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Samís Photo Journey to Exotic Historic Shigatse (XigazÍ) Ė the Residence to the Panchen Lama

Shigatse (or XigazÍ) pronounced as shēgšītsĕ , is located in the center of a small, heavily populated alluvial plain near the Yarlung Zangbo (Brahmaputra) River. The second lmost important trade center in Tibet, it is on the ancient caravan route from Lhasa to Nepal, W Tibet, Kashmir, and Xinjiang China..  Other spellings of the name are Zhigatse, Zhikatse, and Jih-k'a-tse.

Sam's Exotic Tibet Photo - Three Dzongka Women in their native dress  What a Smile! Sam's Exotic Tibet Photo - Picturesque Shigatse Woman  Sam's Exotic Tibet Photo - Monk at Tashihunpo Monastery, Shigatse, Tibet

The city is primarily noted for its Tashilhunpo Monastery, built in 1447, a historic and culturally important monastery. Situated on a hillside in the center of the city, the Tibetan name means "all fortune and happiness gathered here".  The monastery is the traditional seat of successive Panchen Lamas, the second highest ranking lineage in the Gelukpa Buddhism, the ruling sect in Tibet from the sixteenth century until Chinese occupation in 1950.

This monastery was originally built by the First Dalai Lama, Gedun Drub, and was financed by donations from local nobles.  The Fourth Panchen Lama made major expansions to the monastery in the seventeenth century. Since then all Panchen Lamas have resided at Tashilhunpo, and have managed to expand it gradually.   It is one of the largest remaining Buddhist monasteries in Tibet today, with an estimated 4,000 monks within its walls.

Lobsang Trinley Choekyi Gyaltsen, the 10th Panchen Lama died mysteriously in 1989 in Shigatse at the age of 51.  He and most of the other Panchen Lamas are buried within the monastery. 

The Dali Lama traditionally searches for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, and the Panchen Lama is likewise responsible for searching for any new Dali Lama.  The Dali Lama in exile performed a search, but his selection was not recognized by the Chinese authorities.  Doing their own search, they have recognized Erdini Qoigyijabu as the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama.  He is currently studying in Beijing and the Dali Lamís choice and his family are believed to have been under "protective custody" in Beijing since 1995.

If all of this seems a little strange, I strongly recommend at 1997 firm directed by Martin Scorsese called Kundun, about the search for and rule by the current Dali Lama until his exile in 1959. 

View my video:

Or click below to view my impressions:

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Please note that all photographs and text appearing on this site are the exclusive intellectual property of Sam Stearman. No images are within the Public Domain, and no image use is permitted without the written prior authorization of the copyright owner.  If you see any pictures you would like to buy, all the thousands of pictures on this site are available in high resolution digital format, suitable for framing, use in magazines or advertising.  Email me if you would like to know more.