Hike Yumbulagang Monastery

Rate this Adventure 1 miles 400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by John Maurizi

A beautiful monastery perched on a hill overlooking a lush valley floor. Gain merit and meet locals in a wonderful location.

When you first see Yumbulagang from a distance, it is quite an impressive sight. Perched atop a craggy hill makes the main tower here seem much larger than it is. Yumbulagang is said to be the first Monastery in Tibet, built by the first Tibetan King. 

There is only a few monks present to tend to the butter lamps and pilgrims. It serves more as an attraction now. There are still pilgrims that visit, but they are out numbered by the locals trying to sell you prayer flags.  Very few tourist venture here, especially to the top.  It is a steep walk but you can rent a horse or a camel (yes, a camel) to take you up to the monastery.

As mentioned, the hike up is steep as you would imagine for the photos. It starts on a dirt road, which you take all the way up. There is also a trail you can take that starts off the road about 1/3 of the way up.

Once on top you have amazing views of the valley with its lush green floor and occasional patch work of yellow canola flowers. There is a kora around the tower with prayer wheels that is nice to complete before entering the Tower temple.

A highlight is definitely seeing the monastery from a distance and once on top, seeing how beautiful the valley floor looks. It is a pleasant surprise after seeing so much brown hills and mountains!

But the highlight for me was the ridge behind Yumbulagang.  It is completely covered in prayer flags, stretched between small pinnacles to allow the wind to take the prayers from the flags and send out to the Universe.  During my visit I was hounded by locals trying to sell prayer flags to hang on the mountain. I resisted at first and made my way up to the top which is very steep on unstable rock. Only one of the locals continued to follow me through the rough terrain. She was very elderly and I was surprised how easily she ascended. I felt bad as I kept saying no to her sales pitch. Keep in mind, she spoke no English and my Tibetan consists of greetings and counting to 10!  Finally, on my way down, I gave in. She only wanted 10rmb, an equivalent of $1.50usd and it was a pretty good flag. She helped me tie the flag to others, so I guess she gained in merit as well.

It's nice to know I have these prayers flags blowing in the wind, even after I return home and half way around the world.

Yumbulagang is located a few miles south of Zetang (Chinese) or Tsedang (Tibetan) along Naidong Rd.  Same town but spelled differently, depending on what map you are looking at.

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