15 Things You Must See in Lhasa

Go ahead and indulge! See the ideal ways to explore the City of Spiritual Awareness, including an Explore Lhasa Tour, where you enjoy spiritual delights. Spend some quality time with someone you love in the Himalayas. Lhasa is a unique and spiritual city. After a thousand years of turmoil, it has managed to retain its ancient palace, religious history, ancient temples, relics and streets. Visitors have every reason to pay a visit to Lhasa when they come to make Explore Tibet Tour. A visit to Lhasa will be a trip of a lifetime! No other destination provides so many unforgettable memories. The 15 things you must see in Lhasa are included here.

Potala Palace
Potala Palace
  1. Potala Palace, a must-see attraction in Lhasa, is a landmark of Tibet. The history of this awe-inspiring construction can be dated back to the 7th century, some 1,300 years ago that built by King Songtsen Gampo. With an area of over 360, 000 square meters, Potala Palace is a spectacular castle-like building complex of Lhasa, which is used to be the unification centre of political and religious of Tibet. With grand stele commemorating the architectural achievements of ancient Tibetans, the Potala Palace is truly a cultural treasure on the Tibetan Plateau. In December 1994, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. It is a must-visit site for tourists enjoying Tibet tours. The Potala Palace worked as the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas since the 7th century. It symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley. The palace is famous for its grand buildings, complicated constructions, special atmosphere, splendid artworks, precious scriptures, murals, jewels and antiques.
  2. Jokhang Temple, the famous landmark in Lhasa, is the irreplaceable representative of Tibetan religion. Located in the center of old Lhasa city, this majestic temple, which with the Barkhor Street surrounded, formed the “heart” of ancient Lhasa. It is said that Jokhang Temple occupies an unchallengeable position of Tibetan Buddhism. Built in 647 by Songtsen Gampo, Jokhang Temple is the oldest civil-structure building in Tibet that has a history of more than 1,300 years. It well mixed Tibetan, Tang-Dynasty, Nepalese and Indian style of architecture together, initiated a new space layout model for Tibetan monastery. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lhasa, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace’.
  3. Barkhor Street, a must visit site at the center of Lhasa, is the oldest street in a very traditional city of Tibet. Barkhor is the road that pilgrims tramped out around Jokhang Temple through centuries. Buddhist pilgrims walk or progress by body-lengths along the street clockwise every day into deep night. Now, the street is a famous commercial and commodity-distributing center in Lhasa, consisting of more than 120 handicrafts shops and more than 200 stalls. It is a good choice that should never be missed by tourists coming to Lhasa, for you can buy anything Tibet-related, from sacks of incense, chunks of yak butter to monk outfits. It is a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble.
  4. Sera Monastery, one of the three grand monasteries in Lhasa, is famous for its copper Buddhist Statue, Religious Painting and Buddhism Debating, etc. The whole construction mainly consists of the Coqen Hall, the Dratsang (place for studying) and the Kangcun (residence), etc. The Hayagriva Statue in Coqen Hall is the most popular attraction for tourists, but it has a special religious meaning for local followers. Besides, the intense Buddhist Debating is another spotlight of this monastery. Every day in the afternoon, monks with an intention of learning Buddhism come to the courtyard of this monastery and participate in Buddhist debate.
  5. Norbulinka Palace, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, lies in a quiet and beautiful garden in the west part of Lhasa. The well preserved murals, superb mandalas and frescoes are fascinating sights not to miss. One particular mural inside depicts the history of Tibet and all the Dalai Lamas. The Dalai Lama was living here during his last days in Tibet. The rooms have remained as they were when the Dalai Lama left in 1959.
  6. Drepung Monastery, another top attraction in Lhasa, is the largest monastery in Tibet. It was founded in 1416 by a disciple of Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelukpa School. Drepung Monastery was one of the best schools of the Middle-Ages and during the 1930s it housed over 10,000 monks from all regions of Asia. After the Chinese invasion and the persecution that followed, many of them retreated to India where they started a new monastery. Now only a few hundred monks remain at Drepung, but its history makes it a popular attraction.
  7. Ganden Monastery, one of the sacred monasteries of Gelugpa branch of Tibetan Buddhism, was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the originator of the Gelugpa sect. Ganden consists of many temples and other buildings. It covers an enormous area, as building continued for generations. One building called Cuoqin Vihara has 108 pillars and is large enough to house 3500 monks. It contains the beautiful and skillfully carved bronze statues of Maitreya (the future Buddha) and Tsongkhapa. The monastery is listed as one of Tibet’s cultural relics. The Lhasa’s must see site is perched just short of the top of Mount Wanrigu or Wangbur, 30 km east of Lhasa, at an altitude of 4500m.
  8. Drak Yerpa Monastery, located about 40km northeast to the city center of Lhasa, is a hermitage built on a hillside of the mountain at the altitude of 4885 meters. There are two popular Tibetan verses in relation to Drak Yerpa. One verse says that “While Tibet’s holy place is in Lhasa, Lhasa’s holy place in Drak Yerpa”. Another verse goes like that “Visiting Lhasa without going to Drak Yerpa is just like making a new clothe without adding the collar”. These two verses pinpoint the importance of Drak Yerpa in the hearts of the common Tibetan pilgrims. The hermitage is composed of many meditation caves. Some say there are now still 80 meditations left on the hillside. Some houses were built to accommodate the caves, hence cave temples. So actually Drak Yerpa is a cave monastery.
  9. Tibet Museum, a must see site in Lhasa, is located in the southeast corner of Norbulingka. The museum houses a rich collection of prehistoric cultural relics including Buddha statues in different postures, imperial jade seals, gold albums, gifts granted by emperors, colorful Thangkas, and various printed Sanskrit and local scriptures. Visitors can also see variety of folk art such as unique local handicrafts, costumes, jewellery, and adornments made of gold, silver, and jade, as well as fine Chinese pottery. In addition to showing the civilization of Tibet, the museum is also an ideal location to hold cultural exchanges and seminars, to preserve cultural relics, and to encourage the archaeological study. The museum is not only a source of information for the locals, but also attracts an increasing number of people from overseas and educates them about Tibetan culture.
  10. Ramoche Temple, a must see Tibetan Buddhist monastery, is regarded as the most important temple after the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. It is one of the great three Geluka university monasteries after the Jokhang Monastery. It is situated in the northwest of Lhasa City and about 500 meters away from the north of Barkhor Street. The temple shrines a small bronze statue of the Buddha. The temple was once badly destroyed by Mongolia invasion and Red Guards during Cultural Revolution. The original building was destroyed by fire and the now temple was reconstructed in 1474. At present, the temple is the key national cultural relic protection sites in Tibet.
  11. Tombs of the Early Tibetan Kings, a must see site for learning about ancient Tibetan civilization, is around 100 km southeast of Lhasa at south of the Yarlung Zangbo river and southwest of Mt Zongsam. Visitors who would like to explore the rich histories of the tombs of the early Tibetan kings, as well be want to intermingle with the local culture, should visit the site. The area is comprised of nine mausoleums of Tibetan kings, and one of the most famous grave sites, that of Songtsen Gambo’s, is said to cover an area of one hundred square meters alone for its inner tomb. Furthermore, there are three tombs worthy of note, and these are the tombs of Songtsen Gambo, Chide Songzan, and Dusong Mangbujie. The tomb of Songtsen Gambo has nine chambers inside, with the main chamber being a Buddhist hall. There is a coral lamp in the middle of the hall that never runs out of light. It was said that the four corners of the great king’s tomb used to hold treasure.
  12. Taklung Monastery, a most sacred site located just 120 km north of Lhasa, is a stunning building of bright red brick that contrasts beautifully with the rich green grass surrounding it. Thousands of prayer flags attached to the building catch the wind and provide a deeply moving display of faith. The over eight hundred years old monastery has been an important seat of the Kagyu Buddhist sect. The land on which the monastery now rests was once inhabited by a famous lama named Potawa. The site has been an area of sacred and religious activity for many centuries even before the current structure was built. The townspeople who reside nearby today hold the monastery in high esteem and are deeply proud to have it as the focal point of their village. Nowadays visitors enjoy it as a place of immense spiritual and cultural significance.
  13. Canggu Nunnery, the only Buddhist nunnery in the old city of Lhasa around Barkhor Street, is very popular among local residents. The nunnery is especially famous for its underground cave, in which Srongtsen Gampo, a renowned Buddhist, once cultivated himself. Inside the cave now enshrines a statue of Srongtsen Gampo. For centuries, this ancient sacred cave has welcomed tens of thousands of pilgrims from around Tibet to pray and chant. Canggu Nunnery has unique tradition and style. It is an ideal place for female Buddhists as well as women in society to learn about Buddhism and knowledge. As a public nunnery, Canggu Nunnery focuses on passing on and promoting ceremonies and rituals of believing Goddess of Mercy and Buddha Tara.
  14. Pabonka Hermitage, one of the most ancient Buddhist sites in Lhasa, was founded by Songtsän Gampo in the 7th century. Part of Sera Monastery, it is about 8km from Lhasa in the Nyang bran Valley on the side of Mount Parasol. Pobanka means “on the top of a giant rock” in Tibetan language. It got its name due to its construction on a giant rock. It is said that it was built even earlier than the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastery. Several of famous Tibetan kings and monks used to meditate there in different times, and Pabonka is said to be the place where Tibetan Alphabets were created.
  15. Lhasa Carpet Factory, situated at Hebalin to the east of the old city of Lhasa, is a significant tourist attraction in the holy city. The carpet factory is renowned for its beautiful and delicate Tibetan and Persian carpets, as well as the Oriental Artistic carpets. Carpet weaving is an ancient craft in Tibet. Tibetan carpet is a symbol of the traditional Tibetan arts and crafts. With over 900 years’ history, a distinctive production procedure has been formed, including spinning, dyeing, weaving and trimming and so on. Stepping into the factory, travelers can not only enjoy the elegance of this fine craft, but also appreciate the delicate weaving processes used to create each masterpiece.

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