China // Tibet //

Tsetang and around

The town of TSETANG (泽当, zédāng), southeast of Lhasa and just south of the Tsangpo River, and the nearby valleys of Yarlung and Chongye, are steeped in ancient history. Legend claims the first Tibetans originated on the slopes of Gongpo Ri to the east of Tsetang, and that the Yarlung Valley was where the first king of Tibet descended from the heavens to earth upon a sky-cord. This king then fathered the first royal dynasty, many members of which are buried in the nearby Chongye Valley. The Yarlung Valley was also where, in the fourth century, the first Buddhist scriptures fell from the sky upon the first king’s palace at Yumbulakhang.

Tsetang is the base for a trip to Lhamo Lhatso, a sacred lake 115km to the northeast, where it’s reputed that visions appearing on the surface of the water contain prophecies. Regents searching for the next incarnations of high lamas come here for clues, and Dalai Lamas have traditionally visited for hints about the future. From the nearest town, Gyatsa, it’s a five-hour walk up to the lake, so you’ll have to negotiate with your guide whether to camp or make the long return journey in a single day.