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No other country on Earth was able to shroud itself in such a magic and mystique as the Buddhist kingdom of Tibet. Nicknamed "The Roof of the World", the country is located on a high plateau in the Himalayas, its inaccessibility making it to be associated in the western mind with the legendary Shangri-La. The kingdom of Tibet was ruled for hundreds of years as a monastic state, its leadership being under the strong influence of the powerful monasteries in the country. It was closed for years to foreign visitors, a fact that only increased its weave of mystery. Lhasa, its capital, off limits also, was the coveted prize for adventurers, travelers and many of the players of the relatively recent Great Game, who all wanted to sneak into the city. The Chinese "liberated" Tibet in 1951 and brutally invaded Lhasa in 1959 to quell the unrest that eventually triggering the escape of the Dalai Lama, but unfortunately forgot to leave and presently are constantly reminding everybody who want to listen, that Tibet is a part of China. They hope that this reminder may help because when you visit the country you realize right away that Tibet and its people do not have anything in common with their "liberators", the only thing to share with China being just a border. But the Chinese military help you not to forget the present, and hopefully temporarily, political reality, their presence being everywhere, in police stations, surveillance cameras, checkpoints, military garrisons, military convoys guarded by policemen every 10 feet apart, and in the day to day humiliations the Tibetans are suffering in their own country. In about a month we traveled in Tibet we saw incredible instances of these humiliations, in the rogue relations the people have with the police, in the denial of having a passport if you are a monk, in preventing families to send one of their children to monastery for education, in in the mandatory presence of the portraits of Mao and Deng in their houses, in the constant permit checks when they go in their pilgrimages, an act that is not just a diversion but part of their intrinsic inner essence. But in spite of these and many others, in spite of the tears in the monks' eyes who come to shake your hand just because you are there and see everything, in spite of the pledge of the pilgrims to get pictures of Dalai Lama or at least to see a picture of His Holiness that would trigger the immediate request to bless all their family with Lonely Planet just because it contains a drawing of him, the Tibetans are smiling (when they see non Han people) and their resilience after 50 years of occupation and oppression is astounding. There were 50 years in which they saw all their monastic elite leaving the country, their monasteries in ruins bombed by the Red Guards, their precious writing being deliberately burnt and 1.2 millions of their co-nationals being killed by the Chinese. But still after so many years of occupation if you visit Jogkhang temple or walk on Barkhor Circuit you witness the failure of Chinese policies of bending the spirit of these people. In no other country in the world you can see an entire population striving for spiritual merit, their religious life preceding in importance and time spent their non religious activities. You visit their houses or monasteries and they talk openly about the occupation, the word "Chinese" coming also with a sad sigh, they show you the hidden places where they preserve the precious picture of Dalai Lama, a prohibited item in Tibet and they tell you about the new Han colonization, a process that affects the entire country but is more widespread in the cities. The city businesses are mainly Chinese, and in spite of the fact that the quality of the services are at times better than the Tibetan ones, the cities are losing their Tibetan identity making an honest Chinese businessman we encountered to declare that he does not think that Tibetans can stand a chance to take advantage of their own country. But the Tibetans strength and stubbornness remain undaunted and they put a tremendous effort in rebuilding their monasteries, a process sanctioned by the Chinese government that figured out that they can do some money out of the Tibetan culture and by accepting to preserve the Tibetan cultural heritage and traditions. But in spite of the high entrance fees imposed on the monasteries the restorations are still done mainly using pilgrim donations.
We visited Tibet in 2002, the Year of the Horse, a very important religious year for pilgrimages and beside Lhasa with its astounding Potala Palace, its amazing surrounding monasteries and religious sites, we were able to travel much further. We visited Ganden Monastery, the seat of Ganden Tripa, the head of the Gelupka order, in the province of U. We visited the province of Tsang, with the remarkable monastery of Sakia, that had such a great role in the history of Tibet, Tashilhumpo in Shigatse, the seat of Panchen Lama whose personality is mixed presently in political controversy, the Gyantse's Kumbum and Pelkor Chonde Monastery and Yamdrok tso, one of the four major religious lakes of Tibet.
From there we pursued further to Ngari, Western Tibet, and we did the 3 day kora around Mt. Kailash, the most important holy mountain of 4 religions, an amazing and powerful spiritual experience, joining hundreds of pilgrims and yaks in climbing Droma La at 5630 meters. After the "kora" around the mountain, we relaxed around the beautiful Manasarovar lake famous also for its own "kora", a religious place mentioned 1700 years ago in the Sanskrit Puranas writings. From Ngari, we traveled over grassland to the Nepalese border and back to Tingri where the vista of the Himalayas is majestic. Later we drove to Rongphu Monastery at the base of the Mt. Everest and hiked from the Base Camp up towards the peak, and returned through Shegar to Shigatse, Gyantse and back to Lhasa.
Come with us and enjoy all this and many others in two fascinating travel videos: one about Ngari, Kailash, Manasarovar and the area around Mt. Everest.and one about Lhasa and the U and Tsang monasteries.
Lhasa, a mysterious city located somewhere over the edge of the world; a land brutally occupied by the Chinese; a spiritual devotion not easily encountered anywhere in the world; a charismatic leader well known the entire world, a deeply religious national spirit in a land covered in gilded temples
May 28: After numerous visits in the South West, USA we created a new video clip to show these new shoot locations.
Apr 3: We shot in the world renown "The Wave" in Coyote Butte, Vermillion Cliffs, in Grande Staircase-Escalante, UT and several other parks in the South West, USA. Check our blog!
Feb 28: We shoot for a month in the entire Sri Lanka and Southern India, from Trivandrum to Chennai, covering the most important Hindu Temples of the South.
Check our blog!
7 hours of SD footage and 500 Hi-Rez images from these locations:
Lhasa, Shigastse, Gyantse, Western Tibet (Ngari), Darchen, Kailash Mountain, Manasarovar Lake, Tingri, Everest, Rongphu Monastery, Nyalam, Friendship Highway