Darchen or Tarchen is one of the most important towns in the western Tibet Ngari Prefecture, located at an elevation of 4, 500 meters ( 14, 763 ft) 

The town was named after the Saga Dawa festival's huge prayer flag pole at the Tarboche valley, which is located around 13 km from Darchen. 

Darchen town is located around 1300 km from Lhasa, around 270 km from the Tada Guge Kingdom, around 320 km from the main city of western Tibet Ngari Gar, also known as Sigge Kapap in Tibetan language and Shiquanhe in Chinese, meaning river coming from Lion's mouth. 

Darchen town is the starting point of the kora pilgrim to Mount Kailash. The total duration of the kora trek is 52 km 

Every year on April 15th in the Tibetan Lunar calendar, it is the Saga Dawa festival, on this day a  huge prayer flag pole will be erected at Tarboche to celebrate the Saga Dawa festival. 

Every year during May and June, Travelers will travel to Darchen to witness the beauties of the Saga Dawa festival. 

More information regarding the Saga Dawa festival.

Darchen is one of the most popular towns in the western Tibet Ngari Prefecture.

Mountains located near Darchen

1. Mount Kailash

One of the holiest mountain in our world. Mount Kailash is a pilgrim destination for Hindus, Buddhist, Bon, and Jain followers.

The 52 km spiritual kora trek is one of the best treks in Tibet. 

Mount Kailash is the most desired destination in Tibet.

They are 4 ways to travel to Mount Kailash and Darchen town. 

1. Travel from Lhasa via overland to Darchen town.

2. Travel from Lhasa via a flight to Ngari Gunsa Airport.

3. Travel from Nepal border to Darchen town.

4. Travel from Xinjiang to western Tibet Ngari.

2. Mount Gurla Mandala

The stunning view of Mount Gurla Mandala can be seen on the way to Mount Kailash. 

3. Bonri 

Bonri is the mountain which was formed with the spiritual deeds from Tibetan Yogi Je Milarepa during the 11th century when Je Milarepa and Bon master Naro Bonchung had met near the Mount Kailash. 

Lakes located near Darchen

1. Manasarovar Lake

Located 30 km from Darchen town. Manasarovar Lake is a holy Lake for Hindu, Buddhist, Bon followers. The Lake is surrounded by mountains and monasteries.  

Lake Manasarovar is a great spot for a night after finishing the 52 km trek at Mount Kailash. 

More information regarding Manasarovar Lake.

2. Nag Tso Lake

Also known as Black Lake, located around 10-20 km from Darchen.

The color of the Lake is quite dark. Legend says it was once a Lake of an evil spirit.

3. Pangong Tso Lake

There is one Lake in Tibet Autonomous Region, located in the border between India is known as Pangong Tso Lake.

This Lake is popular for wild birds including Black neck Crane. 

Rivers located near Darchen

1. Singge Kapap river

2. Langchen Kapap river

3. Macha Kapap river

4. Tachok Kapap river

Since western Tibet is the home of mountains so western Tibet is also the home to Lakes and Rivers.

The four above important rivers are translated into English as

1. River coming from Lion's mouth.

2. River coming from Elephant's mouth. 

3. River coming from Peacock's mouth.

4. River coming from Horse mouth. 

Above names are given according to the shape of the source of the rivers. 

Sightseeing monasteries near Darchen

1. Gyangdrak monastery

One of the best day trips from Darchen is Gyangdrak monastery.

From Darchen it is not possible to see the view of the Mount Kailash because of the hill near Darchen so best ways to see the Mount Kailash is doing a day hike to Gyangdrak monastery, which is also the route to inner kora. 

2. Sera Long monastery

Sera Long is another option for a day trip from Darchen town. The view of the Mount Kailash and the valley from Sera long monastery is special. 

Wild donkeys in the western Tibet

3. Dirapuk monastery

Dirapuk monastery is located on the kora trek to the Mount Kailash. It was once a retreat center of many great Yogis.

In the 52 km kora trek around the Mount Kailash, Travelers will stay the first night at the Dirapuk monastery.

They are few guest houses including the monastery guest house. 

4. Zutrulpuk monastery

On the second day of the kora around the Mount Kailash, Travelers will stay a night in the Zutrulpuk monastery. 

Zutrulpuk monastery was once the retreat area of Je Milarepa. Nowadays we can still witness the blessing of the meditation cave with footprints. 

5. Chiu monastery

Also known as bird monastery, located near the Lake Manasarovar. Chiu monastery is the most popular monasteries near the Lake Manasarovar. 

It was once a retreat area of Je Padmasambhava in the 8th century. 

Hotels located near Darchen

1. 3-star Himalaya hotel

2. 2-star Shishapangma hotel 

3. Youth hostel 

In the summer, many of the hotels in Darchen town offers a hot shower with private bathroom.

During the winter because of the cold, it is not possible to have a hot shower.

During the kora trek around the Mount Kailash at Dirapuk and Zutrulpuk, there is no private bathroom and no shower.

More information regarding hotels in western Tibet.

Restaurants located near Darchen 

1. Sams Tibetan restaurant

This small restaurant was open by a friend of mine. His name is Sonam, he was once a Tour Guide in Lhasa.

He and his wife are good at cooking so they chose to open a nice restaurant at Darchen town for the locals and Travelers. 

2. Few other Tibetan and Chinese restaurants 

They are many other local Tibetan and few Chinese restaurants in the Darchen town.

It is quite difficult to have western foods like pizza and steak but it is possible to find different types of Tibetan local foods. 

Hospital located near Darchen

1. Tibetan clinic 

The small Tibetan hospital from the town provides basic medicine and healthcare to locals and Travelers. 

The city and towns located near Darchen

1. Ngari Gar or Singge Kapap city

Ngari Gar is the main city in the western Tibet. Located 320 km from Darchen town towards the west.

2. Purang town

One of the border towns between Nepal Simikot and India is Purang. Located 160 km from Darchen town. 

3. Tada or Tsanda town

Tada is famous for Guge Kingdom ruins and Toling monastery. Tada is also known as Tsaparang in the local Tibetan language. It is the border town between Ladakh. 

4. Menshi town

Around 50 km from Darchin, we will pass by Menshi town, which is the lunch break town between Tada, Gar city, Tadapuri hot spring, and Shangshung valley.

5. Hor Qu town

Hor Qu is the nearest towns from the Lake Manasarovar. This is the entrance ticket town of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. 

Airport located near Darchen

1. Ngari Gunsa Airport 

The one and only airport in western Tibet is Gunsa airport. Located about 55 km from the Ngari Gar city and around 270 km from the Darchen town.


Darchen is a very important town in Tibet. The reason behind is the beauties of western Tibet including highlight Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, the Guge Kingdom ruins, the Shangshung Kingdom ruins, Garuda valley, Dungkar, Piyang wall paintings, and stunning landscapes. 

Nowadays the road from Lhasa to Darchen is paved all the way. There is also free wifi in many hotels and restaurants in Darchen town.

Darchen is the town before the Mount Kailash, it is a blessed town with lots of great Yogis have left footprints. 

Tibet Travelers recommend all the Travelers to travel western Tibet, home of the stunning nature and holy Mount Kailash and holy Lake Manasarovar.

Travelers can send us Email regarding traveling to Darchen town, foot of Mount Kailash. info@tibettravelers.com 

Written By :Tenzin

Mar 23, 2018


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