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Introducing Gyantse

One of the more pleasant towns around Tibet, Gyantse (Jiangzi), located in the Nyang-chu Valley, is famed for the Gyantse Kumbum, the largest chörten in Tibet. The white chörten, a magnificent tiered structure, contains a seemingly endless series of mural-filled chapels and offers outstanding views from its upper levels.

Most people rush through Gyantse, stopping only to see the kumbum (100, 000 Buddha images), but the Gyantse Dzong, which dominates the town’s skyline, should not be missed, especially if you are feeling a little Buddha-burnout from endless monastery visits. For those with more time, there are some pleasant day trips that involve hikes to little-visited monasteries in the vicinity. And no matter what your schedule is, try to find a little time to wander the back streets of town: the mix of pilgrims, children, pop music, cows, motorcycles and mud is as true a picture of contemporary Tibetan life as you’ll find.

If you happen to be in Tibet in early June, note that Gyantse has a horse-racing and archery festival during this time, though the date could change again.