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Yumbu Lhakang Palace


Yumbu Lhakang PalaceIn the vast southern area of Mount Kailash and the Nyainqentanglha Range, Yarlung River flows unhurriedly and undertakes the  irrigation responsibility for  the river valley.As the result, it germinates  the most prosperous region of the whole Tibet – Shannan. A number of “firsts” of the Tibetan ethnic group were born in this region, including the first Buddist sutra scripture, the first plot of highland barley, the first family hall for worshipping Buddha, the first Buddhist monastery, the first village, the first tombs complex for the Tubo kings, etc. Among other “firsts”, there is the first palace of Tibet, Yumbu Lhakang.

Viewed from the distance on the vast plain, Yumbu Lhakang stands solitarily like a castle on a hill top. In the Tibetan language, "Yumbu" means female deer, and "Lakang" means holy palace. Jointed together, "Yumbu Lakang" means "the palace built on a doe's leg". It is so named because the hill where the palace was built on resembles a deer's leg.

A palace for Tubo kings initially, Yumbu Lhakang was transformed into a temple by the 5th Dalai Lama. Statutes of Buddha Sakyamuni, Tsongkhapa along with his two disciples, and prominent kings and ministers of Tubo Kingdom, e.g. Niatri Tsampo and Songtsen Gampo, and are placed in the main hall for worshipping. Murals remain visible telling stories of the kings and the Buddhist religion.

Visiting Yumbu Lhakang is a trip to learn Tibetan history. Rather commonplace as the palace looks, it is held by the Tibetans as the birthplace of Tibetan temporal history. It was the palace built over 2,000 years ago for Niatri Tsampo, the first king of the Tubo Kingdom. Niatri Tsampo was said to be born in Pome, a county in southeast Tibet. When he came to the Yarlung River valley regions, local tribes were stunned by his weird looks, and, thinking he must be a god descending from the heavens, elected him their king. It is from Niatri Tsampo, the palace’s first host, that Tibetans in the Yarlung River valley regions started shifting from a nomadic to an agricultural society. And the Tubo Kingdom, backed by its economic power based on agriculture, gradually outrivaled all other tribes and unified Tibet in the early 7th century under Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd Tubo King.

The palace is also a Buddhist holy place known for the first Buddhist sutra scripture discovered in Tibet. During the reign of the 28th king, Lha Thothori Nyantsen, in the fifth century, a golden Stupa, a jewel (and/or a form to the manufacture of dough-Stupas) and a Sutra that no one could read fell from the sky on the roof of Yumbu Lhakang; a voice from the sky announced: “
someone who understands its meaning will come in five generations !”

The first cultivated field in Tibet, called Zortang, is located to the northwest on the foot of Yumbu Lhakang. Even today farmers sprinkle soil from Zortang on their own fields to ensure a good harvest.


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