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Himalaya

Day 74: Yushu

Yushu, Tibet 
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Well-preserved chorten at Gyanak Mani. They are symbolic of steps to enlightenment. Always constructed on five levels, with square base representing the earth and the tip of the pinnacle pointing to the heavens.
Michael Palin - HimalayaToday we leave Yushu/Jyekundo, the northernmost point on our journey.

On our way out of town, Duker insists that we stop at Gyanak Mani, believed to be the largest collection of mani stones in Tibet. Mani stones are a prominent feature of any sacred Buddhist site, and this one is particularly blessed, as it's believed that Princess Wengcheng, the Chinese bride of King Songsten Gampo, spent time here, 1400 years ago. Mani stones usually have the mantra 'Om Mani Padme Hum' ('Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus') inscribed on them, but this stone field and accompanying walls are much richer, with some having carvings of gods and whole sections of the sutras (Buddha's sayings) carved on them.

Recently, and controversially, the Chinese authorities moved a lot of the stones to build lavatories, but I'm told there was such an outcry that the ground was reconsecrated after the work was done. This morning a regular stream of pilgrims walks, and in some cases crawls, around the temple, each circumambulation guaranteeing more merit points in the next life.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 74: Yushu
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Yushu
  • Book page no: 174

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