Travel Info


Xining is located on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the upper reaches of the Huangshui River. It is the political, economic, and cultural center of Qinghai Province with an average altitude of about 2,200 metres (7,200 ft). Human activity in the region can be traced to 2,100 years ago. During the Western and Eastern Han dynasties, owing to its developing agriculture, Xining was paid noticed due to its economic and military significance. As well as being an important hinge between the Central Plains and the western part of China in ancient times, Xining was an important link in the Silk Road. It continues to be an important rail and road link to the hinterlands of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Xining has also been dubbed the Summer Resort Capital of China owing to its cool summer, with a cold semi-arid climate. Conditions are influenced by the aridity and high altitude. Lows are cold or cool throughout the year, and highs are often more than 15℃ (27℉) warmer than lows. Monthly daily averages range from -7.4℃ (18.7℉) in January to 17.3℃(63.1℉) in July; the year averages at 6.1℃ (43.0℉). Rainfall falls mainly from May to September, and the area is often dry and sunny, with nearly 2680 hours of bright sunshine per year.

Kumbum Monastery(Ta-Er-Si Temple): 

Kumbum Monastery(Ta-Er-Si Temple) is a Buddhist monastery in Qinghai province, China. Kumbum was founded in 1583 in a narrow valley close to the village of Lusar in the Tibetan cultural region of Amdo. Its superior monastery is Drepung, immediately to the west of Lhasa. It was ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa.

Before 1958, Kumbum had 3,600 monks. At present, there are 400, as the monastery was affected by the PRC policies from the late 1950s. Of these, 300 are at the Debate College and the rest are distributed evenly among the other three colleges. Traditionally, the majority of the Kumbum monks have been Tibetans from Amdo, as at Labrang Monastery. The rest have been Mongolian Mongols (phyi-sog), Inner Mongolian Mongols (smad-sog, nang-sog), Upper Mongols (stod-sog) from the Amdo region east of Kumbum and Yellow Yugurs (yu-gur) from Gansu.

Kumbum is still a major pilgrimage for Tantric believers and scholars, visited by many thousands of people a year. The Arjia Rinpoches are traditionally given the position of abbot of Kumbum. The current Arjia Rinpoche defected to the United States in 1998. He is currently developing an exile campus of Kumbum Monastery in Bloomington, Indiana, known as Kumbum Chamtse Ling or Kumbum West.
The Kumbum monastery is still very much a repository of Tibetan culture and art, including various sculptures, statues and religious artifacts. It certainly is a repository of the Western respect for Tibet, as so many wayfarers from the West apart from David-Néel (P. Pelliot, E. Maillart, P. Fleming, E. Huc, André Migot) have spent time there.

Qinghai Lake: 

Qinghai Lake is the largest lake in China. Located in China's Qinghai province on an endorheic basin, Qinghai Lake is classified as a saline and alkaline lake. Both the current Chinese name "Qinghai" and the older Mongolian name Kokonur translate to "Blue Lake" or "Teal Sea" in English. Qinghai Lake is located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m (10,515 feet) above sea level in a depression of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, most of them seasonal. Five permanent streams provide 80% of total influx.
The lake has fluctuated in size, shrinking over much of the 20th century, but increasing since 2004. Despite its salinity, it has an abundance of fish, such as the edible naked carp (Gymnocypris przewalskii, huángyú).

Qinghai Lake is sandwiched between Hainan and Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in northeastern Qinghai. The lake is located at the crossroads of several bird migration routes across Asia. Many species use Qinghai as an intermediate stop during migration. At the tip of the peninsula on the western side of the lake are the "Bird Islands" (Cormorant Island and Egg Island), which have been bird sanctuaries of the Qinghai Lake Natural Protection Zone since 1997. The lake often remains frozen for three months continuously in winter.

There is an island in the western part of the lake with a temple and a few hermitages called "Mahādeva, the Heart of the Lake" (mTsho snying Ma hā de wa) which historically was home to a Buddhist monastery. No boat was used during summer, only when the lake froze over in winter could monks reach the mainland or pilgrims visit the temple - many of whom used to come from Mongolia. A nomad described the size of the island by saying that: "if in the morning a she-goat starts to browse the grass around it clockwise and its kid anti-clockwise, they will meet only in the night, which shows how big the island is." It is also known as the place where Gushri Khan and other Qoshot Mongols migrated to during the 1620s.

The lake is also sometimes circumambulated by pilgrims from the region. Przhevalsky estimated it would take about 8 days by horse or 15 walking to circumambulate the lake, but pilgrims report it takes about 18 days on horseback, and one took 23 days walking to complete the circuit.

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