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[Travel Along the Ancient Tea Horse Path] Changdu
2005-08-12 09:57:45
"Chamdo" and "the Khamba people and their culture"...

An Important Pass in Eastern Tibet

In Tibetan, Changdu means the place where the rivers meet. The Zhaqu and Angqu Rivers join here, creating the headstream of the Lancang Jiang River.  It used to be an important pass in Eastern Tibet. After Songtsan Gampo unified Tibet in the 7th century, Changdu belonged to the Tufan Tibetan regime in ancient China. During the Qing Dynasty, the county of Changdu was renamed Chamdo (many Western maps and guide books still use this name).
With a complicated geomorphologic structure, different topographies, climate types and horticultural environments, the average annual sunshine is 2,100-2,700 hours, and the non-frost period ranges from 46 to 162 days. There are four seasons on the mountain and the weather differs in its 5000-meters area. Historical records in Tibetan show that there are 25 holy mountains in the Kham area, most of which are located in Changdu.


Changdu is an important pass along the Tea Horse Path. It's also a gateway to Tibet. Traders from Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai often pass through here on their way to conduct business in Tibet. Nowadays, the transportation in Changdu is more convenient. Visitors can take a bus from Lhasa or Chengdu. It takes about 5 days to get here. Visitors can see some culturally important scenic spots and get a feel for the mystique of Tibetan Buddhism.

Drinking Tea in Changdu

The tea served in Changdu shows the influence of Tibetan customs. Most locals here drink the concoction. Visitors can enjoy genuine Tibetan-style buttered tea. The tealeaves are native to Tibet. Tibetan buttered tea is prepared by mixing butter and salt with the juice from fully boiled fermented tealeaves. Before serving, the mixture has to be further blended using a special device. More often than not, a slim wooden cylinder is used for the blending. After the mixture is put in the cylinder, a piston is used to churn the ingredients inside the cylinder. With the passing of the mixture through the slit between the piston and the cylinder, the mixture of butter, salt and tea is forcefully and thoroughly blended. Tibetans like to serve buttered tea in small or large thermos bottles, as the tea is much better when served hot.


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