Shelkar ཤེལ་དཀར, also known as New Tingri, is 7kms off of Highway 318 as you approach Dram from Shigatse along the Friendship Highway in the Tsang region of Tibet. In Tibetan, Shelkar means "white crystal". Even though scores of tourists pass through the region each year along the way to Mt. Everest Base Camp, relatively few people make it to Shelkar. Lying at 4150m above sea level, the village of Shelkar is not a bad place to spend the day, especially if you like hiking.
There are two main attractions in Shelkar. The first is the Shelkar Chode Monastery. This Gelugpa sect monastery was founded in 1266. Though in the past it was home to several hundred monks, today there are only a couple dozen or so living at the monastery. The hike up to the monastery will offer good views of the the village below. The monks are friendly and usually don't ask for any admittance fee like many of the other monasteries in the area do. People from the village below can often be found walking the small kora around the monastery.
The second attraction in Shelkar is the Shelkar Dzong (dzong means "fort). The remains of the fort lie above the monastery. The fort lies at the top of the mountain which is at least 1000m above the rest of the town. It is quite a hike and will take around 4 hours to reach the top. From the top, you will be rewarded with a good view of Mt. Everest. The trail leading to the top is decent for the most part, but some sections are in disrepair so make sure you have good hiking shoes on and watch your step. If you are unsure of which way to go, teen-aged guides can be hired in town for about Y40 to take you to the top. These guides don't speak English, but do speak standard Lhasa dialect as well as standard Chinese.
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