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My first visit to China was in 1986. After that I have been to this charming country several times and during these visits heard interesting stories about Tibet – The land of intriguing contrasts – around which countless yarns of facts and fiction have been spun. However, for one reason or the other I could not visit Tibet.

Though keen to avail myself of the earliest possible opportunity to visit Tibet I was a bit reluctant, rather nervous to go there because of my advanced age, especially when I heard the horrid stories about altitude sickness, leading to plateau pneumonic edema which could result in death. I jokingly told my hosts that I did not want to be a sacrificial lamb to be offered at the altar in Lhasa. However, when my host assured me that I would be provided with foolproof protection in Tibet I tamely surrendered and agreed to go.

I took a flight from Beijing to Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province and from there boarded a train for Lhasa, which weaved its way through a stunning landscape of the Qinghai – Tibet plateau and finally reached Lhasa after a long journey of about 20 hours.

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is a city of elegant and impressive public buildings intertwined with green spaces. In Tibetan language, Lhasa means ‘Holy’, no doubt it is a holy city as it houses two of the most venerated shrines in Tibet – the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple.

Religion, in fact, is visible in everyday life of the Tibetans. On the roads one can see people turning the handheld prayer wheels and chanting holy mantras from sutras. I also saw people prostrating themselves on all the fours, for every step they took, while going on a pilgrimage. On slope of the hills one can see white prayer flags fluttering in the gentle breeze. In Tibet I found that every home has its own temple and that some family still offer a child for monkhood. I have yet to see a culture so vibrant, so alive.

http://eng.tibet.cn/2012sy/xw/201507/t2 ... 46228.html

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