The world's largest and highest plateau, Tibet has an average altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level and is referred as the "roof of the world." Earth's highest snowcapped mountains, Mt. Everest, The Himalayas, Karakoram, and Kunlun, flank Tibet from corner to corner, making this Chinese autonomous region also be deemed as "the land of snows." Such elevation and topography made Tibetans mold their own brand of culture, mainly characterized by mystical folklore, nomad lifestyle, yak herding, and art zeroed on Buddhist faith.
Magic and mystery
Because of its relative remoteness, for centuries, Tibet has conveyed a mysterious aura to the rest of the world. Explorers and Silk Road traders dreamed of it as a land of riches and treasures. Pilgrims envisioned it as a Buddhist kingdom ruling over the immortals of an earthly paradise, the mythical Shangri-La. Today, Tibet has been made more reachable through a train ride on the world's highest railway, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
Daily flights connect Tibet to Shanghai, Beijing, and Kathmandu via Lhasa, Tibet's capital and one of the world's highest cities. Lhasa literally means "Holy Land" for having many monasteries that lend it a divine ambiance.
Among Lhasa's lamaseries is the World Heritage-included Potala Palace, the 1,300-year-old residence of Dalai Lamas. The structure has 1000 rooms and is perched in an altitude as high as Japan's Mount Fuji. Lhasa's Sera Monastery was once the world's second-biggest monastery, following Drepung Monastery at the foot of Mount Gephel.
Extreme cultures and adventures
If Lhasa is the seat of the Dalai Lama, Yarlung Valley is regarded as the cradle of Tibetan civilization for it is where 7th century Tibetan kings unified Tibet and performed sky burials in an area called Chongye. The valley's Yumbulagang palace is Tibet's oldest building.
Surrounding the valley is Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, one of the planet's deepest and biggest canyons. Near it is the "Everest of Rivers" or the world's highest river, Yarlung Tsangpo River, whose extreme conditions, dragon-like flow, and hidden waterfalls attract the world's best whitewater kayakers.
Tibet Traveler Advice
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