rightly one of the most featured and dreamt-about cities in the world. This is
not only because of its remoteness, its high altitude at 3,650 meters (11,975
feet) means limited accessibility, but also because of its impressive heritage
of over a thousand years of cultural and spiritual history that has helped to
create the romantic and mysterious Tibetan religion. Differing from the inland
cities and other places in Tibet, Lhasa is unique with an allure all of its own.
In the Tibetan language, Lhasa means the Holy Land or the Buddha Land. It is the
center of Tibet's politics, economy and culture. The city has also been
appointed as one of the 24 historical and cultural cities of China. The splendor
and grandeur of the Potala Palace in Lhasa remains a world-famous symbol of the
enigmatic power of politics and religion in this region.
Reasons to visit
Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region lies on the
north bank of River Lhasa, at an altitude of 3,700 meters. It is the center of
Tibet’s political, economic, cultural and religious activities. There are many
historic sites and famous relics in the city proper and its suburbs.
Lying on the Red Hill in Lhasa City, Potala Palace is
regarded as the symbol of Lhasa, noted for its magnificent construction, complex
structure, pious atmosphere and delicate artworks. Originally, the King Songtsen
Gampo built it in the seventh century and later the Fifth Dalai Lama repaired it
in 1645. Its present size was enlarged by the thirteenth Dalai Lama. Gradually,
it has become the political center in Tibet and the seat of Dalai Lamas. It is
mainly made up of the Red Palace and the White Palace and covers an area of
about 25 acres.
Being one of the monasteries in Lhasa City, the Sera
Monastery is well known for its distinctive debating on Buddhist doctrines. When
you come here, remember to watch it which is held every afternoon. Debating on
Buddhist doctrines is a discussion on the understanding of Buddhism, and also an
effective way to increase Lama's knowledge on Buddhist studies. During the
debates, both sides engage in a war of words, and usually, they use body
gestures to strengthen their ideas. The heated discussion deeply moves visitors.
It is a very picturesque garden built over 200 years
ago. Norbulingka means 'Treasure Park' in Tibetan. Under the careful
construction of the Dalai Lamas, the attractions inside the park include
palaces, pavilions, villas and various trees and flowers. Especially, visitors
here can admire the unique architectural styles from the different palaces, such
as the Kelsang Potrang, the Tsokyil Potrang, the Golden Linka and the Takten
Migyur Potrang. It is really a nice place to experience the Tibetan culture and
Situated in the center of Lhasa, the Jokhang Temple is a typical Tibetan
Buddhist temple, which bears unparalleled status in the Tibetan Buddhism.
Constructed in 647 during the Tang Dynasty, the Jokhang Temple was built as a
memorial to the Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wencheng of the Tang
Dynasty. As the oldest wooden complex of Tibet, the temple covers an area of
over 25,100 square meters (6.2 acres). The main hall has four floors and a
gold-plating roof, looking rather spectacular.
A wonderful place for shopping in Lhasa is the Barkhor
Street. At first, it was just the lodging area for pilgrims. Gradually, it
became a trading center of the local people. Nowadays, merchants, pilgrims and
travelers from the central plain of China, Mongolia, Bhutan, India and Nepal
have made it a very prosperous street.
Lhasa is definitely a shopper's paradise for local ethnic
art crafts. Lhasa has a long history of making art crafts such as Thangka
(Tangka), carpets, knives, hats, and Tibetan medicine.
festivals have multiple origins and qualities. Although most of them are related
to Buddhism. Ox festival starts from the 15th day of the 8th month in Tibetan year
and usually lasts more than 10 days or even one month sometimes. During this
process, people will ask “heiba”(wizard) to recite scriptures, play yak horn and
kill tens of yaks or over 100 sheep, drinking freely and talking noisily. Butter
Lamp festival falls on the 15th day of the first
Tibetan month, the last day of Great Prayer Festival. In the daytime, people
will go to monasteries to worship Buddhas and pray. At night, a lamp festival
will be held on the Barkhor Street, where there will be lots of shelves filled
with colorful and various images such as gods, figures, birds, animals, flowers
and trees.Saka Dawa festival is also a traditional festival for Tibetan people.
April in Tibetan calendar is Buddha Month, so it is called “Saka Dawa” in
Tibetan. On this day, Tibetans will dress
themselves in their holiday best and assemble at the Dragon King Pool behind the
magnificent Potala Palace to celebrate this grand religious festival.Ongkor is a festival for Tibetans to celebrate agricultural
harvest once a year. “Ong” refers to field in Tibetan and “kor” rotating. So,
“ongkor” is a transliteration, meaning walking round the field.