Buddhist tourist destination passes the Tibet test

28th Jun 2013

It is little wonder that Tibet is an increasingly popular tourist hotspot.

It boasts rolling Himalayan mountains that are ideal for trekking holidays, an array of cultural sites and magnificent architecture.

One Tibetan destination that encompasses all three of these features is the Larung Gar Valley.

This is a fascinating region that is home to thousands of tiny wooden houses that form one of the world's largest Buddhist institutes.

More than 40,000 monks, nuns and religious students populate the remote, sprawling settlement high up among 12,500ft (3,810 metres) peaks.

It is situated in the Larung Valley, Serthar County of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in China - and compares favourably with any other Tibetan spiritual tourist attraction this mysterious country has to offer.

Holidaymakers arrive here in search of peace and solitude, many to study Tibetan Buddhism, with the nearest large city, Chengdu, being located around 400 miles away (643km).

It is thought to have emerged from only a handful of settlers into the sprawling town that now populates massive swathes of hilly terrain.

A huge Buddhist monastery - the Serthar Buddhist Institute - is its focal point with an enormous wall dividing the monks from the nuns.

Japanese photographer Shinya Itahana visited the Larung Gar Valley several times to capture the eye-catching town through the different seasons.

Itahana said it is a very welcoming place providing you do not disturb the peaceful atmosphere.

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