight and check in a hotel known as 德钦云之南车盟酒店(Tel: 0887 – 8566588 ) which we have booked online on route. The moment we enter the hotel, we are warmly welcomed and each of us receives a Hada ( a long piece of white silk), which embodies purity and loyalty,  a traditional practice in Tibet to show respect and hospitality.

Feilaisi ( Fyling Temple ), 10 km north of the downtown of Deqin (德钦), has developed from the small Flying Temple. Now in this area there is a growing number of hostels and guest houses. Many travelers choose to stay here in order to see Kawa Garbo Peak (卡瓦格博峰) and Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山).

The hotel manager, a Tibetan, named 白马”Bai Ma”, literally “White Horse”, is very kind and hospitable, going far out of his way to give us plenty of information on Kawa Garbo Peak (卡瓦格博峰) and Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山). “There is a viewing platform on the top of the 4th floor where you are able to have a panoramic view of Kawa Garbo Peak”, he added.

We go up to our hotel rooms on the third floor with heavy hearts because we all know tomorrow will be overcast with little possibility to see Kawa Garbo Peak, less than in golden sunrise light.

Getting our tripods ready, Mr. Chen and I still set alarm clock on iphone around 6:30 am since sunrise time for tomorrow is around 7:00am. We hope good luck will follow us tomorrow.

Any questions about the drive from Mangkang to Feilaisi (Deqin), just drop a line.

Add-on

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Mangkang to Deqin
Kawagarbo Viewed from Feilaisi
Drive from Deqin to Shangri-la (Zhongdian)
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Dwells Your Soul
Pudacuo is an earthly paradise
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to Visit Tomb of Wangjian
How to Visit Wangjiang Tower Park
How to Visit Qingyang Taoist Temple
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
How to visit Qintai Road, Qintai Street Chengdu
How to visit Shaoling Road Bar Street
How to Visit Jiuyanqiao Bar Street
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland