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Lhasa – A Blend of Culture and History
Introduction to Lhasa
Lhasa, a Tibetan word that means “Holy Land” is a city that can be found on the northern part of the Lhasa River in Tibet along the Himalayas. This city is one of the highest cities in the world and the second most populous city in Tibet following Xining. The place houses most of the significant Tibetan Buddhist sites, thus being called as the “Holy Land”. It is also known to be called by the locals as the “Solar City” because of its exposure to sunlight. The city is the capital of administrative, political and economic progressions and acts. It is also rich in Tibetan culture and history that dates back to a thousand years or more before its ancestors.
The Potala Palace is erected at the center of the city. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage site since the year 1994. The name of the place was taken from Mount Potala, the home of the Goddess of Mercy. It was built in 673 for the welcoming of Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty as the bride of King Songsten Gampo the leader of the Tibetan Empire. The Potola palace was then constructed in 1645 during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama and became a home for its government. This towering palace is enveloped in stone walls that are 3 meters thick and filled with over 13 stories of buildings that can accommodate more than a thousand rooms, thousands of shrines and statues.
Also, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, the Jokhang Temple is the most holy and significant temple in Tibet. It was made for the first wife of the Tibetan Empire leader King Songsten Gampo, Princess Bhrikuti Nepalese princess. The artists from Nepal helped in building this prestigious temple in the Barkhor Streets of downtown Lhasa City.
Norbulingka Park can be found in the west part of Lhasa City that was used as a summer resort for the Dalai Lamas from the 1780s until 1959 when the 14th Dalai Lama’s self-displacement. It was also a place of administrative and religious activities of the Dalai Lama. It was constructed in 1755. This historical park also belongs to the list of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site that showcases the unique Tibetan architecture and the best park in Tibet. Festivities are held during summer and autumn where various entertainments with dancing and music are always loud and welcoming to those who love partying.
As the location of the Johkang Temple in downtown of Lhasa City, this street of known as a pilgrims trail that surrounded the religious temple. The street is filled with Tibetans coming from the remote villages and mountain areas for their devotional practices.
One of the important Gelukpa temple, Sera Monastery along with the Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery was built on the hill covered in wild roses hence the name “Sera” which means wild roses in bloom. This is a home of more than 3,000 monks and known for the debating activity that is held in each afternoon. This monastery is dedicated to a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect that was established by Tsong Khapa.
At the foot of Mount Gephel, one of the Gelukpa Temples, The Drepung Monastery can be found. It is the largest Tibetan Monastery and was the largest temple in the world. It is home of over 10,000 monks and served as the burial grounds of the 2nd and 5th Dalai Lama that were entombed from the place where Potala Palace was built.
As the first modern museum in Tibet Autonomous Region, the Tibet Museum is located on the west side of Lhasa. It was constructed on October 5, 1999 and became a place where exhibits of collections of relative artifacts of the Tibetan cultural history. The building itself is made with genuine Tibetan design complete with Tibetan doors and decorations that have patterns unique and authentic Tibetan art.
This salt lake is the largest lake in Tibet. This lake is proud of the five islands that vary in sizes. The weather in Namtso is unpredictable for they experience sudden changes and commonly occurring snowstorms.
Yangbajing Geothermal Hot Spring
Yangbajing Geothermal Hot Spring is in the town of Yangbajing located at the north-west part of the Lhasa City. The springs are known as a great source of thermoelectric power that is being extracted by a power plant built on 1977. It was the first power plant to develop geothermal power in the whole China.
Known as the “Minir Jokhang Temple”, The Ramoche Temple is located in the north side of the majestic Jokhang Temple. It is the sister temple and was completed just about the same time with Jokhang Temple. It is one of the important monasteries that can be found in Tibet.
Obtaining a Visa to Tibet
A visa is required to enable every person who is interested in visiting Tibet. There are travel agencies where they organize the needed papers to acquire a visa from the Chinese consulate. For individual visitors, a special permission should be granted by the offices under the Tibet Tourism Administration in China.
Sights Around Lhasa
A Good Read
- Lhasa travel guide - Wikitravel
Open source travel guide to Lhasa, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more. Free and reliable advice written by Wikitravellers from around the globe.