Qinhai province, was once a
major stop on the Silk Road's southern route. Today it is
one of the poorest provincial capitals in China, and has few
sites of real interest to offer a tourist in the city
itself. Yet some worthwhile excursions begin there.
Ta'er Temple, also known as the "Pagoda Lamasery," is one of
China's largest Buddhist temples, and a sacred place of the
"Yellow Sect of Tibetan Lamaism." Located in Lushaer, to the
southwest of Xining, the temple is still used for worship by
"Yellow Sect" believers.
Lamaism took root in Tibet in the seventh century as a new
form of Buddhism. Over the centuries that followed, numerous
sects developed. In the 15th century, a well-known Lama
called Zongkaba founded a new reformed sect, which strictly
observed Buddhist precepts. His followers were easily
identified by their hats, hence the derivation of the name
"Yellow (Hat) Sect." Their influence grew to such an extent
that they eventually became the ruling sect in Tibet. They
were also granted the patronage of the Ming and Qing courts,
who built a grand "Yellow Sect" lamasery called "Yong He
Palace" in Beijing.
Since Zhongkaba was born in Lushaer, numerous pagodas were
built there to commemorate him. In 1560, a small lamasery
was built around the pagodas. The lamasery was expanded over
the centuries into a magnificent lamasery, which ranks
closely in importance with the Dazhao Lamasery in Lhasa.
There are many prayer halls, pagodas and priceless works of
art such as sutras, porcelain from the 13th century,
collections of embossed embroideries, carpets and superb