Jigdril, known as Jiuzhi in Chinese, is a county in Golog Tibet Autonomous Prefecture in southeast Qinghai province. Jigdril lies over 800kms from the provincial capital city of Xining and about 70kms from Ngawa (Aba) county in Sichuan. Jigdril (གཅིག་སྒྲིལ) is part of the Amdo region of the Tibetan Plateau. Most of the inhabitants of this area are Tibetan nomads. During the summer, black yak wool tents are seen throughout this area. This area does not get the coverage it deserves in guidebooks and is one of the true hidden gems of the Tibetan Plateau. Very few foreigners visit this area though it is perhaps one of the most amazing areas in Qinghai.
There are numerous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the area, mostly from the old Nyingma Sect. The largest and most famous monastery in Jigdril is Tarthang Monastery. It has over 400 monks and has many nomads coming to worship at it each day. Monks at Tarthang come from all over the Golog region and from neighboring Ngawa (Aba) county in Sichuan province. The mountains behind the monastery are worth hiking to get a good view of the monastery and surrounding area.
Going southeast from Tarthang Monastery you cross over a 4400m/14,435 feet mountain pass offering a sweeping view of the Nyenbo Yurtse mountain range. A little over an hour from this pass you will reach the road leading to the holy mountain of Nyenbo Yurtse. Nyenbo Yurtse, rising to 5369m/17,612 feet, is the second most important mountain in the Amdo region of the Tibetan Plateau. Nyenbo Yurtse is an impressive looking mountain with a deep blue colored alpine lake surrounding the north side of the mountain. Thousands of pilgrims make the 12 day outer circuit or the 6 day inner circuit around the mountain each year. The entrance fee into the the Nyenbo Yurtse park is Y60 per person and is good for 2 or 3 days. From the park entrance to the mountain, it is a 3 to 4 hour hike. There are no hotels, stores or restaurants in this area so be sure to have all the food and water that you will need. Nyenbo Yurtse is one of the most amazing places in Amdo.
The county town of Jigdril is quite small, but offers inexpensive rooms in basic guesthouses. There are several small restaurants and plenty of small stores to replenish your stock. Getting to Jigdril is not easy. There are daily buses to Jigdril from Xining that take between 14 and 18 hours depending on the weather. There are also daily buses to Jigdril from Machen (Dawu) and from Ngawa (Aba).
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