Sterile farmland, a terrible climate and harvest failures - this describes the harsh life that Lhamo Thondup, later being given the title of the Dalai Lama, and his extended family lived in a high plateau village.
His parents worked hard year after year, but their efforts were often ruined by severe hail or drought, the fourteenth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso recalled in his autobiography, which was published in 1991.
He spent four years living in the remote village formerly known as Taktser, which is located on the eastern fringe of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, until he was identified in 1939 as the incarnate of the deceased thirteenth Dalai Lama.
Twenty years later, the Tibetan spiritual leader fled Lhasa, capital of China' s southwest Tibet Autonomous Region, and has been living in exile for more than half a century.
In a speech the 75-year-old old Dalai Lama delivered Thursday in the Indian hill town Dharamsala, he alleged that he will resign his political role and devolve his formal authority to an elected leader.
Renamed "Hongai" , the village is now home to 274 residents, including 44 Tibetan families and 25 Han families. It is administered by Shihuiyao Township in Ping' an County in the northwestern province of Qinghai.
For generations local residents have made a living by growing highland barley and potatoes. Even today, Hongai village is among the most impoverished villages in less-developed Qinghai.
However, profiting from the increasing openness of China's social environment and the country's decade-long efforts to boost development in underdeveloped western regions, many Hongai villagers have left the barren land to seek jobs in different locales.