Litang ལི་ཐང་ is a large county in Garnze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture དཀར་མཛེས་བོད་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ་ in western Sichuan. Part of the traditional Tibetan region of Kham, Litang county sits almost entirely above 4000m. Most of the county is high elevation grasslands which are filled with yaks and nomads. There are several high snow-capped mountains in the county with Mt. Genyen being the highest at 6204m.
Litang has around 50 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, of which about half are of the Geluk sect. Litang has one of the largest horse festivals in all of Tibet. It is held each year on August 1st on the horse festival grounds just south of town. Tens of thousands of Kham Tibetans from the surrounding grasslands come and set up their tents for the festival. Several famous Tibetans have been born in Litang including the 7th and 10th Dalai Lama's. The actual house that the 7th Dalai Lama was born in over 300 years ago still exists and can be visited.
Though Litang county is quite large, most people only go to the county town. Litang town is 285kms west of Dartsendo དར་རྩེ་མདོ། (Kangding) and 615kms west of Chengdu. There are daily buses to Litang from both Dartsendo and Chengdu.
Litang town sits at 4014m above sea level and is one of the highest regions in Garnze prefecture (the Dzachuka area in northwest Garnze is higher). Litang is a good sized town and is well over 90% Tibetan. The Kham Tibetan men in town wear their hair long, often have one or two gold teeth and carry a long knife on their side. The women can often be seen spinning prayer wheels and fingering prayer beads. If you want to see traditional Tibetan culture, Litang is one of the best places to go in all of the Greater Tibet area.
The Litang Chode Monastery is on the north end of town. It was originally built in 1580 by the 3rd Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyamtso བསོད་ནམས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་. On the west end of town is the large Chorten Karpo (white stupa). Each day hundreds of Tibetans walk the short kora around the large chorten while spinning prayer wheels and chanting mantras. Walking the streets of Litang is also very interesting. There are numerous shops selling Tibetan goods, plenty of Tibetan tea houses to relax in and thousands of Tibetans to observe.
Litang is a beautiful place full of traditional Tibetan culture. Though it is a long journey from Chengdu, it is well worth visiting. There are several good guesthouses and hotels in town. The Potala Inn gets my recommendation as being a very foreign friendly place that offers Western food, free wireless internet and can arrange tours to places around the county. It is owned by a helpful Tibetan woman named Medok.
For more information about Litang or about other regions of Tibet, please send an email to email@example.com