Tagong 塔公 and the area around

Tagong (or Lhakang in Tibetan), altitude 3800m, is the site for a large ancient Tibetan monastery, called Tagong Si (or Pel Lhagong in Tibetan). In addition to this, there are at least three newly built monasteries, and good possibilities for mountain walks around the area.
The town is small, about one kilometer long and a few hundred meters broad. There are several hotels and hostels.

Edited by Hans Schaefer, December 2011.

More info:

Tagong on wikipedia
Pictures of Tagong monastery

How to get here:

From Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, through Kangding on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, road no. 318, head west up the Zhe Duo La pass (4200m altitude). From here, you either follow the highway to Xindu qiao (most buses go here), then take another road towards north for another 30 km (with buses), or you follow the road to Kangding airport just west of the pass and from there a small road, 46 km long, over the hills to Tagong (minibus only).

In November 2011, there was a little snow, but walking was easy. Temperatures were freezing at night and just above freezing during the day.

Here is a description of possibilities for such trips, together with pictures.

The central place in
      Tagong

This is the centrtal place in Tagong, with the entrance to the ancient monastery behind the two pilgrims. The monastery shop selling souvenirs to the right. Towards the left, outside the picture, you find "Sally's hostel" and several hotels and restaurants.
The hill behind is on the other side of the river. There are three triangle-formed fields of prayer-flags and a tibetan prayer in the middle, built og concrete charters. The hill is 300 meters high and steep, but it is possible to scramble up through the flag-field or towards the right outside the little farm visible on the picture. Inhabitants of Tagong told that these flag-fields are built not only for the sake of prayers, but also in order to look nice.

Inside the monastery
      in Tagong

This is the front staircase of the temple inside the Tagong monastery. The boys are helping carrying scaffolding to repaint the walls.

people spinning
      payer mills outside the monastery

This is part of the gangway surrounding the monastery, fitted with prayer mills. Tibetans are walking around here, turning the mills.
When going around here, make sure you always walk clock-wise. It takes about 15 minutes to walk round the monastery on the outside and you will see many pilgrims going the same way.

Tagong monastery
      from above

This is the Tagong monastery as seen from the flag field on the hill northwest of the town, about 100 meters above. Behind the monastery is the central place with hotels and restaurant to the right. You also see part of the gangway with its prayer mills.

Tagong from the west
      die of the river

This is part of the Tagong monastery with the prayer mills, as well as the Stupa above town, seen from the west side of the river, viewing east to northeast. Behind town is Yala Shan, a 5820m high peak, about 20 km from town. The Tagong Grasslands (塔公草原) are behind town. If you enter them from the town proper, you will not need to pay an entrance fee. 500m up ortheast along the road is a new monastery. Guards there will charge you an entrance fee of 10 RMB fro climbing the hills. However, you may rent horses at this place, and one trip is to a nunnery about 10 km north of town along the way towards Bamei - Danba.


Tagong hills

This is the new monastery west of the river in Tagong. A triangle-shaped field of prayer flags has been erected on the hill behind. Yaks and horses are often grazing on the grassy hills, even now in winter. You reach this monastery by crossing the river. A street bridge is located about 300m downstream from the ancient Tagong monastery. Just follow a side road form the main road towards west. From the river bridge, cross another small brook (you either need boots or good balance to cross a very small pedestrian bridge), then it is another 300m north to this monastery. You may continue apath leading up the hill towards the right (outside of this picture. The hills are 4050m high.

New monastery

This temple and monastery is located about 500 m west of town, on the other side of the river. Follow the road straight on from the river bridge. It seems to be totally new. Prayer flags are hung from cables from the top of the hill to the botton of the vally on the other side. It is easy to clomb the hills from here. The dog in this picture is one of the wild living dogs in town. He followed me all day through the hills, but made no problems.

New monastery west
      of Tagong

The new temple west of Tagong with fields of payer flags. The black pig was roaming the area. You may follow aong the ridge of the mountain. From the highest peak, about 4070m, you will see another village, about 5 km northwest of Tagong and you may walk towards there, passing grazing yaks and horses on your way.

Tagong arial view
      from west

Tagong seen from the top of the hill west of the city. The hill is about at 3950m altitude, the town 3800m. Prayer flags are hung across the valley from this hill to the hillside on the east side of town. The large ancient monastery in the middle of the picture. Dead people (monks?) are buried to the left of the monastery, and the gangway along its outer edge is fitted with prayer mills. Pedestrians may use a small bridge over the river to the right outside the picture. A street bridge is about 300m further downriver to the right. The monastery on the upper right is the place to rent horses if you want a day ride on the grasslands.

Tibetan house

This is a tibetan house in the village in a side valley about 5 km northwest of Tagong. Yak-dung is fixed on the wall for drying, to be used for fire. You reach this viallge by walking over the hills, or along a dirt road west of the river passing Tagong.

Temple west of
      Tagong

The inner court of the temple just west of Tagong with lots of flags during a festival.

A tibetan house
      door

A front door of a tibetan house near Tagong. Many doors and windows in this area have wonderful paintings and carvings.