I have begun formulating a plan to travel to the pristine and little known area of Sertar in the Kham region of Tibet/China. Sertar is home to the Larung Gar Monastery and Buddhist University, the largest dedicated settlement of Tibetan Buddhist Monks and Nuns, and the world’s largest Buddhist University. Very little information is available on this amazing place, and I have had to track down a few savvy travelers on the web who have actually been there, and can assist in navigating the journey from Chengdu. It will be a 2 day bus ride, a very bumpy one I hear, from Chengdu to Sertar.
I first heard of Sertar while attending a teaching by Khenpo (A title denoting a Buddhist Scholar) Tsultrim Lodro, the successor to the founder of Larung Gar, Chogyel Yeshe Norbu Jigme Phunstok. His talk and the insight he gave into the already familiar Buddhist teachings on compassion and the need for unity were a welcome re-introduction to Buddhist philosophy in my life, and he even chose to answer my question about lucid dreaming, giving a detailed and fascinating description of Dream Yoga and it’s use in Tibetan Buddhism. After the talk I became entranced by the (admittedly very few) photos of Larung Gar I found online. I was told by some that it was heavily restricted area, and not open to foreign travelers. I was quite dissapointed to hear that!
A few months passed and I ran across an online discussion regarding travel to Sertar. My eyes lit up when I saw people discussing the fact that travel is currently open to the area, and I set out to find all the information I could. I found a great travelog called straightondetour, where the author Prue Sinclair offered me advice and a heartfelt recommendation to travel there. I also ran across the stunning photos of Larung Gar by Wanson Luk (below), and decided to contact him. He has been very helpful in detailing the route I should take, and the details of what it is like in this truly foreign place. So if you’re reading this Wanson, Thanks!
So my plans have begun to solidify. I plan to go in May or June of 2016, to arrive between the bitter cold winter, and the grey monsoon. I am hoping this time period will allow me to take some long exposure and timelapse photography of Larung Gar, that I have come to learn is quite rare. Photography may be my main mission, but I am also very interested in visiting such a bastion of Tibetan Buddhist culture, something akin to what Lhasa must have been like in the 1950’s before the Chinese began transforming it into… what it is now.
I have a number of months of hard work and saving ahead before I can comfortably up and leave, but the thought of this adventure is more than enough to keep my hand steady at work, and my mind pining for a new adventure. The road beckons once again!
You can visit Wanson Luk’s Instagram @ https://instagram.com/6ws/