Sitting at an elevation of 3,900m, Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet. Shigatse is the location of the huge Tashilunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the second in authority to the Dalai Lama in the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism (the sect which controlled Tibet from the 16th century until the Communist takeover). Successive Panchen Lamas form a tulku reincarnation lineage, which are said to be the incarnations of Amitabha Buddha. Who the true present (11th) incarnation of the Panchen Lama is, is a matter of great controversy.
The People’s Republic of China asserts it is Gyancain Norbu (Qoigyijabu), whilst the Tibetan Government in Exile maintains it is Gdahun Choeki Nyima, whom they allege to be missing with his family since 1995.
A huge monastic compound of golden-roofed venerable buildings and cobbled lanes, which dates from 1447 when founded by Gendren Drup, the 1st Dalai Lama, Tashilunpo is extremely extensive.
The gold and silver funeral chorten of the 4th Panchen Lama, was the only chorten in the monastery to escape destruction during the Cultural Revolution. The larger, jeweled chorten nearby holds the remains of the 10th Panchen Lama who died in 1989. In the Chapel of Jampa, is a 26m high golden image of Jampa, the future Buddha. Made in 1914, it took almost a 1000 artisans almost 4 years to complete.
To get you started with planning your holiday to Shigatse, we have showcased below some popular itineraries requested by our clients which we hope will inspire your visit to Himalayas