Labrang Monastery was founded in 1709 by a local monk from the neighboring town of Ganjia. He later became the first Living Buddha.
Xiahe is a small, but rapidly developing town in the SW of Gansu Province near the border with Qinghai. It is nestled in a beautiful mountain valley and is the location of famous Labrang Monastery. Labrang Monastery is second in size to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, so Xiahe is visited not only by increasing numbers of tourists but also by innumerable Tibetan pilgrims, many of whom have travelled vast distances to do so.
My first visit here was during the Golden week in May (as indicated by the date on this blog). Although not a religious person or a student of Tibetan Buddhism, I spent many a peaceful hour wandering within and around the monastery complex, particularly early in the morning before the hordes of tourists descended. I was fascinated (and humbled) by the dedication and devotion of the brightly coloured pilgrims. Prayer beads in hand, chanting their sutras, they prostrated themselves repeatedly or walked briskly doing their circuits of the sacred kora or individual prayer halls and stupas. Among them were dozens of fuscia-robed monks of all ages scurrying around going about their daily business. All this made for an "other-worldly" atmosphere.
I am currently back
Prayer wheels turning
Hundreds of prayer wheels line 3 sides of the 3km sacred kora around the monastery complex.
in Xiahe with my work colleague Stef, on our way west to Qinghai to experience the Jyekundo Horse Festival, one of the biggest of the Tibetan Horse Festivals. It is therefore timely to share with you my first experiences of this, the biggest monastery town outside of Lhasa. It is the first in a series of five blogs, each with their own theme rather than a chronological account of my experiences here in Xiahe.
I have kept the main body of text short, prefering to add detail to each photograph with it's own particular story, so make sure you view all the photographs for the "full" experience!
So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Xiahe!
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