The Tibet Autonomous Region is known by many as the “Roof of the World” due to its elevation of over 13,000 feet above sea level. Tibet is a charming place to visit, with its beautiful landscapes, brilliant culture, and mysterious folklore. Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is located along the banks of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River.
It has a history of more than 1,300 years. Lhasa (“the sacred place”) has an abundance of sunshine; hence its reputation as the Solar City. It is a center of politics, economy, transport, and religious activities. There are many places of interest in Lhasa, such as the Potala Palace, Sera Monastery, and the Jokhang Monastery. Lhasa’s original appearance and traditional lifestyle are largely intact at Barhkor Street in the old part of Lhasa, where all sorts of arts and crafts are on sale. Flights leave on a regular basis from Lhasa to Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi’an and Kathmandu. The Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet highways are the main routes to the region.
Potala Palace, the most famous building in the region, was built in the 640′s during the reign of King Songtsan Gampo and is located on “Red Hill” to the west of old Lhasa. The 13-story palace stands 383 feet high and has over 1,000 rooms with an area of 101 acres. The entire building is made of stone and wood, with walls averaging 10 feet thick. Potala Palace is a renowned complex of Chinese palatial architecture and a crystallization of classical Tibetan architecture, and it deserves its position as part and parcel of the world’s cultural heritage.
The Jokhang Monastery, located in the center of old Lhasa, was built in the year 647 and is significant because it is the earliest wood and masonry structure still in existence in Tibet. The Jokhang is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. It is said the site was chosen personally by the wife of King Songtsan Gampo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng. It was built by craftsmen from Tibet, China and Nepal and thus features various architectural styles. The inscribed tablets, as well as the willow trees planted in the year 823, by Princess Wencheng’s burial site in front of the monastery, are historical evidence of the union of the Han and Tibetan people over the centuries.
Norpulingkha (“garden of treasures”) is situated in the western suburbs of Lhasa. It was the site of the first Dalai Lama’s summer palace. From the mid-18th century onwards, each successive Dalai Lama moved to the park during the summer season, and carried out all their religious and political affairs from there.
The traditional lifestyle and appearance of Lhasa’s Old City district are well represented in Barkhor Street. The Barkhor is found in the heart of Lhasa encircling the Jokhang Temple. It means a “pilgrim’s inner circuit.” Pilgrims turn their prayer wheels on the street and visitors can get anything and everything Tibetan they could hope for.
The Drepung Monastery, the Sera Monastery, the Pamoche Monastery and Yamzho Yumco Lake
Preparation for Visiting Tibet in Lhasa
Group visitors overseas are welcome to travel and experience Tibet, but must first apply for permission to enter at the travel agencies under the Tibetan Tourism Bureau. The offices of the Tibet Tourism Bureau are located in various places and handle the permits to Tibet, as well as provide tourist consultation services.
Following is a list of all the cities:
The Silk Road