Tibet – The forbidden country

Our guide Bushung warned us just before we crossed the border to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR, in Chinese Xizang). “There are many checkpoints in Tibet. They are checking many things very carefully. We should be prepared to have long waiting times.” That was already a little pre-taste of that what should be come next. We traveled 19 days through Tibet. I think this blog post would be endless if I would tell all the nice experiences we had. I want furthermore tell something about the history, the landscape, the flora and fauna, the religion and the people itself who are characterizing the country and who are giving them the very special atmosphere.

The history of Tibet – A short wrap-up

Some parts of Tibet have been settled already more than 20.000 years ago. But written notes only exist since the 7th century. During this time several kingdoms were located in Tibet. Most of the inhabitants were followers of the Bon-Religion. It is a religion which is kind of similar to the Buddhism but it was developing completely independent. Parts of the religion were holy nature phenomena and magic rituals. With the time the Buddhism came from India to Tibet and was set through different kings as being the state religion. At this time there were bloody conflicts between Buddhists and Bons. Today the Tibetan Buddhism is influenced by the Bon and also the Bon-Religion came closer to the Buddhism.

There exists the institution of the Dalai Lama (Ocean of wisdom) since the 16th century. He is the spiritually leader of the Tibetan Buddhists. When he dies, the monks are looking in the whole country for the reincarnation. This will be found in a person of a young boy who will then take the highest authority in the country.


Der Potalla in Lhasa. Sitz des Dalai Lamas (Vor dessen Flucht)
Der Potalla in Lhasa. Seat of the Dalai Lamas (Before he escaped)

Already at the beginning of the 20th century there where military clashes between China and Tibet which where ending 1950 with the invasion of Chinese troops into Tibet. Tibet was voluntarily isolating themselves during the wars and was not part of the League of Nations. That’s why the rest of the world was quiet when China occupied the Tibetan territory and when it became with the name Xizang a province of China. The 14th Dalai Lama was in this time also the political leader and escaped to the exile. He nowadays lives together with 150.000 Tibetan refugees in the Indian city Dharamsala. During the Chinese Culture Revolution (1966-76) more than 6.000 monasteries were destroyed in Tibet. Hundred thousands were killed and famines were all over the country. Only a few monasteries weren’t destroyed.

Eine Wächter-Statue im Guge-Kloster. Die Spuren der Kulterrevolution sind hier noch zu sehen.
A guardian statue in Guge-Kloster. You can see the traces of the Culture Revolution.

The conflict between China and Tibet is still today very active. Nowadays more and more Tibetans are fighting more for the free living of their religion and culture rather than for an independent state. But from both Tibet is still miles away like my car towards my hometown Dresden.

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One Comment

  1. Patrick
    7. November 2016

    Hi Matthias,

    als stetiger stiller Leser bin ich begeistert von deinen Reports, Bilder und vor allem das Du schon so weit gekommen bist! Mit dem eigenen Auto nach und durch Tibet – großes Kino! Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, das Du in Laos und Thailand gut entspannen kannst 😉

    Viele Grüße aus Berlin und alles Gute für deinen weiteren Trip
    Patrick (Aperto)

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