We now make our way to Gyantse, a small city that sits in the Nyang River valley at approximately 3,977 meters (13,050 ft) above sea level.

Along the way, we stopped at Gyantse Dam, a place that is difficult to describe in words, with its surrealistic mesmerising capacity to capture the eyes and soothe the mind.     As if it were frozen in time, it’s deeply turquoise colored waters lay completely still reflecting the landscape like a natural mirror.

Our guide, Tsewang, stood at the peak of the cliff staring outwards into the horizon.  She had been there hundreds of times before, but her eyes looked upon the scenery with fresh perspective.  In a sudden burst, she jumped joyously throwing hundreds of prayer flags into the wind.  They flew high dancing frivolously in the air like a rainbow of colors with Tibetan Sanskrit inscribed onto its surfaces.

Captivated by the environment that surrounded me, I sat looking upon the water like I did at Namtso, closing my eyes and absorbing it into my sensory experience meditatively.  Without a clear mind, the world is seen through a hazy window. With our thousand thoughts creating fingerprint smudges where the crispness of innocent beauty lay.  I could live here forever.

We finally reached Gyantse, where we entered the 9th century Palcho Monastery (or Shekar Gyantse).  Palcho is known specifically for its “Kumbum” a nine story stupa (mound-like structure) that contains over 100,000 holy images. The Kumbum is designed to be a three dimensional  mandala which is meant to symbolize the Buddhist cosmos.  A multitude of statues were damaged during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, leaving only clay images in their place.

Gyantse Palcho Monastery (Circa 1938)


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