A Tibet Outside Tibet (Part 1) 西藏外的西藏(第一部)


A young monk at Xiahe's Labrang Monastery.

The Summer River Town 夏河鎮

The prefecture and town of Xiahe (meaning “summer river” in Chinese) of southern Gansu province in central-western China is an eclectic, rich mix of Tibetan, Hui and Han Chinese ethnicities, ways of life and religious traditions.

Xiahe's location in Google Earth.

 

Xiahe's Main Street.

Utility construction in Xiahe, on the Main Street.

Solitary quietude in Xiahe.

The dusty Main Street.

The town of Xiahe is a true “one street town” with one main street, several hostels and hotels, Tibetan, Chinese and Islamic restaurants an the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery (and the town’s main tourist attraction) outside of Tibet, Labrang Monastery.

Labrang Monastery my hostel in Xiahe.

A view of Labrang Monastery from the hills above, the Grand Sutra Hall is towards the bottom right with the gold roof.

The town can be visualized as half occupied by Labrang Monastery and the the other half the lay zone.

Labrang Monastery 拉卜楞寺

Labrang Monastery, built in the 1700s, is the largest and one of the most prestigious Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region.  Now, it’s a major tourist draw for Xiahe.

Sign pointing to Labrang Monastery.

In front of the Grand Sutra Hall of Labrang Monastery.

Prayer wheels at the outer walls of Labrang Monastery.

Devotees of Tibetan Buddhism turn the prayer wheels as an act of devotion and prayer.

Tibetan Buddhist mural art at Labrang Monastery, depicting the cyclical nature of existence and suffering.

Another detail of the mural art at Labrang Monastery, probably depicting the demon Mara who had tempted Siddhārtha Gautama himself.

At the courtyard of the Labrang Monastery Grand Sutra Hall.

A view in Labrang Monastery.

I did some exploring in the complex, narrow passageways of the Labrang Monastery complex.

Exploring Labrang Monastery.

Area Geography

Situated in a grassland valley, Xiahe almost seemed like towns in Taiwan’s mountainous terrain.

Thin layer of rich topsoil supporting the grassland ecosystem.

The prefecture and town of Xiahe (meaning “summer river” in Chinese) of southern Gansu province in central-western China is an eclectic, rich mix of Tibetan, Hui and Han Chinese ethnicities, ways of life and religious traditions.

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