Yumbulagang Palace - The First Palace of Tibet
Yumbulagang Palace is the first palace in Tibet built by the first Tibetan King, Nyatri Tsanpo, in the 2nd Century BC. Situated in the hilltop of southeast of Tsedang, Shannan Area, it was changed into a temple during the Songtsen Gampo times, and become one of the Gelugpa temple in the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The name “Yumbu” means female deer named after the shape of the Jormo Zhaxi Ceri Mountain which looks like a female deer and “Lagang” means sacred palace. Hence the name of Yumbulagang is translated as " the sacred palace of mother and son " in Tibetan. As one of the first buildings in Tibet, the palace has a watchtower styled building with many historical relics kept inside. It is a must see for tourists who are interested about Tibet history. Besides the architecture itself, the views from the hill top are amazing by overlooking the green fields and villages around, which can’t be missed out during your visit.
Yumbulagang Palace Facts
- Historical Buildings, Religious Site
- 3,740 meters
- Tsedang Town, Naidong County
Yumbulagang Palace History
With a history of over 2100 years, Yumbulagang Palace was built by the first Tibetan King in the 2nd century BC, it was the palace for successive kings and was worshiped by the Bon believers.
Until the 33th Tibetan King - Songtsan Gampo moved his regime to Lhasa, since then, Yumbulagang was changed into a Buddhist temple with a further extension. At the same time, it acted as the summer palace of King Songtsan Gampo and his wife Princess Wencheng. It was said, the first summer of this couple in Tibet was spent here. Later, the 5th Dalai Lama changed it to the Gelugpa temple by adding golden top of the four corners on the tall building.
During the history, it went several destructions and most of the buildings were ruined and the remains were rebuilt after 1982. Now like other temples of Tibet, it is mainly dedicated to the worship of Shakyamuni Buddha. As for the splendid history, there are various murals and wall paintings telling its stories of the first king of Tibet, the first architecture of Tibet and the first land in Tibet.
Yumbulagang Stupa on the Hillside
Yumbulagang Palace Highlights
As one of the earliest buildings in Tibet, Yumbulagang Palace has a typical architecture by divided into two parts: the multi-layer building in front and a square tall tower standing behind connected with the front part.
Watchtower Style Architecture
In the east center of this palace is a watchtower styled architecture, which was said the earliest building by Nyatri Tsenpo. With 11 meters high, 4.6 meters long from north to south, and 3.5 meters wide, it is trapezoid-shaped with smaller size on top standing tall on the hillside. There are three floors inside and connected with a narrow pass for each floor. With thick walls, this building covers no more than 11 square meters in total. By such a small space, it was more likely one part of the whole palace left for today. As the highest point of Yumbulagang Palace, you can enjoy the excellent panoramic view of the valley.
The multi-layer building in front is a Buddhist temple with many historical relics stored. The first floor is the palace of ancient Tibetan Kings, including different Buddha statues of Nyatri Tsanpo, Songtsan Gampo and other political figures in Tibetan history. Around the wall, there are beautiful murals which tell the early history of Tibet, and the most famous one is on the left telling the story of the first Tibetan King Nyatri Tsanpo. On the second floor, there are many Buddha statues enshrined, like the Avalokitesvara, Sakyamuni, etc.
Beside those statues, you can visit around the annexe building on the southside of the main palace, where to find the bedroom of successive Dalai Lama lived when they had liturgy, which was repaired and opened to public.
Yumbulagang Watchtower Building
Narrow but Historic Yumbulagang Inner Hall
How to Get to Yumbulagang Palace
Located in the Shannan Area, with a distance about 10 km from Tsedang Town, this temple sits on a craggy promontory in the hillside of the Jormo Zhaxi Ceri Mountain.
You can take different transportations from Tsedang. There are taxis or private cars waiting to drive you back and forth, also you may take the local tricycle or ride a bicycle. No matter which transportations you take, they all only stop at the foot of the mountain, visitors still have to climb mountain up by yourself, or hire a horse.
If you want to transfer from Lhasa directly, the best way is to take a private car, which will be offered free by joining our private Tibet Tours. With other transfer information, please ask our travel consultants for more details.
Full View of Yumbulagang Palace
Useful Travel Tips
● Visitors can choose to hire a horse to ride up the winding trail (30rmb per person) or walk up a combination of stairs/pathway for about 30 minutes. When get to the top of the palace, you can have a full view around the whole scenery.
● If you want to visit the main halls and chapels, there is a ticket fee for 60 rmb each person. Otherwise, it is free to see other parts and around. Please ask your tour guide before entering.
● It opens to tourists from 09:00 to 18:00. And one or two hours is enough to visit around, there are many prayer flags tied along the steps nearby the palace to add more colors to this ancient building, where is a great location to have a panorama view of the flatland around and enjoy the sunset if you are happened to visit in the dusk.
● There are some local vendors on the way up to Yumbulagang selling prayer flags, and other souvenirs with a negotiated price. You may buy some flags to stand on the hill top and let the wind do the rest.
● About 400 meters in the northeast from the hillside, there is an ever-flowing spring called “Geer Spring”, and the spring here is said to can cure any diseases, which is famous and many visitors would like to have a drink while coming to Yumbulagang.
● On the way back to Tsedang, you could drop at Trandruk Monastery, the first monastery in Tibet and famous for its pearl thangka, which is worth seeing.
Tourists Climb to the Front Watchtower
Colorful Prayer Flags along the Path
How to Plan A Tibet Tour
Tibet is too vast to be visited in one single trip, but planning ahead of time can make most of your holiday. A classic Tibet tour always takes about 4 ~ 8 days. Apart from 2 days for arrival and departure, it usually needs 2 other days to explore majestic Potala Palace and other landmarks in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. With a day trip’s distance from Lhasa, Namtso Lake is another perfect tour extension if you visit Tibet from May to October.
To explore further, it’s strongly recommended to travel from Lhasa to Mount Everest via Gyantse and Shigatse, which usually needs 4 more days. It is an unforgettable sightseeing trip with lots of attractions to visit, such as Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Kumbum Stupa of Palcho Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc. Of course, the biggest draw must be gazing upon the unparalleled north face of the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest.
For Buddhist followers and hiking lovers, you are suggested to travel to Ngari to join the kora around the holy Mt. Kailash and sacred Lake Manasarovar, which usually takes about 5 ~ 8 more days from Lhasa. The wild nature of Ngari is spectacular as well.
If you have your own needs or interest, just feel free to contact us to customize a trip of your own!
Shannan Travel Guide
Recommended Tour Packages
Escorted by a skilled private drivers and companied by a professional local tour guide to organize all the activities, all you have to do is to enjoy your fantastic Tibet journey. Time can never be wasted waiting for a group, hopping on and off buses or negotiating unfamiliar destinations.
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