Youning Si (to go or not to go?)

Last year we visited the Monastery of Youning Si in the Huzhu Tu Autonomous Region of Qinghai near Xining. The Monastery is famous not only for its beautiful setting, but also because the monks are descendants from the Mongols and continue to speak an old Mongolian dialect.

They are known as the Tu minority. We visited Youning Si by taking a bus to the town of Ping’an and then hiring a taxi the rest of the way. We never saw a check point or a police patrol during our entire visit.

However, we have had a few comments on our previously posted article saying the area is actually closed to foreigners and that any traveller found visiting without a permit, or without an authorised group, runs the risk of being punished or fined. The most recent comment came Continue reading “Youning Si (to go or not to go?)”

Youning Si 佑宁寺 – (Qinghai Province)

Tucked away in a steeply forested valley, Youning Si (Rgolung in Tibetan), a monastery belonging to the Gelugpa order (or the Yellow Hat Sect), is a fantastic hidden gem and makes for a great day trip from Xining. The setting is gorgeous: a couple of large, colourful monasteries that line the road up the valley mark the beginning of the pilgrims’ trail. From here, gaggles of pilgrims climb up the steep paths, half-smothered by lush vegetation and covered in prayer flags, which skirt the flanks of the mountain and lead to a scattering of small chapels and shrines, perched high on the hillside, their golden roofs gleaming from the distance. On rainy days, such as the day of our visit, the muddy paths can get quite treacherous. Needless to say that the pilgrims, including the frail old grannies and small toddlers, skip along the trails, ignoring the hairy bits. We on the other hand, with our clumsy feet and exaggerated fear of heights, held everybody up as we hesitantly negotiated the steepest parts.

At first sight, Youning Si could easily be mistaken for a typical Tibetan Monastery: the 200 or so shaven- headed monks (there once used to be 7000) wandering around in dark red robes, the temple decoration, the images of the deities, the photos of famous Lamas that adorn the altars, are all just as you would find them in any Tibetan monastery.

And yet, there is something different about Youning Si: the monastery Continue reading “Youning Si 佑宁寺 – (Qinghai Province)”