Ganzi (Garze), Sichuan:
The public minibus brought us from Yushu in Qinghai (~3,700 m) to the mid-sized town Ganzi in Sichuan (~3,400 m). However, we wanted to see something from the countryside before visiting the bustling city and took a taxi to Beri Gompa approximately 10 km towards the west. This little monastery occupies a quiet spot among fields and tiny villages. A friendly monk invited us to climb onto the roof of the temple offering spectacular views across the valley of the Yalong River. From Beri Gompa we hiked along narrow and winding country roads back to Ganzi. The changing scenes with fields, yaks, some wildlife, and farmhouses with its friendly inhabitants were really great!
On the following day, we took a taxi to Darjay Gompa, a large monastic complex around 30 km west of Ganzi. In the grasslands behind the prayer halls lies Talam Khang, a tiny temple within a small courtyard inhabited by three friendly monks offering rustic overnight accomodation. After we settled in the dormitory situated in the first floor above the main hall, we hiked through the countryside with its fields, villages, ruins, and still more temples. Unfortunately, the weather was rainy dampening our enthusiasm. After warming-up with a meal of hot noodle soup and chatting a little with the monks and some Israeli tourists, we slept very well through the chilly mountain night.
In the morning, we hitched a ride back to Ganzi (also spelled Garze) and finally explored the city. The most striking feature of the town are the numerous old wooden houses with their colourful gates. In addition, the busy town features the fantastic and very atmospheric Degongbu Temple (Temple of the Hans) as well as a big monastery dominating the old town. Here we were invited by a couple of monks to drink our first Tibetan butter tea. Although the communication was difficult due to the language barrier, the hospitality of the Tibetans was once again magnificent! All in all, it was great to notice how the people in the area had preserved their own cultural identity. After feeling the political tensions during my visit to Lhasa in 2007, I was happy to see the 14th Dalai Lama being revered in many temples and houses.
After our last night at the Hotel Himalaya in Ganzi, we took the minibus to Litang (click here for a video of the trip). The road followed a narrow gorge and traffic was interrupted several times by landslides. The architecture of the village houses also changed with the appearance of multi-storey buildings resembling little fortresses. Eventually, we reached Litang – one of the highest settlements on earth at an altitude slightly above 4,000 m! You can read all about our visit there in the following post!