Princess Wencheng Temple


Dedicated to the Tang dynasty Chinese Princess Wencheng, who was instrumental in converting her husband and Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, to Buddhism in the 7th century, this small, sacred and age-seasoned temple marks the spot where the princess (and possibly the king) paused for a month en route from Xi'an to Lhasa. It's said to be Qinghai's oldest Buddhist temple; the inner chapel contains a rock carving (supposedly self-arising) of Vairocana (Nampa Namse in Tibetan), the Buddha of primordial wisdom, which allegedly dates from the 8th century.

To the left is a statue of King Songtsen Gampo.

Fifteen kilometres south of Yushu, the small temple is set against the cliff and suffered minor damage from the 2010 Yushu earthquake. Look around the surrounding rock faces for ancient rock and scripture carvings. Do allow time to explore the nearby hills and marvel at the sprawling spider’s web of blue, red, yellow, white and pink prayer flags that runs up the slopes, down the slopes and over the ravine and road, covering every inch of land.

A steep trail (a popular kora route for pilgrims) ascends from the end of the row of eight chörtens (Tibetan stupas) to the left of the temple. At the end of the trail head up the grassy side valley for some great hiking and stunning open views.

Private minibuses (¥200 return) depart from outside the long-distance bus terminal in Yushu, or a taxi costs about ¥100 to ¥120 return. Consider stopping by on the way to the airport if you are flying out of Yushu as the temple is en route and the taxi driver should only ask for a bit extra to visit.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Qinghai attractions

1. Yushu Earthquake Relief Memorial Hall

7.03 MILES

Located behind the Yushu Earthquake Memorial, this poignant museum is dedicated to the relief operation that ensued after the 2010 earthquake that killed…

2. Yushu Earthquake Memorial

7.04 MILES

Standing at the entrance to town is the only surviving building from the 2010 earthquake. As it was low season, no guests were staying at the Gesar Hotel …

3. Gesar Square

8.28 MILES

Alongside one of the tributary rivers of the Chang Jiang, Yushu’s central square is dominated by a colossal statue of King Gesar of Ling, the revered…

4. Yushu Museum

8.44 MILES

This huge and excellent museum is a must-see to put some of the region's history and culture into perspective, including informative and well-presented…

5. Seng-ze Gyanak Mani Wall

8.51 MILES

Completely rebuilt after suffering extensive damage in the 2010 earthquake, this site is thought to be the world’s largest mani wall (piles of stones with…

6. Jyekundo Dondrubling Monastery

8.63 MILES

First built in 1398, the Jyekundo Dondrubling Monastery suffered heavy damage from the 2010 earthquake (the main prayer hall was completely destroyed and…

7. Sebda Gompa

13.11 MILES

The main assembly hall at this monastery is impressive, but most surprising is the temple featuring a huge 18m statue of Guru Rinpoche, with smaller…

8. Drogon Gompa

22.69 MILES

This Sakyapa-school monastery is notable for its scary gönkhang (protector temple). Set atop a hill, it is adorned with snarling stuffed wolves and…