Tsetang is the jumping board for exploration of the Yarlung valley area which is the cradle of Tibetan civilization. This area has the oldest building in Tibet, Yumbu Lagang, the oldest monastery, Samye, and has the birthplace of the six original Tibetan clans, the Monkey Cave on Mount Zodang Gongpori.
THE YARLUNG VALLEY
The Yarlung Valley which is 72 kilometers long is said to be the cradle of Tibetan Civilization. Here lies the birthplace of the six original clans and it is the home of the great Tibetan empire that reigned in the sevnth and eight centuries. The people living in the Valley have created their own unique folk culture and this Yarlung culture has been an important component of Tibetan Culture. Tsedang is seen as the jumping board of the Yarlung Valley.
The Tradduk Temple, located in Nedong, three miles from Tsedang up the Yarlung Valley is supposed to be the first Buddhist temple. It was established by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and belongs to the Gelugpa Sect (Order of Excellence). The main attraction of this temple is the Assembly Hall. The images enshrined here are all bronze and the corridors are covered with murals.
The Tombs of the Tibetan Kings:
The Tibetans didn’t give their Kings a sky burial but choose interment in tombs instead. Experts differ in their explanations; some believe this was due to cultural influence of the Tang Dynasty in China, others consider this was a result of Buddhist influence. Both of these explanations have been determined by an archeological survey of Tibet, started in 1984, which has discovered over 1000 graves in 20 groups near Nedong. Since these graves belong to a Neolithic culture, which flourished over 3000 years ago, it appears that burial in the ground was a common practice long before the Tibetan Kings were interred in tombs.
Tumuli of the Ancient Kings
Situated in Chongye, Lhoka, the Tumuli are a group of tombs containing the kings of the Tubo Kingdom. They are massive knolls of earth with flat tops like platforms. There are eight tombs that can be seen including the tombs of King Songtsen Gampo, Tride Tsukten and Trissong Detsen.
Yumbu Langang, built in the second century B. C. is the first palace in Tibetan history. The original has been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and has been restored. The building faces west and stands high on top of a hill. Statues of the Three Periods of Buddha, the Tibetan king Nyatri Tsenpo, Lha Tho – Tho – Ri Nyantsen, Tri Ralpachen, Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen are all enshrined in the palace.
The Samye Monastery is the first Monastery ever built in Tibet by King Trisong Detsen in the eight century together with two Indian masters, who he invited from India. The monastery is situated 30 km from Tsedang. The monastery was designed and created in the shape of the universe from a Buddhist viewpoint and the architecture consists of three distinct styles, namely, the Han, the Tibetan and the Indian. The monastery was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt three hundred years later to serve as the residence of the 6th Dalai Lama.