Mostly inhabited by Tibetans, Yushu (ཡུལ་ཤུལ།) is located in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the southern Qinghai province of China. The town, also referred to as Jyekundo (སྐྱེ་དགུ་མདོ།), Gyêgu, Gyêgudo or Jiegu is a multi-ethnic town with Tibetan nomadic residents and Han Chinese traders. Yushu lies at an elevation of 4,000 meters and has the fountainheads of Asia’s three great rivers – the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, and the Mekong River. The rivers are part of the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve in the region. Besides the Tongtian River Bridge, a stone column inscribed with the reserve’s name was given by the former president, Jiang Zemin.
Jyekundo Dondrubling Monastery
The Jyekundo Monastery is found on a hill overlooking Yushu Town and belongs to the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism. In the past, a Bon Temple was present on the site, but later in 1398, Jyekundo Temple was constructed in its place. It consisted of 16 temples and was home to around 500 monks before the earthquake of 2010 hit the area.
Gyanak Mani Temple
About 6 kilometers east of Jyekundo Town is the Gyanak (Jiana) Mani Stone Field which has an enormous collection of carved prayer stones depicting Buddha sculptures ad mantras. There are over 2 million prayer stones stacked on top of each other spread across a square kilometer and reaching a height of 3 meters. Pilgrims from across the region pay a visit to the temple and make koras of the stone pile.
Temple of Princess Wencheng
Located 20 kilometers south outside of Yushu Town, the temple honors Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty when she was on her way to Lhasa in the 7th century. Every Tibetan New Year, devotees visit the temple and perform a kora. The area surrounding the temple consists of thousands of prayer flags and offers picturesque views of the grasslands below and snowy mountains far away.
Qinghai Yushu Horse Racing Festival
Every year on 25th July, a Horse Racing Festival is held in the grasslands of the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the Qinghai Province for sturdy Khampas to display their sportsmanship. The Yushu Horse Racing Festival is attended by Tibetan nomads across the Kham region, who set up tents for the week-long festivities. The warm weather transforms the valley into lush green spaces ideal for camping and horse racing. Apart from the traditional horse races, there is also folk singing and dancing, Buddhist ceremonies and various other sports and activities as part of the festival. Tibetan herbs and handicrafts are also widely sold during the event. Women dress in their best traditional gowns and ornaments, while monks are seen clad in red robes. The tribal men wear robes with tiger stripes or panther skins.