Brief History of Tibet

Tibetan history can be traced back thousands of years. However, the written history only dates back to the 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to create a Tibetan script based on Sanskrit.

Tibet’s history can be roughly divided into four periods:

  • The Tsanpo Period

    This period starts from Nyatri Tsanpo, the first Tibetan King, in 127 B.C. and ends in 842 A.D. at the death of Langdharma, the last of the Kings. The line ended when Langdharma was assassinated by a Buddhist monk, due to Lang Dharma’s ruthless persecution of Buddhism. During this period 42 Tsanpos ruled over Tibet, the most famous and revered being Songtsan Gampo. The 33rd King, Songtsan Gampo was an outstanding ruler who unified Tibet, moved the capital to Lhasa, ordered a Tibetan script to be created, married Princess Wencheng of the Tang Court and Pricess Bhrikuti Debi of Nepal, built the Potala Palace and the Jokhang temple.

  • The Period of Decentralisation

    This period began in 842 A.D. and ended in about 1260 A.D. when Pagpa, the Abbot of Sakya monastery, became a vassal of Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. During this period little is known in history except that Tibet became decentralized into a number of petty principalities.

  • The Period of Sakya, and Karmapa Rule

    This period opened with the Sakya rule over Tibet, initiated by Pagpa with the help of the Yuan Dynasty. This was then followed by the Karmapa’s rule in the Tsang region of central Tibet. This period lasted from 1260 A.D. to 1642 A.D., during which religio-political powers in central Tibet became dominant as the rulers of the country.

  • The period of the Gandan Podrang’s Administration :

    This is the period in which the Dalai Lama ruled Tibet. It started in 1642 A.D. when the 5th Dalai Lama overtook power from the Tsang ruler. It came to an abrupt end in 1951 when Tibet was incorporated into the modern-day People’s Republic of China. In 1959 the People’s Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region was created, which remains today.

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