In a marital union that had great implications for history, Princess Wensheng married King Songtsen Gompo to unite the Tang Dynasty with the Tibetan Kingdom. As Princess Wensheng traveled to meet her newly arranged husband she journeyed for 3 years over some of the harshest terrain in the world, facing great snow storms and stretches of high, waterless desert along the way. Between the years of 641 and 644, Wensheng traveled from Xi’an to Lhasa with a caravan of 100 people and 100 pack animals. One of her stopping points, just after the famous Sun Moon Mountain, was here at TangBo Monastery. Although this is today a small monastery with only 5-6 resident monks, the historical importance of this place can not be over estimated as a trade route along Wensheng’s path to meet her betrothed. In fact, the name “Tangbo” actually refers to the union of the Tang Dynasty and the Bo Kingdom (today’s word for Tibet actually derives from this same word “Bo”).
When Princess Wensheng reached the current spot of Tangbo Monastery, she must have been in awe as she turned the corner over the hill and saw the bright turquoise waters of what is today China’s largest salt lake, Qinghai Lake, gleaming in the distance. The lake is not only magnificent in it’s size but due to it’s high altitude at 3,250 meters above sea level, the sky here is a radical blue and that color often reflects brilliantly off the shores of Qinghai Lake.
You can still faintly see the outline of the old trading route carved in the hill just above Tangbo Monastery and it is thought it was this dirt road that was the main route of travel for Princess Wensheng and her party of intrepid travelers. Even today, Tangbo Monastery provides one of the first and the best views of this enormous 120km long lake. This is a fantastic place to stop for about 30-60 minutes on the 2.5 hour drive from Qinghai Lake. The monastery sees very few tourists and, from it’s high hilltop vantage point, offers one of the best viewpoints of the eastern edge of Qinghai Lake. On sunny days, you can see rugged 4,500 meter high mountain tops looming in the distance around Qinghai Lake.
This is a great place for history buffs and anyone looking for a bit of adventure on their journey to see Qinghai Lake.