Gyantse (རྒྱལ་རྩེ་) is a mid-sized town located 260kms southeast of Lhasa. It lies along the southern route of the Friendship Highway that links Lhasa with Kathmandu, Nepal. Sitting at an elevation of 4000m/13,125 feet, Gyantse has a population of around 20,000. Most people only stay in Gyantse for a day and honestly, that's really all you need in order to see all the sights. In the early summer Gyantse hosts a horse festival which is well worth checking out.
The main attraction in Gyantse is the Pelkor Chode Monastery. Pelkor Chode was founded in 1418 and was originally a compound containing 15 monasteries from 3 of Tibet's 4 main sects of Buddhism. The Gyantse Kumbum (pictured at top) is the biggest and most famous chorten (stupa) in Tibet. It rises to 35m/115 feet high and the inside is covered in endless Buddhist murals. Unlike other chorten in Tibet, you can actually go inside the Gyantse Kumbum. The entrance fee into the Pelkor Chode Monastery is Y50/person.
The second attraction in Gyantse is the Gyantse Dzong. The Dzong is an old military fort that was originally built in the 14th century. The top of the Dzong is a 20 minute hike from the gate. The top (pictured above) offers great views of the city and of the plains surrounding Gyantse. Be careful hiking around the Dzong as there are a lot of places where you could twist an ankle...or worse. The entrance fee into the Dzong is Y30/person, but it is quite easy to bargain it down to Y20/person.
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