architectural wonder is Lhasa' cardinal landmark. It can be seen from
all directions for miles around. Potala was set up in the seventh
century AD during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo. It's located on
the Red Hill, covers an area of 41 hectares.
Potala consists of the White and Red palaces with more than 1000
rooms. The white places was for secular use. It contained living
quarters, offices, the seminary and the printing house. The red
Palace's function was religious. It contained gold stupas, which were
the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas, the monks' assembly hall, numerous
chapels and shrines, and libraries for Buddhist Scriptures.
Jokhang is the
spiritual center of Tibet, the Holy of Holies, the destination of
millions of Tibetan pilgrims. Unlike the lofty Potala, the Jokhang has
intimate, human proportions, bustling with worshippers and redolent
with mystery. The outer courtyard and porch of the temple are usually
filled with pilgrims making full-length prostration towards the holy
sanctum. Its innermost shrine contains the oldest, most precious
object in Tibet - the original gold stature of Sakyamuni - the
historical Buddha, which Princess Wen Cheng brought from Chang'an
1,300 years ago.
to Lhasa's pilgrimage circuit, a quadrangle of streets that surrounds
the Jokhang and some of the old buildings adjoining it. It is an area
unrivalled in Tibet for its fascinating combination of deep
religiosity and push-and-shove market economics. Barkhor is both the
spiritual heart of the holy city and the main commercial district for
Drepung lies 8
km west of Lhasa on a main road, then 3km north on a steep, unpaved
road. Its name means Rice Heap after its jumble of white monastic
buildings piled up on the hillside. It used to be world's largest
monastery with more than 10,000 monks, and now still Tibet's largest
monastery. Every year in early August, Tibetans celebrate their major
festival - Shoton, the Yogurt Festival. The most important event of
this festival - Giant Buddha Show is held in Drepung Monastery.
5km north of central Lhasa, is along with Drepung one of Lhasa's two
great Gelugpa monasteries. Sera is famous for its "Buddhism Scriptures
Debating": monks can be seen preparing for monastic exam by staging
mock debates in the ritual way. Some sit cross-legged under the trees,
while others run from group to group giving vigorous hand-claps to end
a statement or make a point. Master and dignitaries sit on the raised
tiers when a real exam takes place.
meaning Jewel Park, was Dalai Lama's summer palace since the Seventh.
Its light-hearted air makes it less demanding than most sights in
Lhasa The Norbulinka is well worth a visit at festival times and
public holidays. On Shoton Festival, the park is crowded with
picnickers, and traditional Tibetan opera performances are also held
The ruins of
this great monastery lie about 45km east of Lhasa. Situated at 4500m
in a bowl like an amphitheater, Ganden was the first Gelugpa monastery
and has remained the main seat of this major Buddhist order ever
since. It was founded by Tsongkhapa, the revered reformer of the
Gelugpa order. Ganden would probably be the best choice for one
monastery excursion outside of Lhasa, with its stupendous views of the
surrounding Kyi Chu Valley.