When it was inaccessible, the country was considered a wondrous place of myth, conjecture and untold depth, the kind of place whose secrets would forever be protected by a supernatural evanescence. Although revelation of the countryÃ¢??s at times brutal history and reality hampered these flights of the imagination to an extent, there remains in the minds of many an irrepressible sense of mystery and spiritual profundity concerning Tibet.
Tibet's topography only enhances the impression that the land as more than just another country. Commonly referred to as The Rooftop of the World, Tibet stands on the Tibetan Plateau, and, with an average elevation close to 5,000 metres, the Plateau is the highest region in the world. Its lofty location reinforces the idea of Tibet's symbolic ascendancy over all other nations; that it is the country closest to the heavens, that it was designed to remain an isolated secret, and that natureÃ¢??s grandest and most formidable defences the Himalayas are employed to encircle it for protection. Regardless of symbolic interpretation, its location also means that Tibet is the ultimate hiker or mountaineer tour destination and promises vistas from the snow-capped gargantuan peaks that are beyond compare.
After the past Chinese occupation of Tibet, many of the country's historic monuments and structures were destroyed in a concerted effort to establish a unified Chinese culture in the country. Nevertheless, this policy later was rejected and Chinese authorities instead took to helping restore Tibetan cultural artefacts and buildings. As a result, those touring Tibet are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to view spectacular sights such as the grand Potala Palace, which was once home to the Dalai Lamas, and Norblingka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas and which dates from the mid-1700s.