In Lhasa, we often hear people talking about or making a plan to go to the Gephel Utse hiking.
Hiking up to the Gephel Utse for rituals of putting up the prayer flags and burning incense is in the plan of many younger people in Lhasa. We believe performing this ritual will bring good health and prosperity to oneself.
The Hill of Gephel Utse
Gephel Utse is a hill behind the Drepung monastery in Lhasa. It is located in the north-west part of Lhasa city.
The hight of the Gephel utse is 5300 Meters.
I have been planning to embark this adventure for the last few years. Yet, both the festival associate with this hike falls during busiest days of the year for a tour operator in Lhasa, Tibet.
This year due to Covid19 Pandemic, I was free to embark on this hike. So I call my other friend to join me for hiking.
On the eve of Choekhor Dhuchen (A religious festival to commemorate the first sermon of Buddha), we went to the Drepung monastery to see how long will it take for us to reach up to the top.
We ask some monks, how long it takes to them reach the top. They told us it takes 3 hours for young monks and about 8 hours for older monks to reach the top.
As an experienced in hiking in Tibet with almost 50+ time hiking around the mount Kailash. We were confident that I would cover the hike in 4 hours.
The Hiking Day
We left for the Drepung monastery at 5:00 in the morning. As we arrive at the monastery, we start hiking.
We can see dots of touch light showing us the destination of the day as we look upward on the mountain.
The first half of the hiking up to the hermit was a slow yet easy one. We cover it in two hours.
Usually, People would stay here for a night before heading up to the top. The only refill station for the drinking water is available at the hermit.
Here we had our breakfast. We got Tibetan Black tea and hot water from the monks.
The second half of the hike is very challenging. Here the section of path is steep and rocky, making it challenging to climb. This climb is the physical and test to once determination itself.
Once when we arrive at the top ridgeline. We can find signs of incense burning and prayer flags posted by all the people before us.
We choose to walk a little bit down to Lhasa Utse to offer incense and put up half of the prayer flags we were carrying.
Now the final leap of the hike is slow and steady uphill to the top of the hill. From the ridgeline, we could see both side of the mountain, Kyichu river valley on the south and Nyarey valley on the north.
In Nyarey valley we could see the Pabongkha hermit and sky burial place.
In the Lhasa Kyichu Valley, we would see the city of Lhasa on the east. Express highway from the airport on the west.
As we reach on top of the hill, we could find people praying, offering incense, putting up the prayer flags, and throwing the paper prayer flag up in the air.
We had our lunch at the top of the hill with other peoples. At the same time, everyone is extremely busy murmuring their prayers.
On this particular hike, the descent was challenging for me. One reason was I got the wrong shoe.
I had the same problem with that shoe last year when I was hiking around the mount Kailash.
Another reason was we did cover the two days hiking in a day. Yet it was an excellent experience.
When we arrive back to the hermit, the monks offer us butter tea. We had leftover Tibetan Momos.
Conclusion of hiking on Gephel Utse hill in Lhasa
For many years I have been thinking of doing this hike, and I am delight to be able to do it this year. It was a good experience.I am pleased to be able to offer my prayer and put up the prayer flag for the quick recovery of the world from this pandemic.
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