When I reached Barkhor square in Lhasa, it was still pitch dark. The frenzy of daytime was absent, but on the square itself, there were people standing around a few buses. Most of them pilgrims on their way to a remote monastery, some of them travelers like me, curious to have a look at a monastery outside the Chinized surroundings of Lhasa. Our bus filled up quickly, and in the end also the aisle was full of people who were given a stool to sit on. Even before the driver arrived, pilgrims in the bus started humming and singing, giving the bus a special atmosphere.
The ride through the valley of the Lhasa River was easy, until we turned right. When I tried to spot the monastery higher above me, I only saw a road climbing on the steep flanks of mountain. Indeed, that was our road, and taking countless switchbacks, offering stunning views over the valley below, we reached the final road to the monastery at some 4,500m altitude. The first morning rays were just reaching the roofs of the monastery as we arrived, and I could not wait to get out. After all the monasteries I had seen in the previous days, I felt a need to explore nature; so after exploring the quiet area of the monastery, I set out on the route that ultimately leads to Samye monastery.
Added advantage of walking up the mountain was that the view of Ganden monastery and surroundings became more beautiful almost with every step I took, so I looked back very often! The walk was just what I needed, when I crossed the saddle, marked by cairns or lapse in Tibetan, the view on the other side was completely different: small villages at the bottom of the valley, and mountains towering above the valley on the opposite side. Other than small groups of yaks I did not see anyone. Unfortunately, I had to turn back to catch the bus - the valley in which I knew the path towards Samye monastery looked very attractive indeed. The walk back was easy, instead of walking directly to Ganden I added the high kora to my hike - unfortunately I did not see any pilgrim on the way and had to struggle my way through prayer flags alone.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Ganden Monastery (China). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Ganden Monastery. Read more about this site.