TEA TRAIL THROUGH EAST INDIA

TEA TRAIL THROUGH EAST INDIA

Tea Trail through East India

This one is for the TEA Lovers.

I have created for you the perfect tea trail across eastern India. Be it the quite essential everyday brewed tea, the green tea for the weight watchers, the earl grey for those black tea lovers or my favorite Masala Tea with hint of Cinnamon in it. 

Explore the therapeutic aromas and the freshness of the tea as you stay amidst the plantations in heritage properties where luxury is the combination of simplicity and warm hospitality.

I bring to you the top places along with the plantations you can stay at for the best tea experience in India. You can visit just one of these places or combine them for the perfect tea trail.

If you are travelling from outside of India, you may like to fly to Kolkata to start your journey from there. Kolkata, once the greatest colonial city in the Orient, is now amongst the four major metropolis of India. Discovering the city that originated largely due to the colonialist ambitions of the European powers, especially the British Raj. The city retains some of the most striking colonial buildings of the country like the Victoria Memorial, which is a grand structure constructed in the memory of Queen Victoria. Visit Howrah Bridge, also called the hanging bridge is an architectural marvel and one of the oldest land-marks that represents this city of joy. See the Birla Planetarium, the second largest planetarium in Asia, another site that attracts attention of all regardless of their age. The Metro Railway, Indian Museum, Dalhousie Square, St. Paul/’s Cathedral, National Library, Shaheed Minar, Eden Garden, Fort William, Rat Park, New Market area and Marble Palace are some of the other sites that you can visit while you are in Kolkata.

From Kolkata fly to the very important tea center of Dibrugarh in Upper Assam area where you tour some of the best Colonial style Tea Estates in the country. 

The Mancotta Tea Estate in the outskirts of the town a beautiful tea bungalow surrounded by green plantations. The bungalow in the estate is a heritage building which was built as a residence for the British managers during the British Empire. It produces some of the best Orthodox tea in Assam, mostly packed with shiny golden tips. This estate also serves as the perfect getaway for some quiet time outside the busy city lives. If you do stay here, go for an early morning stroll into the tea gardens as it is the best time to experience the therapeutic aromas and the freshness of the plantations and interact with the tea pickers who are working in the estate. 
If you are looking for authentic handcrafted Organic Green Tea, Mukul Organic Tea Plantation is your place to be. Now home to various flora and fauna, Mukul estate is known for 100% organic green teas and you can also pluck tea leaves tea pickers for a first-hand experience.

If this is not enough and you want to become a storyteller too, head over to the EthelWold Tea Estate, located at the banks of the majestic Brahmaputra river, this estate with an interesting back story promises Assam’s best black tea. Don’t miss the opportunity of taking a tour around the plantation and get an insight into how your breakfast tea came into being! On your visit to this plantation just outside of Dibrugarh, you may also see a variety of resident and migratory birds and if you get really lucky you may also spot a Leopard.

At Dibrugarh, take a break from tea picking and tasting, go on a village walk to get close to the people and their ways of livelihood. In the evening, explore the New Market which is located just behind HS Road market and is the biggest shopping area and also has a big food market

Drive from Dibrugarh to Jorhat (about 138 kms distance)

At Jorhat do a tea tour through a 177 years old heritage tea garden, Cinnamora Tea Estate, as it gives an insight into the different activities that vary from season to season. It will tell you all about tea and its origin, how it is grown, tea tasting and its quality. The tea estate started functioning in the year 1850 and is located within 10 km from the Jorhat city center.

Here, Learn about CTC (Crush, Tear and Curl) method of processing tea. In this process the leaves instead of being rolled, are passed through a series of cylindrical rollers with hundreds of small sharp “teeth” that Crush, Tear, and Curl. This style of manufacture has the advantage that the finished product brews quickly, gives a dark infusion rapidly, is well suited for tea bags, and yields more cups per kg. In the Indian domestic market, this type of manufacture has virtually taken over about 80% of tea production 

Adds a beautiful color to tea made in the Indian style – RECIPE – Boil leaves in a mixture of milk, water and sugar and some spices (producing Masala Chai). With this production method, the tea does not get bitter, and its red colour comes through the white of the milk.

FROM HERE YOU CAN DECIDE TO HEAD BACK TO DIBRUGARH FOR A FLIGHT BACK TO KOLKATTA or you can make your way further to the very exciting MAJULI ISLAND (about 20 kms from Jorhat), a World Heritage Site located on the banks Brahmaputra River and is the largest inhabited river island in the world. Interact with the local tribes, tour the monasteries of the region and then take a depart for yet another world heritage site, the Kaziranga National Park (about 150 kms from Majuli island), where you might site the great Indian one horn rhinoceros during one of your safaris to the park.
After an adventurous couple of days of wild life sighting, drive approx. 4 hours to Guwahati, this city in Sikkim is one of the largest Tea Auction centers of the world. Explore the beautiful city of Guwahati and its market if you have the time and the next day fly to Bagdogra for further 2 ½ hours’ drive to another mecca for tea growers, Darjeeling. 

Here you visit the Glenburn Tea Estate. Explore the estate in the evening on foot with an audio-visual presentation on the history of Glenburn, and a brief overview of how tea is grown, manufactured and tasted. Visit the Tea Factory where you will be taken for a guided tour on how the leaf is brought in from the fields, weighed, and then taken through the processes of withering, rolling, fermenting, drying and sorting.

Interact with the Glenburn tea pickers and learn how to pluck the “two leaves and a bud” process, that is later manufactured into the tea that ends up in your teacup.

When you Darjeeling, DO NOT miss a ride in the famous Toy train with a steam Engine that takes you through the city and hill tops from where you can soak your eyes with the beauty of its lush green tea plantations. Toy Train tickets can be booked in advance and you can work the schedule of the train into the rest of your day and specific interests. There are morning trains that leave from Ghoom and head to Darjeeling Station, where our car will meet you, and afternoon trains that connect from Darjeeling to Ghoom on the way home.

From Darjeeling drive back to Bagdogra for a flight to Kolkata for your connecting flight back home.

Trust me, this tea trip for the soul is so wholesome that it will have you come back for more.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IN NORTH INDIA

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IN NORTH INDIA

I am so glad to report this paradigm shift amongst travelers who are now preferring a more SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE WAY OF TRAVEL 

Responsible tourism is when the whole community including the environment is benefitted by the tourist activities. It came into being when the locals of certain tourism dominated places and certain environmentalists questioned the tremendous effect of wastes left behind and its direct effect on the surrounding villages.

 

 

A BIG SHOUT OUT TO THESE HANDPICKED 12 RESORTS/HOTELS/LODGES/HOMESTAYS OF NORTH INDIA that took this initiative in hand in different yet effective ways, giving employment, staying organic, preserving natural resources, going solar, diminishing plastic usage, keeping the deep-rooted traditions and celebrate the diverse culture of the place and basically, uplifting the local community where they stand.

Mary budden estate in Binsar, Uttarakhand

Set in the middle Himalaya, just north of Almora in Uttranchal, India, is the Mary Budden estate. One of privately owned estates in the Binsar wildlife sanctuary. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Uttarakhand, in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas. Enjoy understated luxury in the wilderness. Enjoy understated luxury in the wilderness including solar powered lighting, heated running water, harvests rain water and its gardens are abundant with organic produce.

This place is very special to me, as this where my daughter saw her 1st snowfall on 1st of January 2020. When we arrived here, we met with the sweetest estate manager I have ever had the privilege of meeting and one of the first things she requested me was that if I decided to take a bath I should inform her so that to avoid wasting water her people can fill up the cold water in a bucket until the hot water comes out of the taps. At that moment, I just knew I was at the right place.

Jim’s Jungle Retreat, Ramnagar, Uttarakhand

The Retreat is situated in the lush southern forests of Jim Corbett National Park, in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. If you are looking for a stimulating yet relaxing stay in Corbett National Park, then this Retreat is the perfect combination of luxury amidst wilderness and an unforgettable, immersive wildlife experience. One will get a good feeler of their “Search the Tiger and find the Jungle” initiative, which will open your eyes to real problems faced by the reserves to save the tiger and it is applaudable. They have set up an organic nursery to cultivate grasses, trees and other native flora for planting on site and to provide support to the Forest Department in their afforestation efforts. They use solar power for heaters in the rooms and plastic bottles are not found anywhere in the resort. 

When I walked through those pebbled narrow lanes of this jungled resort, I did not realize that the indigenous trees and plants that I could see everywhere were planted about 20 years ago and then the owners just let nature take its course. So much so, that they don’t pick up the fallen branch and leaves and chimpanzees have made those trees their home.

Taj Resort & Spa, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 

Located in the yoga capital of the world, this Taj Resort with its eco-friendly habitat, is designed to not intrude on its premises. It creates a series of alternating spatial experiences that compound its organic feel. The resort is a tribute to the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and the outer Himalayas. The interiors interpret the look and feel of the region and are infused abundantly with local materials found in the nearby villages. The resort helps the local community by purchasing the locally crafted furniture for their rooms. This is one of the finest resorts in Rishikesh, with a blend of nature, luxury and sustainability. I like all of those words in the same sentence and everything about it. I love Rishikesh so much that I have visited it many a times and have seen and inspected (for work) many resorts there. One more trip is on charts to check out this fairly new place in town.

Nimmu House, Leh, Ladakh

Nimmu House is a delightful little sustainable eco-resort at 10,000 feet of altitude, in the heart of Himalayas and located in the traditional village of Nimmoo. It is about 45 minutes from Leh, capital of Ladakh. Considered as the ideal anchor sport for trekkers who want to explore the Himalayan paths or travellers who want to discover the cultural jewels of the region. Contributing to the preservation and valorisation of Ladakhi cultural heritage while reducing its environmental footprint at the same time supporting the local economy through tourism to empower the villagers. Equipped with modern flourishes like solar panels for heated water. I have lived in Nimmoo for more than a year when my father was posted to Ladakh and now I can’t wait to go back and experience this interesting place.

Nubra Eco Lodge, Nubra Valley, Ladakh

A local Ladakhi family are the proud owners of this beautiful eco lodge. For years they have worked on the arid landscape of this cold desert to make it a productive farm. During summers they grow organic vegetable in a garden and have a small green house for the winter. They also have their own wheat and barley fields grown nearby and a few cows and dzos – (a cross between a cow and a yak). Guests can enjoy freshly baked Khambir, which is a local Ladakhi whole wheat bread or a Sour Dough bread with fresh milk and vegetables from their garden. Staying in places like this actually helps promote local tourism, uplifts the community and also helps one understand the traditions and stories of their lives. For me travel is all about that.

Punjabiyat Itmenaan Lodge, Amritsar, Punjab

Set amidst acres of blooming farm land, here you get experience the calmness of the Punjabi countryside and farm life as you stroll the narrow lanes of organically nurtured crops. With farm to table experience, Punjabiyat has kept the essence of local culture, culinary flavours, tranquillity of the farm land alive. They do not believe in working in isolation or without the local communities, because of which they dedicate 10% of their profit for good causes within the community. Most of their purchase is locally grown and most the employees are locals from around the area. They have eliminated chemicals from their orchards and farms and constantly educate the farmer on land degradation problems and how to solve them. 

Itmenaan has a couple of more homestays and lodges spread across North India. And all of them are on my bucket list, especially this one as it showcases the essence of Punjab, just looking at the pictures I can smell the wet soil and picture the yellow mustard smiling and waving as the wind passes through. It automatically takes you back to simpler times. With close proximity to Amritsar a trip to the Golden Temple is a bonus

House of Rohet, Mihirgarh, Rajasthan

This luxurious 9 room boutique hotel is an envoy to everything that is Rajasthan. To complement the rugged beauty of the land, over 100 workmen were employed from the region itself to bring in the local touch. The soft, stylish furnishings have been bought from the Jodhpur region in Rajasthan itself. The village women of Khandi and Haji have created the fireplaces using age old technique of cow dung and clay. Their initiatives like collecting and filtering rain water, recycling draining and putting it to effective use, using solar energy to heat water for guests and above all the land around the hotel has been left empty so that local flora and fauna can thrive.

The love and passion with which this place has been created by Rashmi and Sidharth Rohet is admirable. From every colour to the last door knob, everything has been personally selected by the founders, which you can see when you visit this beautiful property.

Hara House, Bikaner, Rajasthan

India’s FIRST Zero Waste Guesthouse. They believe in positively impacting people and the planet through the travels of the people that visit them by investing 20% of profits into community projects. They provide reusable tote bags to guests to eliminate the need for disposable plastic bags while shopping. Their waste management systems ensure if by any chance plastic is used, it is put back in the system through closed loop recycling in Bikaner. For water Consumption they use grey water (collected from sinks and laundry machine) to clean our floors and flush our toilets. They encourage travellers to bring back all the waste throughout their travel and then they compost it right onsite to help their urban herb garden grow. They upcycle just about everything onsite as well, from creating art from cigarette packets, to crafting pillows and fashion items from left over textiles and foam scraps. 

Hara House is an epitome of experiential travel. Making friends, talking to other guests is so easy here and combine that with the idea that its India’s first zero-waste guesthouse started by Jazzmine Lawton Raine (from Canada) and Manoj Gour. This is the place where change actually happens

Khem Villas, Ranthambore, Rajasthan

Khem Villas is established on the land the founders Usha Singh Rathore, Goverdhan Singh Rathore & Pritam Singh purchased in 1989. They planted indigenous and homegrown trees, created small water bodies and have since converted this vast, open grassland into a natural habitat. Today, it is not uncommon to see jackals, jungle cats, hyenas, desert fox, and crocodiles, within the grasslands and around the luxury camp stead. Having a medical background, Goverdhan started a project around the park with the local people to help save the Tiger. With time it turned into a comprehensive Tiger conservation program unlike any other program in India. This project also helped establish a school, hospital, wood for wood project, biogas, non-formal environment education, legal aid to combat poaching and an anti-poaching sting operation along with other NGO’s.

I am personally in awe of the founders of this place. Khem villas is the kind of intensive change we all want to see in the actions towards protecting India’s National Animal, the Royal Bengal Tiger

SUJAN JAWAI, Jawai Bandh, Rajasthan

Name is derived from Jaisal’s great- great-grandfather, Sardar Bahadur Sujan Singh of Hadali, whose ancestors served as generals and commanders in the Sikh armies in the 17th century and worked closely with Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker to construct the new capital of India in 1911. Jaisal and his wife Anjali opened a unique destination hidden in the rural landscape of Jawai in the Pali district of Rajasthan. A ground-breaking conservation tourism project SUJÁN JAWAI, where leopards roam wild and free, coexisting comfortably with the charismatic communities and has been widely acclaimed as one of the world’s most unique and impactful wilderness destinations. Their family has been pivotal in working conserve and preserve wildlife through filming, monitoring, researching and creating awareness about tigers.

Sujan is an epitome of the phrase “luxury in simplicity”. It is all about the service here, which you may notice when you see people smilingly going about their daily chores. Even in the middle of no where you feel absolutely pampered.

Prakriti AaLay, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

To preserve ecological balance of its beautiful surroundings, the resort has been Intentionally kept free from all vehicular movements. Hence it is accessible through an exciting small trek of around fifty meters, followed by a picturesque foot bridge which connects straight to the resort. The belief and aspects of responsible tourism can be seen and experienced in the making as well as day to day running of Prakriti Aalay. They offer everlasting experiences that will tell the importance of eco systems of which we are all a part of and also showcase the measures they have taken consciously to lighten-up the load.

Dharamshala is the land of his Holi highness, the Dalai Lama. Thanks to the gorgeous views, the clouds passing through and easy approachability, this place is a popular tourist spot. This resort as that getaway in Dharamshala where you get that peace and quiet along with the cultural dose of this little Tibet in India

SOLO TRIP TO THE HIGHLAND THEATRE OF BHUTAN

SOLO TRIP TO THE HIGHLAND THEATRE OF BHUTAN

SOLO TRIP TO THE HIGHLAND THEATRE OF BHUTAN

What is it, that is so exciting about a Solo trip – that you travel at your own pace!!, or you explore things that inspire you!! or you just pick a lush resort, take a dip at the pool sipping your favorite cocktail? 

What if I share with you a solo trip that I recently did which combines all of the above and within short period of 7 days. 

NESTLED IN THE HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN RANGE, this small yet rich kingdom of Bhutan is blissfully untouched and ideal for a GREAT SOLO TRIP. Here you can step back in time and experience a life of ancient tradition or step forward in time and experience unbeatable luxury at some of the finest resorts. Bhutan’s location in the mighty Himalayas has protected it from the rest of the world and left it unspoilt through the centuries. For example, the Bhutanese people still wear traditional dress while archery is a national sport. What you might most enduring in the country is the architecture. All buildings whether large monasteries, private houses or even gas stations, are made in the same traditional design. 

You will witness that Bhutan is very protective of its natural environment and the culture of its people. It was only in 1999, the ban on television and the Internet was lifted, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. 

FOR THIS 7-DAYS TRIP YOU MAY IDEALLY COVER 3 MAIN CITIES-

 

THIMPHU, PARO, PUNAKHA

The best part is that Bhutan has really controlled its tourism with just one international airport at Paro and only 2 airlines flying in and out of the country – Royal Bhutan and Druk Air. You may choose to either fly to Delhi or Kathmandu and then take a flight further to Paro.

Day 1 – Land at Paro airport and drive from Paro to Thimphu– As you land in Paro, to start this trip I suggest you further drive to Thimphu, the Himalayan country’s capital and the largest city. The road to Thimphu first follows the Pa-chu (river) till the confluence where the Thim-chu joins. After reaching, check into your hotel, head over for lunch in one of the local restaurants (I love to try the local food of the places I visit so, I highly recommend Zombala2) in Thimphu. 

Then visit the Memorial Chorten (Stupa) built in memory of the Late King and walk around on the main street of Thimphu. Later, visit the Buddha Dordenma Statue, the gigantic statue of Shakyamuni Buddha erected on a mountain top is considered one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. It will amaze you if I tell you that there are 125,000 miniature Buddhas preserved inside of Dordenma statue’s bronze chest, ranging from 8 to 12 inches tall. This means that in Thimphu there are more Buddhas than there are human beings as the population of the city is just around 100,000 

Suggested Hotels – Taj Thimphu, Le Meridian

Day 2 – Drive from Thimphu to Punakha –   After breakfast, the choice is yours you may like to take a dip in the hotel pool, or get a Spa therapy, or do traditional Bhutanese prayer ceremony, or explore Thimphu a bit more with places like  National Library that houses an immense collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and the world’s largest book; the Painting School, where students keep alive the traditional art of painting sacred religious scrolls, the Folk Heritage Museum or the Textile Museum where we see a demonstration of traditional weaving; and Tashichhoe Dzong, the historic monastery that today houses government offices and temples.

After a nice Bhutanese lunch at one of the local cafes, drive to your next destination, Punakha via the Dochula Pass (10,000ft/3,050m), which offers stunning views of the Himalayas. Here you may sit and hear different versions of the same legendary stories from the locals and you may also follow the sacred tradition of raising prayer flags in the name of peace and wisdom. Continuing on to Punakha, you may like to visit a rice farming village where you can stop for a cup of tea and literally engage all your senses. Punakha sits at the confluence of the “Mother” river and the “Father” river in a sub-tropical valley and is home to my favorite ‘the Punakha Dzong’. I was lucky to stay at a homestay (Dhumra Farm Resort) on a hill top with a direct view of the Dzong situated between the Father river and the Mother river.

Suggested hotels – Como Uma Punakha, Dhumra Farm Resort, Dhensa Boutique Resort

Day 3 – Explore Punakha – Start your day with a hearty breakfast as there will be a lot walking and trekking involved today. Take a short trek through rice fields to visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple of the Divine Madman perched on a hill above a traditional village. The temple is a pilgrimage site for couples struggling with problems of fertility. After lunch at a local café on the trek back, you can visit the Punakha Dzong, winter home of the central monastic community and one of the country’s most attractive and historic monasteries, set on a small of land between the 2 rivers. It is a sight to behold but my crazy memory of the Dzong is when I was crossing the bridge to reach the Dzong I heard loud running sound coming from behind me and as I turned I saw a herd of cows rushing in my direction with some monks draped in red and orange running behind them trying to shoo them away.. After you explore the Dzong, head back to your hotel and relax. I personally loved to end my days with a glass of mulled wine, interesting conversations with the estate manager or other guests sitting around a bonfire and eating local delicacies.
Day 4 – Drive from Punakha to Paro – After a light breakfast begin your drive to the historic Paro. You will reach Paro around lunch time, so depending on your mood you can choose from restaurants like Sonam Trophel Restaurant, Mountain Café or Tye Ling. After lunch, visit Paro Dzong and Ta-Dzong, the national museum showcasing Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage dating from at least 2000 BCE to the present day. Built in 1648 as a watchtower, the cylindrical museum houses a fine collection of Bhutanese art and artefacts. You can continue the tour to Rinpung Dzong, a historic Buddhist monastery and fortress housing local government and monastic offices; and Kyichu Lhakhang, an important place of pilgrimage and ceremony for Bhutan’s royal family along with one of the kingdom’s oldest and most sacred temples. 

You can visit all the sites or stick to a selected few and choose other activities of your own like meditation, get to know the city on foot as you walk through the market area or cross a 700 year old bridge, connecting with locals with some butter tea and noodles, check out freshly brewed beer at the Namgay Artisanal Brewery that sits on a ridge with a view of the valley and a bunch of traditional houses spread across on the opposite side.

Suggested Hotels – Como Uma Paro, Le Meridian

Day 5 – Explore Paro – Believe me, I saved the best for the last. After breakfast at your hotel in Paro, drive to the foot hills of Taktsang Monastery, also called the Tiger’s Nest. From here hike up to the viewpoint of the sacred monastery, which is approx. 2,000ft/610m above Paro valley. I suggest you wear comfortable hiking shoes as there might be frozen ice on the ground covered with sand, pack a backpack with sunblock, chap stick and water, buy a walking stick or 2 from the vendors for support and balance and start climbing. For me this hike has a whole depth of meaning as I chose to start my new year with this hike and it was like meditation for me. It might sound crazy but the more I stopped to gasp for air because of the altitude the more I enjoyed this hike. Another option is to take a pony ride till half way and then climb up, but I chose to do the whole thing on foot.

This is a sacred place for the Bhutanese and every Bhutanese from far- away places try to visit, at least once in their lifetime. 

Lunch will be served at the Taktsang Cafeteria, which is approximately half way. This whole hike is about 5 kms round trip.

Later if you wish to visit the ruins of Drukyel Dzong, a victory fortress dating to the 17th century and to make it more experiential you may also choose to visit a Bhutanese farmhouse and meet the family, dive into their culture and traditions head on and geta first hand experience of this beautiful and a happy kingdom (this experience can be arranged by the tour operator managing your travels or you may speak to your local guide or request at the hotel)

DAY 6: DEPART PARO– After breakfast. Transfer to the airport for your flight to either Delhi or Kathmandu for your flight back.

As per the fight availability you may have to stay a night either in Kathmandu or Delhi

Kathmandu – I recommend staying at the Hyatt hotel as it in close vicinity to the airport

Delhi – I recommend staying at any of the hotels at Aerocity like J W Marriot. 

 

This is purely a suggested idea of an itinerary; you may choose to extend your trip for another 3 days and explore Kathmandu or stay in Bhutan and drive further to Bumthang. Hope you give this classic yet experiential journey a try and do share with me how it went for you.

LHASA UNVEILED

LHASA UNVEILED

LHASA UNVEILED

Being part of the Tourism Industry now for some years I have always been very curious by Tibet, eminently called the roof of the world and sharing about 3400 kms of international border with Nepal, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. It has always appeared veiled to the western world and I just wanted to unveil it a little bit.

So here goes,

Lhasa, at an altitude of 3,490 meters is one the highest cities in the world, an object of devout pilgrimage and heart and soul of Tibet. It is also the provincial capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. It is an ancient city with a history of over 1300 year as it became important as a vital administrative centre in the 7th century AD, when Songtsen Gampo a local ruler in the Yarlung Valley trying to unify the tribes of Tibetan Plateau, moved his capital to Lhasa and built a palace on a site called Patola. The temples of Ramoche and Jokhang, which are now exceptional Buddhist religious complexes, were established one by one to house Buddha images brought to Tibet as the dowries of Songtsen Gampo’s Chinese and Nepali wives.

Lhasa became the prime house of power and saw a lot of prosperity in its time, but later became a back-bencher as the power changed hands amongst different leaders until the fifth Dalai Lama (1617–82) in support of Qing government, defeated the Shigatse kings and moved his capital to Lhasa. He rebuilt and expanded the Patola Palace. In 1642, Lhasa was again the seat of the central government, a position it held into the until 1959, after which direct Chinese administration was imposed.

Despite all the modernization over the past few years Tibet has reserved the charm of its past, such as the fascinating Gompas, ancient markets, ever-smiling and fun-loving Tibetans and its beautiful turquoise lakes. Experience the grand architecture of the Potala Palace built on a Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley,  was the main residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959 or visit of the monasteries and experience Tibetan culture first hand as the monastery’s door open and you hear the music of gongs and strident trumpets mixed with the sound constantly swirling prayers wheels. The repetitive sound of chants fills the air inside the temples where the monks worship Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha.

Spirituality, a world that Tibetans believe can be reached through meditation and devotion. People here believe the mountains and lakes are homes for gods & goddesses and rocks have spirits. Circling around these holy mountains and lakes are believed to clean your sins, opens your minds and make you generous. Experiencing the tranquility of the sacred Lake Namtso on the foothills of the snow clapped mountains with fluttering wishing flags all around or light up the traditional butter lamps in the temples to spread brightness in your heart and others.