The gigantic Tibetan kumbun

A Buddhist monk handles the burning fire in the courtyard in front of the Kumbun Gyantse Pagoda, Tibet
The gigantic Tibetan kumbun

On the classic route of the most sacred monasteries of Tibet is Gyantse. Travelers stop there Lhasa road or from Lake Yamdrok, the prodigious scorpion-shaped water mirror that serves as an oracle for lamas to locate where the reincarnation of a Dalai Lama just passed away. Everyone comes to town to visit a locket.

What is Tibetan is known as chörten. It is not more than that, a locket where the mortal remains of some lama outstanding. They take the shape of a dome it sits on a square plinth that can lift just a couple of meters off the ground or be slightly larger. In the case of Gyantse kumkum, we are talking about the older chörten standing of the Buddhist universe. It is a three-dimensional mandala found inside the Pelkor monastery
Chöde. It reaches 35 meters high, with four levels and crowned by a gold dome.

As usual in this type of construction, the Buddha’s eyes have been painted on each of the four cardinal points of the upper platform, giving the faithful – and the non-faithful – a sense of serenity and protection. Ataraxia is the ultimate goal of Buddha images.

Both the monastery and the kumbum they rose from the year 1427, and this imposing circular tower that contains the images of one hundred thousand painted buddhas In its side chapels it has seen the passing of the centuries undaunted, until, during the cultural revolution, the red guards barbarically and cruelly damaged the work of art. He chörten It was restored, and now it continues as a lighthouse in the middle of the Tibetan plateau, practically a desert high at almost four thousand meters above sea level.

Buddha eyes painted on the walls of the Gyantse kumbun
Buddha’s eyes painted on the walls of the Gyantse kumbum (Alberrosidus via Wikimedia Commons)

As with these Buddhist monuments, arrivals from all corners of Tibet surround by clockwise, becoming pilgrims themselves in a walking prayer. The effect is hypnotic, For you can only hear the murmur of the devotees with some repetitive mantra and the fruity of the feet as they crawl across the rough Tibetan soil.

There is little more reason to stop at Gyantse apart from the admiration of the monastery and its golden tower. But this is a strategic point in the classic shortlist that also includes the mythical Lhasa and the no less legendary Shigatse, where the Tashilungpo, the palace-monastery of yesteryear Tibet’s second most important authority, the Panchen Lama. Few are those who venture to travel further west, where important population centers disappear and nomadic herders reign in large yak wool shops.

Rongbuk monastery on Everest
Rongbuk monastery on Everest (Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn) – Flickr)

But those who are not afraid of roads that have ample room for improvement can still visit two unforgettable landmarks of a trip through Tibet: the Rongbuk monastery, the one located on the north face of Everest and the highest altitude in the world; and the holy mountain Kailas, the center of the universe for five Asian religions: Buddhists, Hinduists, Jains, Sikhs, and Bon.

Written by Editorial Staff

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