A Peaceful Welcome

If you ever visit a place on this small mountain range called the “Tibetan plateau,” one of the first things you’ll encounter is an abundance of cultural expressions. Colorful fabrics, Buddhist symbols carved in stones and paintings are on display everywhere. No need for reservation. You can see them all right from the road through the windows of your vehicle.

Buddhist beliefs, buddhist rituals. Overlooking the Rebgong valley from second floor of the stūpa. In view are the renowned artist village, Sengeshong (Wutong), and the upper and lower village temples. Lower in the valley, people are harvesting wheat. A golden time in the Rebkong Golden Valley.

It’s harvest time and Monguor villagers are drying wheat grain on the ground floor that connects the stūpa and monastery.

 

Your journey will seem much shorter than any brochure might say because you will be enjoying the view of prayer flags in every color, waving high as if they were saying “Welcome” or chöten (stūpa) standing tall in lush valleys wearing pure white, whispering “Hello” to you. Stūpa is a dome-shaped structure erected as a holy place for Buddhists. Yaks, sheep, and cows, business as usual, dot the pastures in the distance, and a feeling of peace of mind begins to envelop you.

Traveling to Rebgong (Reb gong or Rebkong) is no exception. When you see the eight Tibetan auspicious symbols, scripture, Buddha painted on roadside walls, mountain cliffs, and stones, you can interpret them for yourself, “Tashi Delek, you are in Reb gong—the Golden Valley.”

On this particular trip, my little brother and I planned to visit one of the most famous stūpas in the Amdo region, the Gomar Chöten (སྒོ་དམར་མཆོད་རྟེན). It’s about 20 miles outside the Rebgong town, in Gomar, a Monguor village. The giant, 7–story stūpa is part of Gomar monastery, which was originally built around 1741, and about 150 monks practice here.

Stūpas play a vibrant role in Buddhist practices. They are constructed to commemorate visits and gain spiritual benefits. And there are people every day, spinning prayer wheels. The rather small but peacefully beautiful monastery nearby is known for its colorful stūpa.

With those visual feasts along the ride, our road trip went by in a blink of an eye. All too soon, we were at our destination—the Gomar Chöten! 

 

Two Monguor mothers spinning Buddhist prayer wheels on the ground floor. Rebkong, Amdo, Tibet

Two Monguor mothers spinning Buddhist prayer wheels on the ground floor of the stupa.

 

Buddhist beliefs, buddhist rituals, second floor of the stūpa. Smaller ones (to the right) surround the centerpiece.

View from the second floor of the stūpa. Smaller ones (to the right) surround the centerpiece.

 

Buddhist beliefs, buddhist rituals

The aged small temple standing peacefully is part of the Gomar temple complex – opposite view from the stūpa.

 

Close-up of hand-painted art and Buddhas from the third floor, Gomar, REbkong, Tibet

Close-up of hand-painted art and Buddhas from the third floor.

 

Buddhist beliefs, buddhist rituals.

Official sign of the Gomar monastery in Tibetan (on right) and Chinese (on left).

 

View of the stūpa from the east in Rebkong, Amdo, Tibet. Buddhist rituals, Buddhist beliefs

View of the stūpa from the east.

 

A golden time in the Rebkong Golden Valley.

Overlooking the Rebgong valley from the second floor of the stūpa. In view are the renowned artist village, Sengeshong (Wutun), and the upper and lower village temples. Deep in the lower valley, farmers are harvesting wheat. A golden time in “Rebkong the Golden Valley” indeed.

 

 

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16 Responses to A Peaceful Welcome

  1. buppanasu November 20, 2014 at 8:53 AM #

    The narrative was a fun read and the colorful photos are gorgeous. Keep up the good work. Larry

    • Jolma November 20, 2014 at 9:50 AM #

      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment, Larry. I enjoy sharing my journey, and I’m glad you had fun reading.

  2. madrigorne November 20, 2014 at 4:16 PM #

    I want to visit there, but I would be uncomfortable unless I went with you I think. I would be afraid of breaking social taboo, of getting lost, of getting sucked into some tourist spot and not seeing the real truth of the place. Maybe someday!

    • Jolma November 21, 2014 at 11:49 AM #

      I’m glad to heat it, madrigorne. This is what I know for sure. You will experience an ancient culture that you won’t forget any time soon and gain life perceptive. You are welcome to go with me next time, but it will most likely be in the middle of coming winter.

      Summer is the best time to experience this cultural hub. I’m from this area, so whenever you decide the visit, I’d be happy to connect you with someone there so you are not lost or anything. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Castinel November 20, 2014 at 7:18 PM #

    Hi Jolma

    So nice to imagine such a place so beautiful and full of peace in this world so horrible at the moment! Tell me how to reach this area?

    I hope all is fine for you and your family. Aurelie has got a baby for three months, and we enjoyed to welcome them in Gap last month. But they had to go back to New Zealand. They plan to visit us in march for a month, and also to visit Josiane Archer in Hamilton.

    Hope hear from you soon.

    Cheers

    Bernard and Marie jeanne Castinel

    • Jolma November 21, 2014 at 11:56 AM #

      Bonjour Bernard and Marie Jeanne,

      What a lovely surprise to see you dropping by here!

      How do you reach this area? You simply let me know when you are ready. As you know, I was born and raised in Rebgong, and I have family members there. They do not speak French but some of the young can speak English, and they’ll certainly show you around.

      I am so happy to hear the baby news. Congratulations on becoming grandparents. Please send my love to Aurelie and Stephanie.

      I Skype with Josiane from time to time, and I will probably visit her sometime, too.

      My wonderful memories with you and your family in France are still fresh like it happened yesterday. And what’s more, watching and cooking French meals with Marie Jeanne. I enjoyed it very much, and I will be sharing the experience on my blog, unless you say otherwise.

      Au revoir
      Jolma

  4. Sara Kingsley November 24, 2014 at 9:02 AM #

    Fabulous color and detail. How is it all maintained? I really love seeing the prayer wheels, also.

    • Jolma November 24, 2014 at 12:00 PM #

      Hi Sara, thank you for stopping by. I’m so glad you love those golden, soothing prayer wheels.

  5. Peggy Gilbey McMackin December 4, 2014 at 9:50 AM #

    Hello Jolma, the prayer wheels are indeed beautiful and I enjoyed learning about the Stupas. Your photographs are lovely and so colorful and bright bringing such a delightful thought of Tibet. I was happy to see you today and come onto your blog to see your recent story. I must have missed it on LinkedIn. I earlier subscribed to Beyond Her Kitchen but did not receive your post- this happens frequently to me and others too. I may just subscribe again if I don’t receive your next post. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story, Golden.

    • Jolma December 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM #

      I’m so glad you liked my story and pictures, Peggy. I enjoy sharing wonderful things from my homeland.

      I am sorry you didn’t receive my recent post. Yes, some of my friends also missed emails some times, but I guessed they might be just gone to the Junk bin. I will check and make sure you will get it next time, Peggy.

  6. jennifer December 7, 2014 at 8:18 AM #

    So beautiful! I am so excited to see this for myself next year.

    • Jolma December 9, 2014 at 6:11 AM #

      Yes, you must experience the rich heritage yourself, Jennifer. Cheers!

  7. Kris February 11, 2015 at 3:39 AM #

    I love the color and the detail in everything. I enjoyed seeing the photo of the Gomar monastery because I had been wondering how the Tibetan written language looked.

    • Jolma February 14, 2015 at 11:17 PM #

      Hi Kris, Tibetan written language is very different from English or other Asian languages. The form is much like Sanskrit (classical language of Indian and the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism) but they are completely different.

  8. Amy February 17, 2015 at 10:07 PM #

    Hi Jolma…your pictures are BEAUTIFUL. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip. Take care.

    • Jolma February 18, 2015 at 11:07 PM #

      Thank you so much, Amy. I’m pleased you enjoy my posts.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

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