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The Home of My Soul





2010-04-26 22:56:30|  分类: 驴行天下 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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5. Barley Fragrance Pervades Shigatse

Shigatse is located in a valley with plenty of sunshine, its agriculture is developed and it is one of the "the granary of Tibet". Shigatse in Tibetan means "wishful Manor" or “the Best Momor”.  Located in the southwest of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Ali is on its west; on its north is Nagqu and on its east is Lhasa and Lhoka; and it borders on Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim; boundary line is 1753meters long. The whole district has a territory of 182’000 square kilometers, with an average elevation of above 4,000 meters. Shigatse City, the second largest city of Tibet and the seat of the administrative office of the Shigatse District, is situated in the east of the Shigatse District north of the Himalayas at the confluence of the Yarlungzangbo River and its main branch Nyang Qu River. Shigatse City, with an area of 3700 square kilometers, average elevation of 3850 meters and bordering on Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, was political and religious center of Tsang and also the residence of the successive Panchen Lamas.

 After getting on board the Tibetan driver Quzha’s Toyota 4500 off- road vehicle and had went to the Border Detachment of Armed Police in Lhasa to get border pass, a man from Tianjin got on to share the car with us; his companions (a father and his son) were on another auto; the two autos would go together. Compare with Nyingchi, the place on the west of Lhasa is much more desolate. Getting out of the urban district of Lhasa westward, I saw the dark grey mountains were just exactly the same as I had seen in my dreams. On the way, there were many police vehicles overtook us. Quzha said one of the vehicles belonged to the leader of the Traffic Police Detachment of Lhasa. There were armed police soldiers guarding by the roadside with their back to the road, one for every few hundred meters along the road from Lhasa to the Gonggar Airport. Quzha said, normally a situation came like this, there must be a leader of the central authorities came to Tibet. Later, we learned that it was the 11th Panchen Lama ──Panchen Erdini Qoigyijabu ─── coming to Lhasa.

  Quzha was talkative, he told us something about the custom of Tibet, and didn't avoid the costume of celestial burial. He said, Celestial burial ground had once been opened to tourists, however, many people did not respect for the Dead having photographed the burial process and putting these photos on the internet with abandon, therefore it was closed to tourists later. Celestial Burial is to feed eagles with the body of the dead and the eagles fly into the sky after eating, then, Tibetans think that the dead has gone to heaven smoothly. Celestial burial ceremony is held on the celestial burial ground; every where has its fixed place. It was said that celestial burial masters in Lhasa were much more skilled. After someone’s death, the body will be curled up with the head to the knee and be wrapped up with white Tibetan Quilt and placed on the earth table on the right behind the door, and then a lama will be asked to chant a few sutras to free its soul; select a lucky day and bring the body to the celestial burial ground by a body carrier. The master burns incense and worships gods. Smoke is used to signal cinereous vultures, and vultures will gather around. According to a certain procedure, the body will be dismembered by the celestial burial master monk; cut on the back first , separate flesh from the bones; smash the bones with stone and mix with tsamba (roasted barley flour),the blood should be wiped up with tsamba, too. Cut the flesh into pieces and put aside, and then call the eagles with whistle; feed the eagles with the bone and then, fresh until all being eaten up. Cut open the joint, if the liquid flowed out is white, it means the dead was healthy; if the liquid is yellow, it means the dead is not healthy. If the deceased died of infectious diseases, it will not be celestially buried; it should be wrapped in white shroud with Tibetan medicine and buried in a pit of three meters deep and the top should be flat, no mound is allowed. The eagles behave well; they will not come and eat without whistling. Those do not behave well are strangers, maybe from India. One must pay for celestial burial, normally one thousand to several thousand RMB; however, if the poor can not afford it, then he can pay as much as he wishes.

 In our conversation, Quzha mentioned that to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tibet's democratic reform——“the Liberation Anniversary of Millions of Serfs in Tibet” the central government gave every village an off-road vehicle with the words “Gifted by the CPC Central Committee” on it. And he said, in the eyes of other people, Chairman Mao was, at most, an outstanding leader of the state, he’s a man, not god; but in the hearts of many Tibetans, Chairman Mao was god, not a man, he was Living Buddha——the Reincarnation of Manjusri Bodhisattva (no wonder many Tibetans call the PLA man “Buddha soldier”. We can see that, generally, they have a psychology of admiring the PLA). Chairman Mao’s pictures are worshiped in many Tibetans houses, and I saw this in a Tibetan’s house in Shangri-la County Yunnan Provence when I was in the house to buy Chang (highland barley liquor).

 To go to Shigatse from Lhasa, you can take the south route ── s307 (provincial highway 307) which leads to Shigatse via Gambara Pass, Nagarze, Kharola Glaciers and Gyantse, or take the north route, the State Road 318, leading to Shigatse along the Yarlung Zangbo River via Nyemo Canyon. Nyemo Canyon is craggy, and the rocks are loose. At some places loose rocks are fixed with metal meshes to prevent collapse; there are seldom vegetations on the banks in this section of the Yarlung Zangbo, at best, only some Jiji (sound like this) grass, these give one a strong visual impression of the western landscape. View is suddenly wild, getting out of the Nyemo Canyon; white clouds were drifting leisurely in the blue sky and the vast field was endless. The off–road vehicle was speeding on the vast land of Tibet; fresh and cool plateau wind was whistling on my face and gladdened my heart and refreshed my mind. The road is fringed with poplars swaying in wind and there were pieces of highland barley and blooming rape flowers beyond. From time to time, there would be villages and the former manors came into view. Dazhuka, where the Yarlung Zangbo Bridge is located, is flat and barren. “Dust storms and tornadoes are frequent here.” said Quzha.

Tashilhunpo Monastery can be seen on a hillside far from the outskirt of Shigatse; the city is exuberant, like an oasis on wilderness. Entering bustling urban district, you can see buildings, street lamps, billboards and all the things a modern city owned;all these made me back on earth from the former dreamlike mood. It seems that the religious atmosphere in Shigatse is denser than it is in Lhasa,maybe it is because of the stores which can be found everywhere along the streets selling religious articles and Tibetan goods and the incense in the air everywhere. I have never seen those gigantic prayer wheels which are about several meters high and over one meter in diameter, and the giant willow trees along the street.

   Tashilhunpo(Bkra-shis lhun-po in Tibetan)means“Auspicious Sumeru Temple”,the full name is “Tashilhunpo Baijideqinqutangjielenanbajiewalin”, which means “Auspicious Sumeru Concentrates Spiritual Blessing to the Extraordinary, States and Prefectures”; located on the eastern slope of Nima Hill west of Shigatse, Tashilhunpo is the largest monastery in Shigatse. Tashilhunpo has been the residence of all the successive Banchen Lamas since the fourth Banchen Lama. Along with”the three major monasteries”: Ganden, Sera, Drepung Monastery of Lhasa, Tashilhunpo is included among the “the four major monasteries” of the Gelug Sect; “the four major monasteries”, Taer Monastery in Qinghai (Koko Nor) and Labrang Monastery in Gansu are listed side by side as “the six major monasteries” of Gelug.

Although Tashilhunpo is not so spectacular as Potala, visiting it will be a problem without a guider; prayer circumambulation of Gelug Sect is clockwise, and the monastery visiting should be done in this way, too, no turning back is allowed. We got lost in it and could not find the way out, so we had to follow a tour group, but the guide stopped here and there, explaining; he was not hurry to go out, but we had no such patience, so we had to find another way, and finally, we got out of the “labyrinth” with a small violation of the rules.

In Shigatse, most of restaurants sell Sichuan food; some are Tibetan food but no many. I am not quite used to Tibetan food, Chang (Highland barley wine), roasted barley flour, buttered tea are just ok for me but no more. The traditional diet of Han People is more suitable for me. There are many hotels in Shigatse but still in short supply in tourist seasons. The hotel we stayed in was awful, no body was willing to stay in, this was why we were able to check in. the hotel was run by two Tibetans (I only saw two), a male and a female. There is a shabby courtyard behind the building, hotel guests can park their cars here; the third floor and beyond is a foreign language school. The room doors are either loose or can not be opened when you are in, you can only knock at the door hard to let the hotel clerk hear you and come to help you. No hot water for shower; Televisions do not work or work poorly; door of cabinet would fall down if you open it; some of the rooms’ floors subsided and the ceilings collapsed. Same as in Lhasa and Nyingchi, wherever we stayed the bugle calls from Military barracks could be heard.  

  At 6 o'clock before dawn the next day we got up and started our journey to Qomolangma Nature Reserve. On the way, nothing could be seen except the asphalt road surface in the light of the auto until daybreak when golden rape flowers and green carpet-Like barley on both sides of the road appeared. Gradually rising sun on the horizon casted rays obliquely on the distant hills, ravidous hills became glittering, casting long shadows behind. The straight road stretches to the horizon endlessly. I did not expect as much, in Tibet the roof of the world, that there is a so vast wilderness which is unthinkable in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.

 To be continued



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