Tibet holds a unique place in the imagination, conjuring an unearthly realm beyond our reach—literally and figuratively, given its position on the so-called “Roof of the World.” Travel to Tibet and find that frozen peaks and windy flatlands blanket this high-desert plateau. In an isolated land cut off from the world for all but the last century, beauty and strangeness appear in equal measure. What causes our enduring fascination with Tibet? Surely its inaccessibility, mysterious gompas, lunar landscape, and tenacious citizens transfix us. Beneath an often crystal-blue sky, the Tibetan people exist in a medieval world. Since the occupation by the Chinese, their endurance has been tested both physically and spiritually. Yet despite the hardships of their daily lives, Tibetans remain tolerant and good-humored. Your encounters with these hardy people will leave you with a profound respect for a culture that binds men and women to the cosmos with such generosity of spirit.
Ringed by mountains, Lhasa sits in as dramatic a location as any capital city on Earth, and its temples are among the most impressive in Asia. Jokhang Temple Monastery, the country’s most important spiritual center, draws a steady stream of visitors to its halls filled with exquisite Buddhist art. The Potala Palace, arguably Lhasa’s most famous landmark, is an awe-inspiring 17th-century structure that served as the winter palace for generations of Dalai Lamas, while Samye, the first monastery in Tibet, was built in a remarkable mandala design.
It is the combination of spectacular mountain scenery and a unique spiritual history that compels so many travelers to visit this remote and enigmatic place. Trek Tibet through the valleys and grasslands to the holy lakes and caves, and the spectacular views of the snow-capped Himalayas are for many the highlight of any journey to Tibet, and even in the countryside one is never far from a hilltop palace, ancient fortress, or monastery.