The warm sunlight on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau was shining on the dark face of herdsman Qiuiyong Basong. The passenger cars of the Tibet-bound train running on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway were also hung with thangkas and covered with Tibetan-style carpets.
His children were playing in front of him and his mother was spinning her prayer wheel as usual.
"They are all my family members and we have 14 in all," said Qiuyong Basong, pointing at a couple of seats next to him. "That is my father Duoge and he is 73 years old. That is my youngest son Cairang, 12."
"The clean passenger car is just like my home. We are served with genuine butter tea and tsampa," said Qiuyong Basong.
Qiuyong Basong and his family live in Qumalai Town, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwestern Qinghai Province. Ever since the railway began operation in 2006, many of the herdsmen he knows have been to Lhasa to worship Tibetan Buddhas by train.
Eearlier this year, Qiuyong Basong and his family joined the pilgrims to Lhasa.
Though his home is several hundred km away from Xining, the departure of the train, they still prefer to take the train to buses.
According to Liu Peng, conductor of the train, the number of passengers from the Tibetan-inhabited areas in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces to pay pilgrimage to Buddas in Tibet have been on the rise since the railway began operation. And they have become the most stable passenger flow on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as they are not restricted by seasons.
"In winter time most of the passengers are pilgrims and 75 percent of the passengers on this train are going to worship Tibetan Buddha."
Major monasteries for Tibetan Buddhism include the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa and the Tashilhunpo Monastery in southwestern Tibet's Xigaze Prefecture. Lhasa is considered the holy place for Tibetan Buddhist believers and since ancient times, Buddhist worshippers have come to the holy city after enduring months even years of hardships.
Tibetan lama Tsering from Yushu has been to Tibet to worship Buddhas for many times. "In the past, we had to ride horses from our monastery to Tibet and the round trip would take two full years. If you had gone there by prostrating your whole body onto the ground, that would have taken at least three years, " said Tsering.
It became much convenient to go to Lhasa by bus and air. Now it takes only 24 hours to go to Tibet by train.
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