Along Tibet’s New Railway: Little slice of heaven nestling in the Himalayas, Nyingchi

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Publish Time: 2021-08-24 Author: Hong Yaobin From: CGTN

Editor’s note: CGTN’s "Along Tibet’s New Railway" series spotlights nine main stations on the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway line – Gonggar, Zhanang, Shannan, Sangri, Gyaca, Nang County, Mainling, Gangga, and Nyingchi, delving into the diverse natural resources and rich cultural backgrounds of south Tibet’s cities and counties.

The 435-kilometer-long railway shortens the journey between Lhasa and Nyingchi by around 3.5 hours. From Tibet’s first palace, Yumbulagang Palace, to the world’s deepest canyon, Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, tourists can enjoy the areas’ unique cultural and natural landscapes.

Following the first episode featuring the cradles of Tibetan culture and the second exploring the majestic yet mysterious hinterland in south Tibet, the third episode of "Along Tibet’s New Railway" focused on the last three stations in Nyingchi, a little slice of heaven nestling in the Himalayas.

Mainling

Spanning around 9,500 square kilometers, Mainling County is one of the six counties under the jurisdiction of Nyingchi, with over 26,100 inhabitants and various natural landmarks and historical monuments.

Situated in the middle reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River, Mainling, which means "where the herbs grow" in Tibetan, has abundant water resources and various wild-growing medicinal plants including Cordyceps, Rhodiola, Angelica and Saussurea.

The county is home to various natural wonders such as Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, the deepest and largest canyon in the world with a length of about 240 kilometers, and Mount Namjagbarwa, 7,787 meters above sea level, which is the highest peak in Nyingchi and one of the most sacred and famous mountains in Tibet.

Located at the entrance of the Grand Canyon, the small market town of Pai Town in Mainling is the best viewing point of the Namjagbarwa Peak, attracting numerous tourists and pilgrims every year.

Tthe county’s best landmarks include Neyul Valley Scenic Area with a total area of 8,600,000-square-meter forests, bridges, rivers, islets and a wide pasture, as well as the renowned Tashi Rabten Monastery situated in a town of the same name.

Gangga

Gangga is a village located in Chanag Town of Mainling County, with 64 households, 283 people of farmers and herdsmen. Covering more than 5,000 square meters, the Chanag Monastery is situated near the village.

The small village is now an increasingly busy transportation junction with the opening of the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway in late June. 

The newly-built Gangga Railway Station stands at the foot of a hill on the northern bank of the Yarlung Tsangbo that flows through the village.

The 2,000-square-meter station is the nearest station on the railway line to Tibet’s second largest aviation hub, Nyingchi Mainling Airport, only over two kilometers from the airport across the Yarlung Tsangbo. 

The airport is one of the world’s most difficult airports for aircraft to reach, since it is located in the winding valley of the longest river of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Nyingchi

Lying in Southeastern Tibet, Nyingchi, meaning "throne of the sun" in Tibetan, is a prefecture-level city bordered by Lhasa and Shannan to the west and southwest, Chamdo City to the east, and Nagqu City to the north, with one district and six counties, such as Mainling County and Nang County, under its jurisdiction.

The Yarlung Tsangpo River, the mother river of the Tibetan people, flows through Mainling County and among other counties of Nyingchi, which is sandwiched between the Himalayas and Mount Nyanchen Thanglha, and has an average altitude of 3,100 meters.

With relatively lower altitudes and a warm climate, the prefecture, dubbed "Little Switzerland of Tibet," is rich in water resource and contains diverse natural geological features, including lakes, mountains, valleys, forests, waterfalls and glaciers. With captivating views, it is regarded as a little slice of heaven on the Roof of the World.

In addition to the above mentioned natural wonders like Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, Nyingchi is also home to the world’s third deepest canyon Parlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, as well as Mount Bonri, one of the four great holy mountains in Tibet, and Basum Tso Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes on the plateau. 

The sacred lake, whose name means green water, spans 27 square kilometers at the altitude of 3,480 meters and is like a giant jade engraved in magnificent mountains.

It also has a significant number of historical monuments and religious sites, such as Buchu Lhakhang, the largest and most important monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Nyingchi.

In Bome County, there is a peach blossom valley covering nearly 155 square kilometers, which is the largest of its kind in China. 

Numerous travelers from home and abroad are drawn to the picturesque valley every year during the spring and summer, the best time to visit. Since 2002, Nyingchi has hosted the annual Peach Blossom Festival on March 26 with creative peach-related activities held across the city.

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