See Tibetan Buddhism Practiced in Tagong, Kham, Tibet
Tagong is a small Tibetan town located about 100 km northwest of Kangding. It’s known for Tagong Grasslands, nomads, horseback riding, Tibetan homestays, and monasteries. Lhagang Monastery is at the center of the town’s activities. It was built in 652 by the 33rd Tibet king, Songtsam Gampo. Locals have later built over 108 white stupas behind the main temple and hundreds of prayer wheels all around the monastery. Pilgrims who are not able to travel to Lhasa visit Pal Lhakhang Monastery, as it houses the second most important Buddha Shakyamuni statue in Tibet. With support from Tibetan Village Project, Tagong Orphanage trains about 40 boys annually with the goal of preserving Buddhist traditions.
Tagong Escape is designed as an Add-on Trip after you finish your main trip, or this can be a trip of its own if you do not have a lot of time. Travelers can spend a few days in the Tagong area with the options of participating in temple activities such as meditation and daily kora (circumambulation), visiting a nearby nunnery, riding horses, hiking on the Tagong Grasslands, and volunteering at Tagong Orphanage. We recommend that you drive to Kangding from Chengdu as a way of adjusting to altitude and then fly back from Kangding Airport to Chengdu.
Tagong Escape is designed as an Add-on Trip after you finish your main trip, or this can be a trip of its own if you do not have a lot of time. We assume that you will have explored popular places such as Panda Park in Chengdu on your own, as this trip starts and ends in Kangding. We recommend that you drive to Kangding (either via bus or a private car), and our guide will meet you in Kangding. However, if you have been in Tibetan areas (or used to high altitudes), you could fly to Kangding from Chengdu, and our guide will meet you at the Kangding Airport.
As local custom dictates, it will be appropriate for us to go to a monastery as the first activity of the trip on Tibetan soil and make some offerings (our guide will tell you how) to purify our intentions of the trip and prevent obstacles such as sickness! Kangding (Tibetan: Dartsedo) was the ancient trading center of the Minyak region of Kham, Tibet. Today, it is a thriving city with a blend of Chinese and Tibetan cultures. The city has several large Buddhist monasteries and a Tibetan museum. Nearby, Paoma Mountain is a sacred site for Tibetan Buddhists. Travelers can explore the mountain’s park and view the surrounding scenery. In the afternoon, we will drive to Tagong (12,139 feet) and stay with a local family.
Tagong is a small Tibetan town with about 200 households that is located about 100 km northwest of Kangding. Pal Lhakhang (many just called it Tagong Monastery) is the center of activities. Lhagang Monastery was built in 652 by the 33rd Tibetan king, Songtsan Gampo. Locals have later built over 108 white stupas behind the main temple and hundreds of prayer wheels all around the monastery. Pilgrims who are not able to travel to Lhasa visit Pal Lhakhang monastery, as it houses the second most important Buddha Shakyamuni statue in Tibet. As part of the Tagong homestay experience, you will have an opportunity to go horseback riding for few hours, as Tagong is known for it.
We will get up early to experience nomadic culture at a nearby camp. Nomads generally milk their dri (female yaks) early and then take their yaks to an upper pastureland. You will have an opportunity to milk a dri and then accompany nomads on a hike for a few hours while surrounded by green grass and wild flowers. After a lunch picnic with nomads, we will move to Tagong Town, where you will spend the afternoon with kids. With support from Tibetan Village Project, Tagong Orphanage trains about 40 boys annually with the goal of preserving Buddhist tradition. You will have an opportunity to make a difference by distributing school supplies (ask us for a list), cooking dinner for 40 kids (they love to taste new food), and working with the kids to pick up trash (sanitation is a big problem).
About 30 years ago, a group of Tibetan nun-pilgrims found a Yagi, known as Gen Tsepen, meditating in a cave above Tagong Town. When the nuns found him, he had already been there for several years, and Gen Tsepen was the perfect teacher the nuns were looking for. They decided to stay in nearby caves, served the Yagi, and received teachings. Because of this precious, unique teaching and safe environment, many women who were victims of domestic violence became nuns there. When Gen Tsepen passed away, some of his seniors, including Tulku Druktak, took on the Yagi’s legacy. They built a nunnery that now houses over 400 nuns and a monastery that houses over 200 monks. As part of the Tagong Escape experience, we will spend a day exploring the nunnery, monastery, and caves and also visit a nearby village.
Apo, one of the local monks at Tagong Monastery, has completed a 3-year retreat in a small hut above Tagong. You will have an opportunity to meditate at the hut but in the early morning. This is a perfect way to end your Tagong Escape before we drive to Kangding Airport for you to catch your flight back to Chengdu. Your local host family will say good-bye with khata offerings and may offer you some of Tagong’s best yogurt to take with you for the road. After all, Tagong is also known for its yogurt, and other villages anywhere in Tibet are simply not able to make the same yogurt.