* Random images of ... Ganden Monastery April 01 2015

Ganden Monastery lies about 50kms outside Lhasa, in Tibet. Founded in 1409, it was heavily bombed by the Red Guards in the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, following China's Cultural Revolution. With a stunning view over the surrounding valley, it's a terrific place for a day-trip from Lhasa, whilst you acclimatise to the altitude. Tibet at-large is worlds-apart from Western society (which is why you'd see it ..), & a walk-thru the Chapels takes the comparison to another place entirely. Visitors have often just arrived the previous evening in Lhasa, off the Train across the Tibetan Plateau (another mind-widening experience !).

Ganden is a big Monastery, with numerous Chapels, in various stages of rebuild. There are about 200 monks working there now, after having about 2,000 at the time of the 1959 Uprising.  The displays within the Chapels are spectacular, demonstrating the reverence the Tibetans have for their Buddhist faith. The rooms within the Chapels are packed with artifacts, as well as the beautiful banked displays of Yak-Butter Candles, fluttering away. The smell is of incense & an earthy mix of burning Yak Butter, wax & dust, which under-emphasises the impressive nature of what you're seeing, as well as the obvious wealth in the room. 1-Yuan notes are stuffed in every crevice as offerings, & White & Gold silk scarves are twisted around all the Goblets & Bells. The background hum of Tibetan Monks chanting may well have been taped (I don't recall seeing them performing here - that's impressive ..!). It's fair to make the point, here. The Monks are oppressed; struggling under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese superpower situated right-next-door. Everything in Tibetan life is a struggle; particularly the existence of the Monks & the Monasteries.  Dissent is dealt with in the traditions of old-world China - harshly.

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* Random images of ... the Gyantse Kumbum December 16 2014

Gyantse lies a couple of days by car, west of Lhasa, in Tibet. In a country where every pass is at least 5,000 metres high, & you cross 2 or 3 in each day's travel, that couple of days assumes a new meaning. Travel in Tibet is always spectacular, & if you've branched off the main road, very bumpy & very slow. The main centres are remote from each other, separated by rugged, empty country & lots of dust; so it comes as a surprise to find something as stunning as the Gyantse Kumbum. The Kumbum is the largest Chorten in Tibet, & is a spectacular building, by any measure. Commissioned in the early 14th century, it's a 6-story building, given over to worshipping Tibetan Buddhism. It's 6 levels house many galleries of smallish size, & contain murals & statue-like creations of religious significance.  


 The displays seem kitchsy by Western standards, & dust is ever-present throughout the Kumbum's galleries, as it is throughout Tibet. But you'd never question a Tibetan pilgrim's devotion to their religious artifacts. 


 Tibetan Buuddhist pilgrims tour the many galleries, wide-eyed in fervent passion as they act out a dream they've probably been planning all their lives. 

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* My 1st Portraiture shoot - a young Tibetan Pilgrim, at Ganden Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet. December 03 2014

I was wandering through my Hard Drive just now, reminiscing. I thought you'd be interested in my 1st Portraiture shoot. Whilst Trekking in Tibet in early 2009, our group visited Ganden Monastery, outside Lhasa. The whole experience was everything you could hope for in a day in Tibet, including this young Tibetan pilgrim asking to be shot with the monastery as a back-drop. I happily agreed, & shot half a dozen frames. She gave me her email address, & I sent her the jpegs when I arrived back in Oz. She was thrilled. I got the feeling she was on her own journey of discovery.


At that point, I'd decided to have a little Photography business as my semi-retirement activity (obsession !), after over-hearing a conversation between 2 Photographers the previous night. One of those pivotal times in your life...


The whole Trek (Nepal, Dubai, China, Tibet) was shot in jpeg. Might have to go back, & re-shoot ...!

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