Lhasa


Lhasa

Location: As the beautiful capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Lhasa is situated in the South Central part of the region, on the North bank of the Kyichu River in a mountain-fringed valley.
Population: 400,000
Area: 30,000 square kilometers (11,583 square miles)
Nationalities: Tibetan
City Flower: Galsang flower
Administrative Division: 2 municipal districts (Chengguan, Tuilong Deqing), 6 counties (Linzhou, Dangxiong, Nimu, Qushui, Dazi, Mozhu  Gongka)

Attractions

 

Potala Palace

In possession of rich cultural heritage, Potala Palace is a must-see place of your Tibet trip

Overview of Potala Palace

Potala Palace, the highest ancient palace in the world, was situated on the Red Hill of central Lhasa, reaching 3,767.19m (12,359.55ft) at the topmost point. As 4A tourism spot on the national level, the Potala Palace is a must-see travel spot for tourists who wanna explore Tibet. With profound Buddhist culture, Potala Palace attracts a large number of pilgrims to pray in this holy place.

The History of Potala Palace

Potala was named after a holy hill in South India which means “Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy) in Sanskrit word.” The Legend of Potala is dating back to the 7th century, the Tang Dynasty (618B.C. – 907B.C.) of China that the then Tibet King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-story palace with a thousand rooms up on the Red Hill for his bride, Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty and named it Potala Palace. The Potala Palace we see today was built in Qing Dynasty. Because the original one is destroyed in the war when the Songtsen Gampo Dynasty declined.

The Structure of Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is a landmark of Lhasa and Tibet, containing two parts, the Red Palace and the White Palace. Located on the southern slope of the Red Hill, the Potala Palace was built along the hill. Potala Palace processes more than 1000 rooms, chanting hall, seminary, temples, diverse chambers for worshipping Buddha and chambers housing the stupas of several Dalai Lamas.

The Red Palace, the center of Potala Palace

The Red Palace, the highest part of the center, was completely painted to red to symbolize stateliness and power. It was devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer and composed of a complicated layout with different halls, chapels, and libraries each layer. In addition, it processes an array of smaller galleries and winding passages. Great West Hall, considered as the largest hall, with beautiful murals painted on its inner walls takes an area of the 725 sq meters (about 7,804 sq ft). There are three chapels around the Great West Hall but only the Dharma Cave and the Saint’s Chapel remain constructions of the 7th century with the statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng, and Princess Bhrikuti inside.

The White Palace, the wring of Potala Palace

The White Palace or Potrang Karpo once served as the office building of Tibet local government was painted to white to convey peace and quiet which was composed of the living quarters of Dalai Lama. The Great East Hall, occupied a space of 717 sq meters (about 7,718 sq ft), was the pot for momentous religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors are served as the living quarters and offices. The seventh floor, the living quarters of Dalai Lama consists of two parts, the East Chamber of Sunshine and the West Chamber of Sunshine.

Travel Tips,

1. Visitors all have to enter from the east main entrance.

2. Taking a coat when visiting Potala Palace; It is a little bit cold inside the Potala Palace.

3. Chakpori Hill is the ideal spot to take pictures of the Potala Palace.

4. The travel time in Potala Palace is limited, no more than 1 hour.

5. Any kind of liquid is restricted.

Barkhor Street

Located in the old city of Lhasa, Barkhor Street is famous for its pilgrim circuit and lively market. With a history of more than 1300 years, the historical site now is the most prosperous shopping street around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Barkhor Street is about 1000 meters in circumference. In the beginning, there was just a pilgrim circuit, after centuries of development, the ancient street has become a large area of old buildings surrounded the Jokhang Temple.
In the 7th century, Songtsen Gampo who was the most powerful king of ancient Tibet gave an order to build the Jokhang Temple, around which four palaces was under construction at the same time. These palaces once Songtsen Gampo and his concubines lived are the oldest buildings in Barkhor Street. After the Jokhang Temple was finished, a great many of pilgrims came and gradually trod a path around the temple. This is the embryonic form of Barkhor Street. About 18  family-owned buildings which provided board and lodging to pilgrims and traders were set up later around the Jokhang Temple. The old street had gradually stepped into a new stage.
The Jokhang Temple had become the center of Buddhism in Lhasa from the 15th century. Many Buddhists moved there for their beliefs. As a result, numerous of Buddhist buildings such as dorms for monks, religious schools, and small temples were founded beside the Jokhang Temple. Also, a large number of folk houses, shops, hotels and hand workshops had been opened up to the visitors. With the rise of the states in Buddhism, The Jokhang Temple became more and more important to Buddhists, many of which held that pilgrims should move around the holy temple in clockwise to pay respects to the golden statue of Sakyamuni inside the monastery. In the following centuries, many traders and pilgrims from Mongolia, Mainland China, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, India came and settled there. Today Barkhor Street has been a combination of religion, sightseeing, culture, business, and shopping.
Barkhor Street preserve the original style of the old city of Lhasa. The road of the street is paved with stones polished by hand. The old buildings at the two sides of the road are well kept. There is a large censer which is cloaked in incense day and night in the center of the street. More than 120 shops of handicrafts and 200 stalls which sell more than 8000 kinds of local specialties are located there. You can find the most representative things in Tibet like the figure of Buddha, prayer wheel, Tibetan knife, highland barley wine, and Thangka. Besides, some goods from India, Nepal, Burma, and Kashmir could also be found there.
A sight not to be missed in Barkhor Street is makye ame which is a two-layer building once the sixth Dalai Lama lived. According to legend, this talented romantic poet walked all over Tibet to search for the Supreme Tara. One day, he was sitting in a bistro when a beautiful maid opened the curtain of the bistro to look inside, this is the beginning of the moving love story of the legend.
Barkhor Street is an epitome of Tibet from ancient time. As one of the most distinctive and attractive blocks in China, the old place is more and more popular for worldwide travelers.
Jokhang Temple

The temple, considered the “spiritual heart of the city” and the most sacred in Tibet, is at the center of an ancient network of Buddhist temples in Lhasa. It is the focal point of commercial activity in the city, with a maze of streets radiating from it. The Jokhang is 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) east of the Potala Palace.Barkhor, the market square in central Lhasa, has a walkway for pilgrims to walk around the temple (which takes about 20 minutes).Barkhor Square is marked by four stone sankang (incense burners), two of which are in front of the temple and two in the rear.

Rasa Thrulnag Tsuklakang (“House of Mysteries” or “House of Religious Science”) was the Jokhang’s ancient name. When King Songtsen built the temple his capital city was known as Rasa (“Goats”), since goats were used to move earth during its construction. After the king’s death, Rasa became known as Lhasa (Place of the Gods); the temple was called Jokhang—”Temple of the Lord”—derived from Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha, its primary image. The Jokhnag’s Chinese name is Dazhao;it is also known as Zuglagkang, Qoikang Monastery and Tsuglhakhange.

Estimated dates for Jokhang Temple’s founding range from 639 to 647 AD. Construction was initiated by King Songtsen Gampo to house an image of Mikyoba (Akshobhya) brough to Tibet as part of the dowry of his Nepali wife Princess Bhrikuti. Ramoche Temple was constructed at the same time to house another Buddha image, Jowo Sakyamuni, brought to Tibet by his Chinese wife Prince Wencheng. It is thought that after the death of Songtsen Gampo, Jowo Sakyamuni was moved from Ramoche Temple for its protection and hidden in Jokhang Temple by Princess Wencheng. The image has remained in Jokhang Temple ever since, and it’s the most revered Buddha image in all of Tibet.

Over the centuries, Jokhang Temple has undergone many renovations, but the basic layout is ancient and differs from that of many other Tibetan religious structures. One crucial difference is the building’s east-west orientation, said to face towards Nepal to honour Princess Bhrikuti. A few interior carved pillars and entrance arches remain from the original 7th-century work of Newari artisans brought from the Kathmanddu Valley in Nepal to work on the construction.

 

Sera Monastery

Sera Monastery is one of the “great three” Gelug university monasteries of Tibet, located 1.25 miles (2.01 km) north of Lhasa and about 5 km (3.1 mi) north of the Jokhang. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The origin of its name is attributed to a fact that the site where the monastery was built was surrounded by wild roses in bloom.

The original Sera Monastery is responsible for some 19 hermitages, including four nunneries, which are all located in the foot hills north of Lhasa.

The Sera Monastery, as a complex of structures with the Great Assembly Hall and three colleges, was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Chojey of Sakya Yeshe of Zel Gungtang (1355–1435), a disciple of Je Tsongkhapa.

 

During the 1959 revolt in Lhasa, Sera monastery suffered severe damage, with its colleges destroyed and hundreds of monks killed. After the Dalai Lama took asylum in India, many of the monks of Sera who survived the attack moved to Bylakuppe in Mysore, India. After initial tribulations, they established a parallel Sera Monastery with Sera Me and Sera Je colleges and a Great Assembly Hall on similar lines to the original monastery, with help from the Government of India. There are now 3000 or more monks living in Sera, India and this community has also spread its missionary activities to several countries by establishing Dharma centres, propagating knowledge of Buddhism.

Sera Monastery in Tibet and its counterpart in Mysore, India are noted for their debate sessions.

The original Sera Monastery is a complex of structures founded in 1419 by Jamchen Chojey Sakya Yeshe of Zel Gungtang (1355–1435), a disciple of Je Tsongkhapa. Prior to establishing this monastery, Tsongkhapa, assisted by his disciples, had set up hermitages at higher elevations above Sera Utsé Hermitage.

The Sera complex is divided into two sectors by pathways; the eastern part contains the Great Assembly Hall and the dwellings and the western part has the well-known three colleges: the Sera Je Dratsang, the Sera Me Dratsang; and the Ngakpa Dratsang, all instituted by Tsongkhapa as monastic universities that catered to monks in the age range 8-70. All the structures within this complex formed a clockwise pilgrimage circuit, starting with the colleges (in the order stated), followed by the hall, the dwelling units and finally ending at the hermitage of Tsongkhapa above the Great Assembly Hall.

Over the years, the monastery developed into a hermitage where about 6000 monks resided. The monastery was one of the finest locations in Tibet to witness the debate sessions, which were held according to a fixed schedule.[9] The monastery belongs to the Gelug Order and was one of the largest in Lhasa. In 2008, Sera had 550 monks in residence.

 

Drepung Monastery

 

Drepung Monastery is located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the “great three” Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. The other two are Ganden and Sera.

Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and is located on the Gambo Utse mountain, five kilometers from the western suburb of Lhasa.

Freddie Spencer Chapman reported, after his 1936-37 trip to Tibet, that Drepung was at that time the largest monastery in the world, and housed 7,700 monks, “but sometimes as many as 10,000 monks.

Since the 1950s, Drepung Monastery, along with its peers Ganden and Sera, have lost much of their independence and spiritual credibility in the eyes of Tibetans since they operate under the close watch of the Chinese security services. All three were reestablished in exile in the 1950s in Karnataka state in south India. Drepung and Ganden are in Mundgod and Sera is in Bylakuppe.

The Drepung Monastery houses many cultural relics, which adorn and make it more superb. Statues of Manjushri Bodhisattva, and Sitatapatra found on the first storey of the Coqen Hall, rare sutras on the second storey and Jamyang Qoigyi’s conch shell given by Tsong Khapa on the third one, all add to the wonderment. Exquisite statues of Tsong Khapa, Kwan-yin Bodhisattva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, Amitayus, and Jamyang Qoigyi in other sutra halls, as well as flowery murals on walls also fully present the wisdom of the Tibetan people.

More Attractions

Norbulingka

Chakpori Hill

Ganden Monastery

Lhasa Carpet Factory

Lhasa River

Mentsekhang

Nietang Buddha

Ramoche Monastery

Tibet Museum

Yangpachen

Zaki Temple

Recommended Tour Itineraries

Mysterious Lhasa Package: 4 Days Luxury & Cheap Itinerary
Devout Buddhist Journey: 7 Days of Lhasa – Gyangtse – Shigatse
Tibet Impression: 12 Days Luxury Journey of Beijing – Xian – Lhasa – Shanghai
Lhasa Discovery: 2-day Hiking Route

How to Get to Lhasa

Currently there are three options to reach this mysterious high land, by plane, by road and by train.

  1. Taking plane is comfortable and time saving , but offers little time for you to acclimatise to the altitude; this may cause sickness. Lhasa Gonggar Airport, about 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) south of downtown area, has 40 more flights to/from major domestic cities including Beijing, Chamdo, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dazhou, Diqing, Fuzhou, Golmud, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Hangzhou, Kangding, Kunming, Lanzhou etc.
  2. Taking the bus along one of five highways that have been opened-up for visitors’ use. This will take longer but will enable you to see the amazing scenery en route. Furthermore, taking extra time allows for a more gradual acclimatization to the altitude.
  3. Taking the train, is a fabulous new option, giving the opportunity to see hitherto unseen mountain scenery. With the operation of Tibet Railway from July 1st, 2006, more and more visitors have swarmed into the land via train.

Weather

Generally the period from March to October is the best time to pay a visit. Since the city is located at such a high altitude it is wise to be prepared before starting your journey. Generally speaking, due to the large temperature differences during any given day, warm clothes should be taken to keep away the cold. However, because it also receives a great deal of sunshine, sunglasses, suntan oil, and a sun hat are indispensable items if you’re going anywhere in the area.

Lhasa Travel Tips

  • Local Highlights: It is rightly one of the most featured and dreamt-about cities in the world. This is not only because of its high altitude at 3,650 meters (11,975 feet) which means remoteness and limited accessibility, but also because of its over 1,000 years’ cultural and spiritual history which leaves an impressive heritage that has helped to create the romantic and mysterious Tibetan religion.
  • Physical Features: Different from the inland cities and other places in that high land, this area is unique with an allure all of its own.
  • One word of warning: although there is a gradually increasing tourism industry here, it is a city with many difficulties yet to be overcome due to its unique location and geography. Please bear in mind that a visit to this area is more challenging than in any other part of China. Despite this more and more people from every corner of the world are being attracted towards this vibrant city with its mysterious culture. Its unique scenery, long history, exotic culture, mystical religion and spectacular monuments will ensure your stay is unforgettable.