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Gannan-- Place to Purify Your Soul


Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (gān nán zàng zú zì zhì zhōu 甘南藏族自治州) is an autonomous prefecture in southern Gansu Province, China. It is situated in the southwest of Gansu Province (gān sù shěng 甘肃省), neighboring Dingxi (dìng xī 定西) and Longnan (lǒng nán 陇南) in the east and Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture (lín xià huí zú zì zhì zhōu 临夏回族自治州) in the north. It is also bounded on the south by Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture (ā bà zàng zú qiāng zú zì zhì zhōu 阿坝藏族羌族自治州) of Sichuan Province (sì chuān shěng 四川省) in the neighborhood of Guoluo (guǒ luò zhōu 果洛州), and Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefectures of Qinghai Province (qīng hǎi huáng nán zhōu 青海黄南州) in the west. 


GannanGannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture covers an area of 138,100 square kilometers, with a total population of 730,000. It is inhabited by several ethnic groups but the majority are Tibetans. Gannan was called Little Tibet, but it is far more easily accessible. It includes Xiahe (xià hé 夏河), Luqu (lù qǔ 碌曲), Maqu (mǎ qǔ 玛曲), and other mostly Tibetan towns and villages. The wonderful scenery there are vast expanse of prairie, dense forest, grotesque stone forest and highland lakes. The famous scenic spots include Labrang Monastery (lā bo léng sì 拉卜楞寺), Langmu Monastery (láng mù sì 郎木寺), Gahai-Zecha National Nature Reserve (zhā gǎ nà zì rán bǎo hù qū 扎尕那自然保护区).


GannanBefore the Qin State in the Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) partly governed this area, Gannan was the domain of the ancient Qiang (later Tibetan) people, being one of the main birthplaces and residential areas of the Qiangs. It was in the year of 111AD that the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) brought Gannan into the feudal regime of Central China. Gannan has played an important role in proving the relationship between the Han and the Tibetan. The south of the Silk Road and the Tang-Tibet Ancient Road all passed through the Gannan region. In 1954, the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was established with Hezuo City as its capital.

Geographic Features and Climate

GannanThe prefecture lies in the northeast fringe of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at the transition area to the Loess Plateau. The terrain slopes from the northwest to the southeast.
It can be divided into three parts: the southern mountainous region with moderate climate, being an important forest zone in Gansu; the eastern hilly area and the eastern meadows and grassland, being the main pasturing area of the province.

Rising more than 3,000 meters above sea level, Gannan is dominated by mountains and highland pastures with a cold yet humid climate. In addition, it is in the temperate zone, the temperature between the four seasons is with an annual temperature of 1.7'C and an annual rainfall of 400-800 mm, it is one of the most raininess places in Gansu.


Labrang Monastery (lā bo léng sì 拉卜楞寺)

Located some 280 kilometers south Lanzhou, the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe is one of the six major monasteries belonging to the Gelugpa Sect or the Yellow Sect of Tibet, Buddhism. Erected in 1709, it has structures built in Tibetan and Chinese palace styles as well structures incorporating elements of both. All the walls of its temple halls are covered with murals depicting Buddhist stories.

The monastery is not only a religious center for Tibetans but also the largest institute higher learning of Tibetan Buddhism. It boast a collection of more than 60,000 Buddah scriptures, the largest collection of its kind found among Buddhist temples in China. In addition also contains a larger number of books on Tibetan grammar, history, medicine, mathematics, calendar, music, and arts and more than 70,0 wood blocks carved with Buddhist scriptures.
The monastery has a great number of Buddhist statues. The tallest one stands at 12 meters and is housed in the Shou'an Temple of the monastery. In its Red Palace are 262 gilded bronze Buddhist statues. They are all 1.7 meters high and rank among the best of their kind in China. Buddhist statues less than 1.7 meters in height number more than 29,000. Murals, embossed embroideries, and Tibetan thangkas (religious scrolls) are numerous.

Location: Xiahe County in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, which is 280 kilometers south of Lanzhou
Tel: 0941-8225353
Opening Hours: 8:00~18:00
Transportation: There are shuttle buses between Lanzhou and Xiahe
Admission Fee: CNY40
Best Time to Go: September to December
Recommended Visit Time: 2 hours

Langmu Monastery (láng mù sì 郎木寺)
GannanSome 90 kilometers south of the county seat of Luqu is the town of Langmu Monastery. It is located at the northern foot of an extension of the Xiqing Mountains on the bank of the Bailong (White Dragon) River on the Gansu-Sichuan border. Langmusi basically comprises a group of Tibetan monasteries around a valley, which are collectively known as the Langmu Monastery. Langmu means "fairy" in Tibetan. The monastery was so named because inside the cave is rock bearing he resemblance of a beautiful young lady, which was believed to be the transformation of a fairy. The monastery faces the Gerdi Monastery across the river. It was a thriving monastery until 1969 when it was destroyed. Langmu Monastery consists of two Buddhist architecture groups separated by a brook with the north one belonging to Gansu and the south belonging to Sichuan. It was first discovered by some foreign backpackers and has become a well-known assembly area for backpackers.

The Labrang Monastery holds seven large-scale summon ceremonies a year, among which the Summons Ceremony in the first lunar month and the Buddhist Doctrine Explaining Ritual in the seventh lunar month are the grandest ones.

Location: 90 kilometers south of the Luqu county in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Tel: 0941-6671014
Opening Hours: The whole day
Transportation: There are shuttle buses in Lanzhou and Xiahe
Admission Fee: CNY30 (Free in Winter)
Best Time to Go: May to September
Recommended Visit Time: 4 hours
Tips: If you go to the Labrang Monastery in winter, rich Buddhism activities will not be missed, even though the cold weather

Gahai-Zecha National Nature Reserve (zhā gǎ nà zì rán bǎo hù qū 扎尕那自然保护区)
Gahai-Zecha National Nature Reserve mainly consists of two scenic spots, the Zecha Stone Forest and the Gaihai Migrant Nature Reserve. The former has lifelike stones and the latter is an ideal summer resort with the Gahai Grassland being one of the finest in Asia.

GannanIn Gansu Gahai-zecha National Nature Reserve, a large group of swans are chasing and finding food, which makes this area lively again. In recent years, states and local government enhanced the protection of this area. They implement the wetland-restoring project and Initiate environmental protection propaganda, hence, the number of swans wintering here has increased each year.

Location: Yiwa Village in Diebu County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Opening Hours: The whole day
Transportation: There are shuttle buses in Lanzhou and Xiahe
Admission Fee: Free
Recommended Visit Time: 3 hours

Sangke Prairie (gé sāng huā cǎo yuán 格桑花草原)
GannanSangke Prairie lies about ten kilometers west of Xiahe County, Gansu province. It bordered by the Daxia River and is famous for its excellent pasture and frequent magnificent Buddhist ceremonies. Sangke prairie is at an elevation of 3000 meters (9843 feet) with an area of 70 square kilometers (27 square miles).

Lush green grass and colorful flowers form a natural carpet covering this expansive area. The Daxia River flows through grass and earth quietly reflecting sky and mountains. Groups of sheep and yaks plus white tents form a beautiful picture. Visitors can travel by bicycle or on horseback. It is possible to stay overnight with a local family or to rent a tent and taste Tibetan food such as yak-butter tea and mutton.

Location: 10 kilometers west of Xiahe County and 7 kilometers to Labrang Monastery, Gansu province.
Tel: 0941-8225353
Opening Hours: 8:00-17:30
Transportation: There are shuttle buses in Lanzhou and Xiahe
Admission Fee: CNY25
Recommended Visit Time: 1 day
Best Time to Visit: July (Flowers are in blossom)
Tips: Sangke Prairie is one of the most important stockbreeding bases in Gannan. There are two reception centers equipped with Tibetan tents. Every July to September, they will prepare dainty food with Tibetan flavor as well as yaks, horses and bonfires to welcome the visitors.

Speciality Foods

milk tea (nǎi chá 奶茶)
GannanPoured into water in the teapot, put in tea, big tea cooked on the stove burning, until the time of boiling tea, tea fragrance emitting again when poured into milk, some people also add a little ginger or green salt, when boiledoverflow teapot tea when you can drink. Milk into the bowl,the color white seeped yellow, the taste is neither a pure milk flavor, tea flavor is not, tea and milk mixed together, drink together, delicious fragrance.

Tsampa (zān bā 糌粑)
GannanTsampa is the most common Tibetan food, it is easy to carry, food method is simple, pastoral people in the pilgrimage, grazing, hunting, home, travel, all with roasted barley for food. For roasted barley flour, the butter first, Triton, milk or sugar water to reconcile, then fried noodles (the barley fried, then ground into flour) into the hand shape into cake-like mix can be eaten. Of course, go out, there is no luxury, and can only eat with fried noodles add cold water.

Gannan Morel  (gān nán jùn má 甘南菌麻)
GannanMorel mushrooms are ascus classes, sclerotiorum head, whip bacteria Branch, Yang Du is. Also known as "Yang Du mushroom" because the body is named as Yang Du. Mainly in complex terrain, cold and humid climate, lush vegetation growth, the growth of Gannan grassland suitable for Morel.
Gannan Morel spherical, oval or conical, surface relief into a honeycomb, with the handle attached to the edge. Handle with yellow, white, light brown cap. Morel delicious, since ancient times been classified as "grass eight treasures" to become one of nutritious table delicacy. Morel is also attending indigestion, phlegm, shortness of breath panacea.

Travel Tips


the only way to arrive or to leave Gannan is take bus because there is no airport and railway station in Gannan, The bus station is located in Xiyi Road of Hezuo City (hé zuò shì xī yī lù 合作市西一路).
Language in Gannan:  Because there are about 1/2 inhabitance were Tibetan, Tibetan Language and Chinese were the main language used in Gannan.
Best Time to Go: June to August is the best time to visit Gannan. The temperature in this period maintains a level of 15 C-30 C (59 F-86 F). The grassland scenery is at its best at this time. In winter, monasteries, no matter whether they are big or small, hold Buddhist ceremonies during the period from the eighth to the sixteenth day of the first lunar month. This is the busiest period in Gannan. 
Local Highlights: Xiangbala Tourism Arts Festival, held annually in midsummer, is the largest comprehensive tourism festival in Gannan Prefecture. During the fifth and the sixth lunar months, there are various festivals and ceremonies, such as Xianglang Festival, Erecting Arrow Festival and Caihua (Flower Picking) Festival.


Last Updated on Friday, 20 July 2012 17:07

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