Tagong Grassland Travel Guide, Sichuan
Tagong in Tibetan means 'the favourite place of the bodhisattva'.
Some 110 km northwest of Kangding, at about 3700m, the Tagong Grassland is a vast expanse of meadow lying beneath the sacred Yallah Mountain, and is landmarked by the famous Tagong Lamasery and the golden tower built to commemorate the living buddha, Panchan. The green meadow surrounded by snow-capped peaks and dotted with Tibetan herdsmen and tents.
Tagong is a very wild-west kind of Khampa town, with Tagong village, Tagong Monastery (Lhagong temple), Tagong Pagoda Stupa, Yala Snow-capped Mountain, Tagong Buddhism College etc around. An annual horse racing festival features thousands of local Tibetan herdsmen and Tibetan opera. The festival is held at the beginning of the 8th lunar month in Tagong grassland.
With recent improvements in roads and facilities, more tourists are making Tagong a place to relax and breathe in the Khampa way of living.
The average temperature is around 15°C. Rain season is from June to September.
Best Time to go
Summer and Autumn, from August to October is the best season to visit. The horse racing festival is also held during this season.
Getting in & out
Take the bus in Chengdu Xinnanmen bus station to Kangding(7 hours) first. Buy the ticket in Kangding bus station upon arriving and stay in Kangding overnight if you need to. Then take the bus in the same station next morning to Tagong(3 hours).
There are also vans outside Kangding Bus Station for hiring to Tagong in the afternoon, you may share with other people.
Frequent buses run from Kangding and Danpa to Tagong. From Tagong, there are trails heading off in various directions to different pasturelands. To trek around Zhara Mountain takes between 10 to 30 days. One can trek from here to Mogetso Lake, in probably two days--they are planning to put a road through, so trek now while you still can.
Tagong's facilities are primitive--forget about hot showers. There is a guesthouse in the government compound on the west side of the highway in the town center. Dorje Tashi Rinpoche runs a model orphanage nearby; they are glad for visitors. To find it, look for a new, ornate gate leading into a compound with a tall new building on the right side. If you planned ahead and picked up a few toys or kid's books in Kangding, they will be thrilled to receive them.
- Tagong Grassland - a vast expanse of green meadow surrounded by snow-capped peaks and dotted with Tibetan herdsmen and tents. The average altitude of the grassland is around 3500m. The well-known Tagong monastery is just sitting in the middle of the stretch. Tibetans celebtarate their their harvest and festivals here with drinking, dancing and singing for days, when is a good occasion to witness the truly Kham Tibetan folks. Also, the annual Horse Race Festival be held at the beginning of the 8th lunar month in Tagong Grassland.
- Tagong Monastery - a famous Nyingmapa monastery built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to commemorate the Han Princess Wencheng and Phags-pa, the Grand State Tutor of Tibetan Buddhism with Buddhism Institute inside, also named as "the small Lhasa Jokhang Monastery", is one of the 108 temples built during the reign of Songtsen Gampo in ancient Tibetan times. There is a sacred statue of 12-year old sakyamuni (Buddha) in the monastery, which have been brought by Princess Wenchen on her way to Lhasa. It collects statues, white towers, other cultural artifacts, and scriptures of the Sakya Buddhist sect. This temple is distinctive for its four towers painted green, red, yellow and white respectively. About 100 chortens lie behind the monastery. The place miraculously escaped destruction during the Culture Revolution.
There is a big Buddha Event around the 30th, June in Tibetan Calendar every year, lasts for about 3 days.
- Muya Golden Pagoda - Donated by a Living Buddha of Zhuqing Monastery (Nyingmapa or Red Sect.), the pagoda was built in 1997 with over 100kg pure gold to commemorate the Living Buddha 10th Panchan. Behind the pagoda stands Mt. Yala.
- Mt. Yala (5800m) - stands in the joint of Kangding, Daofu and Danba.The peaks are covered by snow year-round. It is worshiped by Tibetan as the patron saint of the place. The silvery Yala river is originated here and run down to meet the Dadu river. Around Mt Yala, scores of gullies radiate from the top and display various beauty of nature.
- Tagong Village - The small village is a fantastic place to visit if you want to get a taste of Sichuan's Tibetan Wild West. In the village, Lhagang (Tagong) Lamasery blends Han Chinese and Tibetan styles and dates back to the Qing Dynasty (17th century).