Cross China Road Trip 07: Gansu Province, Xiahe. Circumambulation via Prayer Wheels on the Kora Path

Updated with link to new video on YouTube: Max China. Find below and enjoy.

‘To walk or go about or around, especially ceremoniously’

Built in 1709, Labrang is one of the most important monasteries outside of Tibet – click to enlarge

Xiahe is a Tibetan town in Southern Gansu where pilgrims converge from afar to do the Kora/Pilgrim Path. As part of the surrounding wall, this is a three kilometer clockwise journey of the most colourful prayer wheels that go the entire distance around the old town and Labrang Monastery.


click to enlarge

This warren of small white buildings is home to more than a thousand monks studying at the Labrang Monastery. I admit to giving in after only half an hour when my right arm just couldn’t take it anymore. However people were still striding past, spinning with an energy and mumbling prayers that would no doubt take them all the way. Just when you thought you were done, at regular intervals there are many other temples and also buildings with larger prayer wheels requiring a bit more elbow grease to get them going.

click to enlarge

People also walk around the town in the same clockwise direction, the path taking them high up round the back of the buildings to an amazing view. They regularly stop to kneel touching the walls with their forehead facing towards the temple as a sign of respect.




img_4887I admit I’d forgotten the devotion that Tibetans place into Buddhism. Even the elderly who walk hindered by age using a stick to help them with their mobility will take the Kora. One woman shuffles forward on her belly with wooden blocks under her hands and knees then sits upright to say a prayer every few meters.

Its going to take her days to get the whole way around.

36 replies

    • Hiya Bruce > Yes well I went there in 2005 but would love to go back and see how things have changed in the last few years. You cant beat Tibetan anything. How’s things for you mate?


      • Andy this is my clip of my short aussy desert trip
        Home now but today working on my old Toyota flat deck 70 series cruiser – preparing for some adventures this year.
        The Toyota tows our caravan ( 5 th wheel )

        Looks like you are having a great trip

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sounds like a great way to spend Christmas mate > I did do some videos but my windscreen is continually covered in insect road kills so I’m holding back on putting anything up


      • I lost 1000 miles of vid on the trip. Turned out its a common thing with my camcorder grrrrrr > Its a new one on me also but adds to the whole thing I guess.


  1. Did all the prayer wheels have the exact same design? Very unique and interesting, that is for sure. How many weeks do you have left in this trip around China? It is just fascinating – so different from any place I have ever seen.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeeey Ev > How are you and how are your travels? How is the RV? I really need to visit my WP neighbours. I think they were the same down one line of wheels but if there was another row made at a different time the prayers may not have been the same. Yes, just an incredible place 🙂 I miss it already.


    • Well hand on heart I just didnt have the kind of trip that I expected to have in order to write a book. Because it was against the clock I realised that two months wasnt enough to get the whole trip done. Even though I cut a few targets off it still became like a race. In the end I became exhausted and had a couple of minor breakdowns. I guess I’m used to meeting people and spending long amounts of time in places and soaking up the environment like in Just Turn Left. This never happened on the trip. It was an amazing drive, truly amazing but honestly I dont know how I’d write it. I must say I’m disappointed as I’d already spent months writing the first 4 introductory chapters. I normally keep a detailed diary but couldnt do it as I was so tired and broken down. If you have any suggestions then let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow…thanks letting me know about the stressful trip & your tired & broken down mental state. I’d say go with what you can remember using an outline, like a road map of your route! You do have photos to work off. What were your thoughts in those different places. Don’t give up on that book! I’m going to send you an e-mail @ your address with more comments. Have a restful weekend! 💛 Christine ((Elizabeth)

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s awesome Christine. Honestly I’d written it off but really happy to open the possibility back up. I’m used to writing about people and as my feet hardly touched the ground that didnt happenm especially in the latter stages of the trip. I think the first two weeks were book worthy in my normal style but after that it was driving driving driving admittedly to some amazing places. Really look forward to your suggestions. Super appreciated – ha ha – Back to work today


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