Yungbulakang Palace Tibet
Yungbulakang Palace (3,700m), literally meaning ‘mother-son palace’ in Tibetan, is reputed to be the first palace in Tibet history. The magnificent palace demonstrated typical Tibetan style. Lying 12 kilometers southwest of Tsedang, it perches on a small hill, Mount Zhaxi Ceri, east bank of the Yarlung River. ‘Yongbu’ means ‘female deer’ named after the shape of Mount Zhaxi Ceri resembling a female deer, while ‘Lakang’ means ‘sacred palace’. As one of the most ancient establishments in Tibet, this palace, a fortress-like building with many historical relics keeping insides, is a must-see site for those who want to learn Tibet history deeper. Besides its historical value, the view from the palace is beautiful by overlooking the various colors of the surrounding fields and villages in different seasons, which you shouldn’t miss during your visit.
With a history of over 2,100 years, Yungbulakang Palace was built in the 2nd Century BC by the Bon followers, for the first Tibetan King - Nyatri Tsenpo, who was said to have descended from Heaven. Later it became the palace for the successive kings and worshiped by Bon pilgrims. Legend has it that in the fifth century, a Buddhist sutra fell from the sky onto the roof of Yambu Lagang. Nobody could read the book. However a sage predicted it would be interpreted between the 7th and 8th centuries, and the sutra was kept secured in the palace. Until the 33rd Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, moved his regime to Lhasa and built two-story palaces on both sides of the original palace, Yumbu Lakang became a chapel but it was still the summer palace of Songtsen Gampo and Princess Wencheng. During the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama, it was converted to a Gelugpa monastery by adding a four-cornered golden pavilion roof at the basis of the original watchtower style building, which is kept intact now.
What to see
The entire palace has 2 parts, the part in front is a multi-story building, the back part connected with the front is a watchtower style building. It was enormously damaged during the Cultural Revolution, in 1982, the local Cultural Management Committee presided over the maintenance of this palace. With over 2 years’ efforts, its original appearance was basically restored.
The most impressive feature of this palace is its watchtower style building in the east center of this palace, said to be the earliest architecture built by King - Nyatri Tsenpo. This square-shaped building is 11 meters high, 4.6 meters long from north to south, 3.5 meters wide from east to west, with a shape of big in the bottom but small in the top. The exterior looks like a 5-story building, but actually, there are only 3 floors inside and floors are connected by narrow passes. As the highest point of Yungbulakang Palace, you can have a panoramic view of the beautiful surrounding landscape from this building.
The multi-story building in front is a chapel with many historical relics. The first floor is the palace of ancient Tibetan Kings including Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Detsen and their ministers in Tibetan history, in addition, it is also placed with figures of Avalokiteshvara and Sakyamuni. Around the wall, there are beautiful murals telling the early history of Tibet. The second floor is a small chanting hall, housing many bronze statues of grand Buddha, such as the Maitreya, Tsongkhapa, Manjushri, Guru Rinpoche, etc. The entire third floor was damaged during the Cultural Revolution and not repaired until now.
Useful travel tips:
- The opening hours of this palace is from 09:00 am to 18:00 pm.
- The entrance ticket is 60RMB per person, no photos are allowed inside the temple. However, if you don’t need to enter the main halls and chapels for a visit, no fee will be charged. Please ask your guide before entering.
- It is suitable for a visit during the whole year, however, the best time is from June to August, as the weather is the warmest, the landscape there is in their best shape with green fields and villages.
- In the ravine about 400 meters northeast of Yungbulakang Palace, there is an ever-flowing spring called ‘Ga Spring’, it is said that the water of this spring can cure any diseases, so many visitors would like to come here to have a drink while visiting Yungbulakang Palace.
- Visitors can choose to walk through the stairs and pathway in about 30 minutes or ride a horse through the winding trail up to the palace (Horse riding fees: 30 RMB/person up the hill, 20 RMB/person down the hill). It takes about 1-2 hours to visit the palace and its surroundings.
- On the way back to Tsedang, you may have a stop at Trandruk Monastery, which is the first Buddhist palace in the history of Tibet famous for its pearl thangka.