Spectacular road journey to Reting Monastery
After watching the beautiful sunrise at Lake Nam-tso we set off for the long journey to Reting Monastery and Tidrum. We crossed back over the Kong La Pass through the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains. At Nyingdrong we turned off the tarmac road to drive south-east on a gravel road towards the more remote Kyi-chu Valley. A cloud of dust trailed behind our vehicle as we drove along the valley floor with dry rugged mountains towering on either side. We eventually turned off the gravel road onto a newly surfaced road skirting the dramatic reservoir you can see in the above photograph. This welcome stretch of tarmac took us 25 kilometres to Reting Monastery.
Reting Monastery set in a beautiful valley of juniper trees
Lynne and I loved the location of the Reting Monastery set in a beautiful valley of juniper trees. It was so peaceful. The Dalai Lama has stated that should he ever return to Tibet it is at Reting, not Lhasa, that he would like to reside. After visiting the monastery we fully agree with him. The tranquility of the ancient juniper trees created a spiritual presence in this quiet valley.
Family of four generations on pilgrimage to Reting Monastery
The monastery dates back to 1056. It was devastated by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution but is now once again a place of pilgrimage. It had an important connection with the Dalai Lamas. Two regents, the de facto rulers of Tibet for the interregnum between the death of the Dalai Lama and his next reincarnation, were chosen from the Reting abbots. The fifth Reting Ringpoche was regent from 1933 to 1947. He played a key role in the search for the current Dalai Lama and served a his senior tutor. We were fortunate to see the monks at prayer chanting alongside tibetan horns, cymbals, a conch and a drum. We really felt the presence of a living and vibrant Tibetan monastery.
A stunning Sand Mandala in Reting Monastery
From Reting we continued our drive through Tibet's heartland known as 'U'. U is the traditional power centre of Tibet, and home to its oldest buildings and most historic monasteries. Thousand year old temples or hilltop forts seem to lie around every bend in the road in this remote area north-east of Lhasa. Back in the Kyi-chu Valley we drove past farming communities all hard at work with their annual ploughing. The dzo, a hybrid cross between the yak and domestic cattle, is the preferred beast of burden for ploughing the rough stony fields. The women follow behind scattering the seeds for the new crop of barley. It was going dark as we finally entered the narrow gorge where our hot springs guesthouse was located near Tidrum.
Tibetan farmer with two sturdy 'dzo' pulling the plough
. . . . excerpt from my Tibetan travel journal: 'We slept well at the Shambhala Source Guesthouse at 4300 metres. Last night we had a hot spring bath in the medicinal mineral waters flowing into a pool next to the guesthouse. There are separate pools for men and women. Of course no swimsuits in the pool! The water was really hot and after a few minutes I had to get out of the pool. We are now sat on the balcony overlooking the gorge with its glacial waters bubbling and rushing downstream. The sky is deep blue and the sun is drying our towels. The crisp air is fresh but it is warm in the sun. We can see local Tibetans going down to the hot spring bath house. There are mountains rising high above the gorge some with fresh snow on their summits. There are lots of 'wind horse' prayer flags strewn across the river and the gorge.'
Shambhala Source Guesthouse 4300 metres Tidrum
In the late morning we drove up the steep mountain valley to the Tidrum Nunnery. It also has medicinal hot springs. The nunnery is undergoing considerable reconstruction but we were able to see its treasures housed in a temporary assembly room. One of my favourite objects was a small yak butter lamp made of alabaster. See the photo below . . . .
Alabaster yak butter lamp Tidrum Nunnery
*** You can see a picture of these water-powered prayer wheels in the gallery entitled 'Reting and Tidrum Tibet 2016' in 'Photographs'.
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