Old Tibet – Cultural China
Words by Stephen Mam
Deep in China, nestled in between snowy mountain tops and at the meeting of the raging Zhéduō and Yǎlā rivers, the city of Kāngdìng sits as a gateway into the Tibetan Sichuan. While China is certainly not overlooked as a tourist destination, the gorgeous town of Kāngdìng, in the Sichuan province is underestimated as a holiday destination, as many pass through it traveling to other towns and cities in the Tibetan plateau.
“Nestled between snowy mountain tops and raging rivers”
Historically, Kāngdìng has been a trading centre between the Tibetan and Han Chinese, and now itis a cultural melting pot of Tibetan, Han, Hui and Quian populations. Kāngdìng is a unique cultural getaway, steeped in Tibetan tradition, culture,and food.
Kāngdìng is renowned for its culture with many unique sights to see, including the four main monasteries. The central Ānjué Temple has been largely rebuilt, but has history dating back to 1652. Of the other temples, the Nánwú temple is the most active monastery in the area, belonging to the Yellow Hat (Gelugpa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The four hundred year old Jīngāng Temple is also close by.
“Steeped in Tibetan tradition, culture and food”
The fourth monastery, Pǎomǎ Temple, is found halfway up the famed Pǎomǎ Shān Mountain. The stunning view from Pǎomǎ Shān overlooks the town, and the surrounding snow-capped mountains and valleys, making the hike well worth the journey.
“The stunning views overlook the town and the surrounding snow-capped mountains and valleys”
The food is also exceptional, with cultural influences from both Chinese and Tibetan traditions. Numerous restaurants and cafes offer Tibetan cuisine, ranging from the traditional (and acquired taste) yak-butter teas, to reliable standbys of tasty noodle soups, lamb and yak meat dishes. As a fair warning, it’s Tibetan tradition to notslaughter the Yaks, so you can be guaranteed that the yak meat comes from an animal that died of natural causes.
Those who visit Kāngdìng remark on the laidback pace of life- especially after travelling through the bigger, mega cities of China. Not to be overlooked when heading to the Tibetan region, Kāngdìng offers travellers a breath of fresh air.