Monasteries in Tibet

Drepung Monastery : Built in 1416, Drepung Monastery is the first of the three principle monasteries of the Gelugpa School of Buddhism. Gelugpa, or Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism is the branch followed by most Tibetans, and the most influential figure in this faith is the Dalai Lama. Drepung Monastery used to be the living quarters of  Dalai Lamas before the reconstruction of the Potala Palace by the Fifth Dalai Lama between 1645 and 1694.The monastery lies five kilometers west of Lhasa city at the foot of  Mount Gambo Utse.

Sera Monastery: Sera was the last of the three principal Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Buddhist monasteries to be built in Lhasa. Sera Monastery is located about five kilometers north of the Jokhang in Lhasa. It was completed in 1419, under the supervision of Shaka Yeshe. Sera comprises a great sutra chanting hall, a college and 32 sections.

Ganden Monastery: Ganden Monastery was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the originator of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect. It is one of the three principle Gelugpa monasteries in the Lhasa district. Ganden Monastery is perched just short of the top of Mount Wanrigu or Wangbur, 30 kilometers east of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4500m. Ganden consists of many temples and other buildings.

Rongbuk Monastery : Rongbuk monastery lies at a distance of 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Everest (North)Base Camp. The monastery was built in 1899, as a Nyingmapa monastery .Sakyamuni and Padmasambhava are enshrined in the small temple. 300 meters (980 feet) south of the monastery is the famous Rongbuk Glacier.

Sakya Monastery : Sakya, meaning “Grey Soil” in Tibetan since the soil surrounding it is gray. The walls of the monastery are  painted in red, white and grey colors to represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively. Sakya Monastery belongs to the first Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and occupies an area of  14,700 square km.  The Sakya Sect ruled Tibet for more than 70 years. Thus the monastery has a colossal collection of highly valuable art pieces, including 3,000 pieces of sutras that have thousands of years history.

Tashilhunpo Monastery: Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the six big monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat) Sect in Tibet. Also called the “Heap of Glory”, the monastery is located beneath Drolmari (Tara’s Mountain) in Shigatse. The monastery attracts thousands of Buddhists and tourists every year.

Samye Monastery, founded in 779 AD, is in a green valley among barren mountains surrounded by a village. Built between 763 and 75 AD and modeled on the University of Otantapuri in India, it was planned as a representation of the universe. Located at the foot of Mt. Hepo Ri, on the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River of Zharang County, Samye Monastery is about 38 kilometers from Tsedang.

Mindroling Monastery, founded at the end of the 10th century and renovated in 1677, is one of the three major monasteries of the Nyingmapa or Red Hat Sect in Tibet. This monastery laid special stress on the knowledge learning of the Buddhist scriptures, astronomy, Tibetan lunar calendar, calligraphy, rhetoric, Tibetan medicine etc. A distinctive feature of Mindroling monastery is the fact that the monks who reside there can have wives and children. The monastery lies in Zanang County, 43 kilometers east of Lhasa, on the south side of Tsangpo river.

The Tsurpu monastery situated at an altitude of 4300m has a history of 800years. Located high in the tributary of the Tolung Valley, the huge temples and chanting halls of Tsurphu monastery has been rebuilt from the rubble of the Cultural Revolution.Besides its typical Tibetan style, it is three times as large as Potala Palace.

American Lhakpari (7045m) Expedition, Spring 2006

27th May 2006 marked yet another victory in favor of Americans, after Mr. Michael Jenkins attained glory by summiting 7045 m Mt. Lhakpa Ri. Michael along with his wife, Ms. Elizabeth Hebertson, headed for 24-day Tibet trek to climb Mt. Lhakpa Ri on 9th May 2006. The couple has several triumphs under their belt to boast their supremacy in extreme Himalayan Adventure. One such triumph is the achievement they attained last year after reaching Advance BC at 6300m.

The travel itinerary was exclusively designed to tailor the couple’s desire. After sightseeing Lhasa and Shigatse, they retreated towards mountainous terrains. As they continued climbing towards the summit of the Himalaya, their rock-strewn trails zigzagged through the glaciers making their trails more difficult and adventurous. Unfortunately, Elizabeth had to abort further climb after reaching ABC at 6300 m due to altitude sickness. Michael continued his mission and finally succeeded to reach the summit.

One of the Expedition team from Explore Himalaya encountered the American couple on this trip and had brief exchange of their traveling experiences. The couple during this interaction confessed that just like in their first trek with Explore Himalaya, they are happy and satisfied with this second trek. They further said that as discussed earlier Explore Himalaya has indeed offered them the best arrangement and logistic support. Michael also revealed that next year he would attempt to scale Mt Shishapangma, 8027m peak in Tibet, the 14th highest peak in the world.

We wish this lovely couple all the best for their yet another Himalayan Adventure!

“Following the Foot Steps of Mallory”, One of the most Adventurous Treks completed successfully

Following the Foot steps of George Mallory who explored route up to the North Col of Everest in 1921, a group of Trekkers from United Kingdom successfully completed their mission across the Kharta Glacier and finally, emerged at the East Rongbuk Glacier from Khangsung face of Everest crossing over two high passes, next to Kharbo La (6128m) and Lagba La (6883m).

The team led by Michael Bromfield, Chairman of the UK based Company, “The Great Walks” had left for Lhasa on 25th of April, 2006 with a team of 7 British man and one Thai female climber, Ampai Somsook. Members of the British team were: Michael Bromfield, Phil Coates, Richard John, Raymond Tempest, Andrew Christie, Richard Thompson and Brook Matthew. After visting Lhasa and Xigatse, they reached Kharta Village on 29th of April where they were met by a team of nine Sherpas led by senior climbing guide of Explore Himalaya, Phurba Pasang Sherpa.

Packing their loads on yaks, the team left on the next day for their Trek to Khangsung BC of Everest, arrived at Pethang Ringmo via Lundrungbing, Shaola and Khangsung valley on 4th of May. Acclimatizing at Pethang Ringmo on 5th, the group headed above Three and a half hours for the Russian Camp on 6th May which was a turn off between Karbo La and the Khangsung Base Camp.

From the Turn off, Michael Bromfield, Richard John, Richard Thompson and Ampai left for Khangsung Base camp with Four Sherpas whereas, the main group headed towards Karbo La under leadership of Phil Coates which included Raymond Tempest, Andrew Christie and Brook Matthew to set up the camp two hours further, below Karbo La. Next day on 8th of May, exploration towards the passes took place to find out a proper and safe route. Out of  three passes available to go towards Kharta Glacier, Karbo La(6128m) on the left end seemed over snowed and with numerous crevices afterwards whereas, the pass after that in the middle(6242m) was also not physible. Ultimately, the pass (6289m) at the right end was decided and therefore, left equipments below the pass and set as a high camp.

On 9th of May, the team left for the real adventure and reached up to the pass ultimately returning down to the Camp for rest. Finally, crossed the pass on 10th of May, went on the other side over Kharta Glacier and camped at the height of 5860m.

It was a long day on 11th, start at 8.30 am and finished finally at 6.30 PM, all day walk along the Kharta Glacier to reach the camp below Lagba La at the height of 6380m. Next day, It was another long trip to climb up to the Lagba La (6883m) and descend down to East Rongbuk Glacier finally, reaching the camp at ABC (6400m)late evening. On their descent from the Pass, Lagbala, Jamie Mcguinness who had been over the pass from ABC to provide assistance to the group missed them just by 200m since the group took a straight way down the cliff through the ropes fixed by advance team of Sherpas led by Pasang. However, Jamie thinks that the actual route was slightly southward, much easier which could have been better had the group opted for it. Any way, although taking the unusual route, they safely landed at the ABC.

Another long day’s walk all the way from ABC to the Base camp (5200m) on 13th May where the group met with Trekking team of Michael Bromfield that came from Kharta and enjoyed hot meal prepared by our Sherpa crew. Since the group had back logged itinerary, it was another long day drive to Zangmu and connected to Kathmandu on 14th of May.

Explore Himalaya is happy to have all members of the team including Sherpas safely back after completing this historic mission and look forward to organize more trips in future on the similar itinerary. We congratulate the leader, Phil Coates along with other members: Raymond Tempest, Andrew Christie and Brook Matthew and also our Nepali members: Phurba Pasang Sherpa, Dendi Sherpa, Bag Bir Tamang, Ngawang Sherpa and Zangbu Sherpa. And of course, the Leader Michael Bromfield along with Andy Broom from “The Great Walks” also to be thanked and congratulated for their ambitious planning which let us have this opportunity to handle a Great Adventure Holiday in Tibet Himalaya.

Traveling around Tibet on a motorbike.


Tibet has been the traveler’s major choice to explore. The world’s highest plateau Tibet is considered the holy land of monks indulged deeply into the meditation. The Highway joining this roof of the world to the Himalayan nation Nepal is Friendship Highway. The highway almost covers the distance of 1000km. Every year Explore Himalaya brings the adrenaline hungry road adventurers from around the world to this highway for its special product Motorbike tour to Tibet. The long ride on Enfield motorbikes along the spectacular landscapes on the highway could possibly be the most exciting two-wheeler journey that happens once in a life.

Eight Aussies; Peter, Robin, Ricki, Johann, Susan, Bradley Stephen (Travel Journalist) and Tony Evans (Operation Director, Travel Directors) experienced this thrilling highland journey with Explore Himalaya last spring. The trip was a great retreat. Beginning with sightseeing in Lasha on October 9 the journey covered the mesmerizing natural awe-inspiring sites throughout the highway.

The roadies began to celebrate their motorbike journey at Lasha. They visited Dakripya, Johkang Temple, Ganden Monastery, Sera Monastery and the Majestic Potala Palace at Lasha before their bikes hit the road on the Friendship Highway October 13.

The 1000 km long Friendship Highway, from Lhasa to Kathmandu, goes through 4 passes over 5000m+ starting along the Lasha River. Traveling downhill the Gyatso La Pass at 5220m the scenic view of Yamdrok Tso Lake aka turquoise lake at the 4447m further inspired the every member of the Motorbike Tour.The ride continued to the city of Gyantse along the Yarlung Tsong River and Karo La pass at 5045m. Gyantse is the city of famous Gyantse Dzong, Kumbum, Palkhor and Pecho monasteries. Down the isolated passes the Aussies came to Shigaste; the Chinese Town with Tibetan flavor. Shigaste lies at 3900m below New Tingri. Tashilhunpo monastery at Shigaste has been the resident of all the Panchen Lama. At Shigaste the road branches to two directions. West headed to the City of Ali and south continued with our travelers to pass Shegar, New Shegar and the famous Rongphu Monastery and the Everest Base Camp. Traveling to Everest Base Camp on the 500cc Enfield was no doubt a rare opportunity. Then, Lhatse a small city came in between Shegar and Shigaste. Before hitting towards the Nepalese border from Lhatse the motorbikes passd Tingri valley via Lalung La pass at 5050m. Tingri is also the upper valley of Bum- Chu or Arun River. The valley is full of young rivers. From here the road continued towards the Nepal-China border traveling down through Nyalam Tong la pass at 5143m to Nyalam and Zhangmu.  Nyalam 3700m is the last major Tibetan city before the riders’ reached the border city of Zhangmu.From the custom city of Zhangmu the riders made the way towards Nepal leaving the Sino- Nepal highway (Friendship Highway). They crossed the Friendship Bridge over BhoteKoshi and hit on the Araniko highway to Kathmandu via small hilltop tourist town Dhulikhel.

As the visitors came closer to Kathmandu on October 18, Explore Himalaya team was even more eager to receive them cordially for the lawn party at Malla Hotel. The reception was deservingly grand. Our visitors enjoyed their relaxation time after the long journey with cultural presentations by the local artists.

After, the tiring but adventurous long journey on the Friendship and Araniko Highways, the Aussies spent two more days in Kathmandu to visit around the cultural, historical and religious heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley. The Aussie lineup departed Nepal on October 21, 2012.


Lhasa-Kathmandu Biking Tour

Explore Himalaya recently organized the Lhasa-Kathmandu biking tour for the 4 bike riders  Mr. Jose Rosario, Mr. Christopher Chilimintris,  Ms. Annamaria Chilimintris and Mr. Sandro Taboada, from America.

Group in Tibet

The riders had arrived Kathmandu where they did one day sightseeing tour and 1 day biking tour around Kathmandu before flying to Lhasa to start the Lhasa- Kathmandu biking tour.

Karo La in Tibet

After returning home, one of the riders, Ms. Annamaria Chilimintris sent us her wonderful write up of their experience of biking in Tibet and Nepal with Explore Himalaya and photos of the trip.
“My uncle was turning 50 and wanted to celebrate doing something spectacular he has never done before but always wanted to. He is an avid cyclist in NYC and thought it would be a great idea to bike from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal. One of the most memorable moments was bike riding out of Kathmandu, around it, and back into the main city. The grand landscapes were breathtaking, and the rice fields were awe inspiring. Also, the ride itself was challenging. The terrain changes frequently when you are outside the city. And when you are inside the city, the traffic presents other obstacles. All challenges were met with open arms and hearts. They make you laugh!! Somehow the chaos of Kathmandu keeps its order. On our last night, we were taken to a dinner and show. There was live music and cultural dances. What a sight to behold!! Nepal is a beautiful country and we look forward to hopefully returning one day.”

On the way to Kathmandu

Naylam-Zhangmu downhill

View on the way to Kathmandu


Lhasa-Kathmandu Biking Tour

Photos: Ms. Annamaria Chilimintris


Kathmandu-Lhasa-Kathmandu Overland Trip

Explore Himalaya recently organized the ‘Kathmandu-Lhasa-Kathmandu overland trip’ for the group of 5 persons from Russia. The trip was accompanied by our Executive officer Mr. Samundra Subedi.

group at Potala Palace Group at Potala Palace

The group drove to Nylam from Kathmandu to commence their trip to Lhasa. Enroute to Lhasa, the group visited different interesting places and monasteries. After visiting Lhasa, the group drove back to Kathmandu just in 3 days stopping in Shightse and Zhangmu.

View from Naylamthungla

Although, there were some hiccups on the way, the group was greatly satisfied and found the tour to be “excellent and memorable one’.

Potala Palace

Here is what they had commented concerning their trip and experience:

“We are very glad for the tourt to Tibet which was organized by Explore Himalaya! All journeys were nice and we like it! We are in Moscow now and full of impressions! Thank you! We’ll keep it in our memory during long time!” – Anna

“Thank you for a wonderful trip to Tibet in July of this year, for help and support. Impressions are very bright and with time do not fade”. Lyudimila

Norbulinka Palace

Karo la Glacier

Yam drok tso Lake

Photos: Lyudimila, Samundra

Tibet Overland Tours

Touring Tibet

Mrs Vinni Smed and her husband Mr Hans Hiordt Hansen this July led a cultural group of Seventeen people from Denmark to the Roof of the World – Tibet. The group arrived in Lhasa on a train from Beijing on 13 July and exited Tibet from zhangmu border to Nepal on 23 July. Thereafter, they spent 3 days excursing some of the UNESCO world heritage sites around Kathmandu valley before heading back to their homeland.

On this tour the group visited some of the famous sites in Tibet such as Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, Deprung Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Gyantse Dzong, Norbulinka Palace, Gyantse Kumbum,Tashilunpo Monastery and many more. They not only got to learn the culture, heritage and history but also got to view picturistic landscape of the beautiful country.  Also the centre of attraction was the majestic view of Mountains like Everest, Sishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shanker.

In Nepal some of the places the group visited were Pashupatinath Temple, Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

The group was very happy with the tour and organizing skills of our company. They wish to travel with Explore Himalaya if they ever happen to come again in the Himalayas.

Experience our Tibet Overland Tours


An American Family’s visit to Kathmandu and Pokhara

Frank Mayes, along with his family, explored the scenic and cultural hotspots of Kathmandu and Pokhara recently. The Mayes family (from USA )had actually planned to visit Everest Base Camp in Tibet but had to scrap their plans due to permit issues. As an alternative tour, the Mayes family enjoyed a cultural and scenic extravaganza to Nepal’s tourist hotspots Kathmandu and Pokhara. Before their departure, EH met up with Frank Mayes . Here’s his feedback:

EH: How was your tour?

Frank Mayes: Overall we had a very good and enjoyable time. We liked the people we met and the guide.

EH: How was the service of our staffs and guide in Kathmandu and Pokhara?

FM: The service of the guides was very good and we enjoyed their company. We felt very safe and secure with the company.

EH: Any special moment you would like to share?

FM: I personally enjoyed the music and dinner that we had. All of us enjoyed our visit to the Monkey Temple (Swoyambhunath). Visiting there is lot of fun and we learnt a lot about the origin of the Kathmandu Valley from that trip. The Hindu temple of Pashupatinath was also quite interesting.