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Tibet - Lhasa city (life, pilgrims, Buddhism, ...) 2/5

Palace Dalai Lama Lhasa Tibet Potala
LHASA - The capital city of Tibet - The capital of Tibet and traditional home of the Dalailama (Potala Palace). It is an ancient city full of religion, pilgrims and tourists, with a dominant castle of the Dalailamas and several big monasteries in the neighbourhood. First news about Lhasa becoming a capital of the Tibet is from around 650 AD, but its status had changed through the following centuries. It has stayed in its status since the fifth Dalailama built the Potala palace and re-established Lhasa as a capital in 1642. There are several circuits/koras in Lhasa. One is around the Potala palace. Other called The Barkhor circles the heart of Lhasa and Tibetan old town - the Jokhang temple. Linghor kora - traditional route circling the old city and it is almost 8 km long. It does incorporate the new Chinese developments nowadays as it use the old route walked by the pilgrims for centuries. Main places in Lhasa are:

Lhasa - Praying Wheels
Barkor Lhasa Tibet praying wheel

BARKHOR SQUARE - traditional place of protests, pilgrimage, entrance to Jokhang temple and Barkhor kora. This is the real Tibetan heart of Lhasa. It creates border between old city and new Chinese development with a large streets, modern shops, restaurants. On one side are all the designers, famous brands shops and with the Jokhang temple, old city on the other. Circuit is full of sellers with traditional clothes, jewellery, incense, thangas, prayer flags and beads. There are always many pilgrims walking around and quite a lot of people prostrate. Along the way you can find several small temples and nunneries. Pilgrims and the smell of burned Juniper make it into a magical place.

Praying, Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

Barkhor Kora, Lhasa
Barkor Lhasa Tibet prayer

RAMOCHE - Is smaller, but very interesting temple in Lhasa. At the time of my stay, they had many ceremonies and also the sand mandala there. All these were happening as the result of a bigger repair works. One day I was lucky to see there a Guru Rimpoche (the head lama) - a very interesting old men. There is also small temple/chapel on the side of Ramoche called Tsepak Lhakhang - always filled with many pilgrims. Its atmosphere is indeed magical. Ramoche is a sister temple to the Jokhang, originally built to host the “Jowo Shakyamuni” image, before it got moved to the Jokhang.

Jokhang temple Lhasa Tibet Dalai Lama JOKHANG - one of the oldest and most religious places. It hosts the “Jowo Shakyamuni” - the most revered Buddha image in Tibet. A long cue of pilgrims waiting for access the Jowo is all the time circling inside temple and it’s definitely worth it to wait with them. There are also always many pilgrims praying in front of the temple. No matter if it is opened or closed. For the Tibetans it represents the living heart of their culture and therefore the time doesn’t make any difference. From its roof you can see roofs of an old town, surrounding mountains and also the Potala Palace.

Tibetan, Jokhang Temple

Lhasa - Potala palace (from the back side)
Potala Palace free Lhasa TibetPOTALA PALACE - Is stunning architectural creation, dominant on the hill. Nowadays surrounded by an entire newly build Chinese city. The old Tibetan city itself is situated around the Jokhang temple. It used to be a lively place, residence of Dalai Lamas. Nowadays it’s rather sad museum. It is being recognised as a national heritage by Chinese, but this is quite a recent movement. It used to be left to deteriorate in past. Now it is full of Chinese tourists, who come to admire the beauty of its architecture. Photography is strictly forbidden and you can see many signs to remind you about that. And in case you cannot read, each room is heavily guarded. You are not allowed to bring in lighters or matches, but my two knifes were perfectly ok. Reopened to public in 1980 and since then it went through some renovations. The most recent development is happening in the park behind the palace, which is being fully rebuilt. One of the main reasons for that is forthcoming of the Olympic Games in 2008 and also I heard Unesco had some talk about it with the Chinese government too.

Potala Palace inside, Lhasa
palace Dalai-Lama Lhasa Tibet Potala inside

Potala Palace - On the way up

LUKHANG TEMPLE - A temple on the small island on the lake behind the Potala palace.

Lukhang Temple, Lhasa

CHANGPO RI (Iron Mountain) - used to have one of the principal medical colleges (Mentsikhang), but now is dominated by a steel telecom tower (mast). Though there are very beautiful rock carvings on a cliff there. Not much visited by tourists, just a local people there.

Rock carvings, Changpo Ri

Lhasa - from the city kora
Lhasa kora street tibetans

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