Yumbu Lakang- the First Palace in Tibet
Yumbu Lakhang was built for the first Tibetan King, Nyatri Tsanpo, in the 2nd Century BC and became the Tibetan Kings’ palace since then. It then became the summer palace for Princess Wenchen and Songtsen Gampo during the reign of Songtsen Gampo himself. The palace became a Gelugpa monastery during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama after Songtsen Gampo moved to the capital Lhasa in the 7th Century.
The name “Yumbu” means female deer named after the shape of the Jormo Zhaxi Ceri Mountain which looks like a female deer. “Lakhang” meaning sacred palace . Hence the name of Yumbu Lakhang means he sacred palace of mother and son” in Tibetan dialect.
Why is Yumbu Lakhang Palace special?
Yumbu Lakhang, counted as the first building in Tibet, is perched on the mountaintop with a history of over 2,000 years. Standing on the top of the tower house, you can enjoy the splendid panoramic view of the valley, and dream of the ancient legends of this palace.
Highlights in Yumbu Lakhang Palace
The Palace of Ancient Tibetan Kings
In the 7th century, Songtsan Gampo moved the capital to Lhasa and Yumbu Lakhang gradually became a Buddhist palace. The ground floor is the palace of ancient Tibetan Kings. Now in the middle you would see a statue of Buddha with Nyatri Tsanpo's statue on the left and Songtsan Gampo's to the right. The first floor is an elaborate hall enshrined the statues of Avalokitesvara and Sakyamuni. It's said the statue of Avalokitesvara in Yumbu Lakhang is as ancient as that in Potala Palace.
The walls are painted with beautiful murals which tell the early history of Tibet. The most famous one of those is the first one on the left which tells the story of the first Tibetan King Nyatri Tsanpo.
The highest point of Yumbu Lakhang Palace is a watchtower. It's said that Princess Wencheng lived here for her first summer in Tibet. Standing on the top and looking around, you can enjoy the excellent panoramic view of the valley.
Tibet Travel Tips for Yumbu Lakhang Palace
- You can reach the palace by walking (about 20 minutes) or hire a donkey, horse or yak to ride (30 RMB per person).
- The ground floor is free for a visit but you must pay 60 RMB for entering the first floor of Yumbulagang.
- On the way back to Tsedang, you could stop by Tradruk Monastery. 2 RMB for the bus ticket. Tradruk Monastery is a small monastery but it is the first monastery in Tibet. It’s famous for the pearl Thangka. You need to pay 70 RMB for the admission fee to see the pearl Thangka.