LHASA: In the Tibetan language, Lhasa means the Holy Land or the Buddha Land. There are incredible sites like POTALA PALACE (majestic winter palace of Dalai Lama dominantly located in the central part of Lhasa city), JOKHANG TEMPLE (8th century temple of Avaloketeshwar), BARKHOR BAZAAR (typical Tibetan downtown still intact with its originality and flavour) and DREPUNG & SERA monasteries (the biggest monasteries in Tibet still vibrant with hundreds of monks and lamas). 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.
POTALA PALACE: The Potala, one of the most famous architectural works of the world Situated on the Red Hill of central Lhasa. Potala named after a holy hill in South India is a Sanskrit word meaning “Abode of the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy).”
In the 7th century, after the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo’s married Princess Wencheng of the Tang Court, the Plalace was built to provide the Tibetan court with a place of worship and meditation. In the mid-17th century, it was re-built by the 5th Dalai Lama to its present size, and became the Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas. The construction took fifty years from beginning to completion. The Potala is divided into two sections, namely, the Red Palace and White Palace. The total height of the Potala is 117 meters spanning thirteen storeys. The length of the Palace from east to west is 400 meters and the breadth from south to north is 350 meters. The building was constructed of stone and timber with golden roofs. It is a majestic architectural masterpiece.
JOKHANG TEMPLE:This Temple is located in central Lhasa. With an area of 25,100 square meters (about six acres), it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. Jokhang Temple was built in the mid-7th century A. D.
It was later extended by successive rulers, and has now become a gigantic architecture complex. Located in the east, and facing the west, It is a four storeyed Temple with splendid golden roofs. Its architecture features art from the Tang Dynasty but also assimilated many features from both Nepalese and Indian Buddhist Temples. The murals in the temple depict the life stories of historic and religious characters. The temple houses many historical relics, including statues of King Songtsen Gompo, Princess Wencheng, Princess Bhrikuti Devi (Nepalese). “Princess Willow” (a tree), and “The Uncle-Nephew Alliance Tablet.” Jokhang is Tibet’ s spiritual center, and the holiest destination for Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. It houses a sitting of statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old. An evening walk (Kora) around the Jokhang Temple together with the Tibetan pilgrims is a lifetime experience.
BARKHOR MARKET: Located in the old area of Lhasa City, Tibet, Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple. It is a must-see place for visitors. Barkhor Street is a magical place showing the original outlook of Lhasa. It was paved by hand-polished stone boards.
Though it is not broad, it accommodates thousands of tourists every day. Varied shops stand on its both sides and thousands of floating stands are on every corner. Most of them offer the prayer wheels, long-sleeve ‘chuba’ (the Tibetan people’s traditional clothes), Tibetan knives and some religious articles for sale. Furthermore, some shops sell ‘Thangka‘ (the Tibetan scroll painting), which is a unique art of Tibet with the themes of religion, history, literature, science and customs. Surprisingly, there are some articles from India and Nepal in this street as well.
DREPUNG MONASTERY: Situated at the foot of the Mountain Gambo Utse, 5 KM from the western suburb of Lhasa, This monastery was established in 1416 by Tsong Khapa’s disciple Jamyang Qoigyi, who was versed in both Esoteric and Exotoric Buddhism and became the first Kampo there.
It is also known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. Covering an area of 250,000 square meters (299,007 square yards), it held 7,700 monks in total and possessed 141 fazendas and 540 pastures in its heyday, and is the largest-scale monastery among the ones of the same kind. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given the name ‘Drepung‘, which, in the Tibetan language, means ‘Collecting Rice.
SERA MONASTERY: Sera means “hailstone” in Tibetan. Set at the foot of the Wudu Hill to the north of Lhasa City, Sera is comprised of a great sutra chanting hall and a college. Situated at three kilometers distance to a northern suburb of Lhasa, Sera Monastery was founded in 1419 by Jamchen Choje, a disciple of Tsongkapa, the founder of Gelugpa Sect. The monastery was named Sera which means wild rose in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when it was built. The monastery is magnificent and covers an area of 114,946 square meters (28 acres).
Its main buildings are the Coqen Hall, Zhacang (college) and Kamcun (dormitory). Scriptures written in gold powder, fine statues, scent cloth and unparalleled murals can be found in these halls. Colorful debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here and these employ a style distinctive from those at Lhasa’s other famous monasteries.
NORBU LINGKA: Norbu Lingka, jewel park, is one of the most relaxing & pleasant parts of Lhasa. The site is a large, 40 hectre enclave on the outskirts of town, full pf trees, ponds, gardens, palaces and pavilions. It was started by the 7th Dalai Lama, but its new form dates back to 1956. Norbu Lingka is taken as the summer palace of Dalai Lama and the Potala Place as winter palace.