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Lhasa Area (3,658 m)

POTALA PALACE
This 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 TEMPLE
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.


BARKHOR AREA
Barkhor refers 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 Tibetans.

DREPUNG MONASTERY
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.


SERA MONASTERY
Sera, around 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.


NORBULINGKA
Norbulingka, 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 there.


GANDEN MONASTERY
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.

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Information provided by Tibet Tourism Bureau Shanghai Office.

 

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