Shigatse, the capital of the province of Tsang, is 354 km west of Lhasa. It is located 90 km west of Gyantse on the south bank of the Brahmaputra at the point where the Nyang Chu River flows into it. It can be reached by two routes from the capital by the Northern Road, which runs from Golmud and reaches Shigatse via the Daktsuga ferry over the Brahmaputra, of the Southern Road via the town.
Shigatse has long been the commercial and political centre of Tsang region. Formerly it was dominated by a massive castle built on the hillock above the old town. Only the basses of the ramparts are visible today, suggesting non etheless the grandeur of the building. This is where the powerful kings of Tsang lived, during their rule in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, the town has been the seat of the Panchen Lama. His monastery, Tashi Lunpo, is the only place of genuine interest left. Recently the Panchen Lama built a new palace, the Dechen Potrang but this is a building with little attraction.
How to Get to Shigatse:
- By air: there is a Shigatse airport, with connection to several cities in China
- By train: the railroad connects Shigatse with Lhasa
- By road: there are 2 main roads connecting Shigatse with Lhasa:
- Friendship Highway is the most direct route. It takes 6 hours to drive between the cities.
- The mountain road: connects two cities via the scenic road going through mountain passes, Yamdrok Lake, Karola glaciers and Gyantse town.
Shigatse is traditionally the stop over point on the way to the Everest Region. The road continues from there to Shegar, Tingri and Mount Everest Base Camp from there, as well as to Gyirong port – the newly opened border between Tibet and Nepal.
Places to Visit in Shigatse
Tashilhunpo Monastery is the center of attraction in Shigatse. It is an official seat of Panchen Lamas, the second most important Lama in Tibet, after the Dalai Lama.