A Guide to Lhasa’s Palaces and Monasteries

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is a city surrounded by Buddhist temples, hermitages, nunneries and monasteries with historical and religious significance. Rich in Tibetan culture, the beautiful landscape offers austere beauty that makes Lhasa a center for religious devotion. You can experience peace and serenity unlike any other place.

Here’s a brief guide to Lhasa highlighting a few places you shouldn’t miss:

Potala Palace was the winter home of the Dalai Lama until he fled to India in 1959 during the uprising. Surrounded by majestic mountains and resting on top of the Red Mountain that rises from the center of the Lhasa valley, the palace has deep historic and religious value.

The Jokhang Temple was built in the seventh century, and it has remained an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination. Over the centuries, it was sacked and looted, and many of the Buddhist scriptures were destroyed. However, the temple survived, and the temple complex has been expanded. It is considered the most important temple in Lhasa.

Barkhor Street is an ancient street that surrounds the Jokhang Temple. Due to the great attraction of the temple, thousands of people visited it creating a trodden path, which is said to be the origin of the street. The path is considered sacred and still used by pilgrims and locals to walk around the temple as they pray. It is a magical place for tourists with its varied shops and floating stands at every corner.

A short distance from the Potala Palace is the Norbulingka Palace, which was the summer home of the Dalai Lama. Surrounding a large area, it is the largest man-made garden in Tibet, and it is considered the premier park in Tibet. During the summer and autumn months, it is one of the most popular parks to hold dancing and music festivals.

The Drepung Monastery is one of the three well-known monasteries in Lhasa, and it was the home of the Dalai Lama until the Potala Palace was constructed. Built in 1416 and located on the Gambo Utse mountain, Drepung is the biggest Tibetan monastery. At one time, it was considered the largest in the world housing 10,000 monks.

While Tibet is a magical land worth exploring, the current political situation makes it impossible for individuals to travel independently. For more information on planning your trip, you’ll need to make prior arrangements through a Tibet tour company which will assist you in obtaining a travel permit and planning out an itinerary.

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