Lhasa means Land of the Gods. The city is over 1,300 years old and sits in a valley right alongside the River Lhasa. Its appearance is changing daily as the city is booming. The old Tibetan quarter is only a small area of today’s city, which offers busy streets with a fantastic cultural mix.
The spectacular Potala Palace is the most striking landmark in Lhasa and an architectural wonder. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. You will remember the sight of this fort-like palace, perched high above the holy city, for the rest of your life. A huge 13 storeys high it contains thousands of rooms and is built in the style of a very elaborate traditional Buddhist gompa. The palace was the winter resivdence of the Dalai Lama and contains the private quarters and numerous staterooms. Now it is used as the state museum of China and listed as a Cultural Unesco World Heritage site. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues.
The Jokhang Temple is an unrivalled Tibetan experience. It is the spiritual heart of Lhasa, an abundance of butter lamps, incense and pilgrims. Assimilate the smell of Yak butter and the murmur of mantras. The temple originates from the 7th century and has architectural features from the Tang Dynasty and from Indian & Nepali Buddhist Temples. It houses many historical relics since the Tang Dynasty and statues of King Songsten Gompo, Princess Wencheng from China and Princess Bhrikuti from Nepal. The temple is surrounded by the Barkhor market, where you can stroll through the busy lanes that seem to have resisted all invasions of the modern world. Take a kora (a pilgrimage circuit) around the temple through the market to fully immerse in this life.
Sera Monastery is one of the best preserved monasteries in Tibet. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is one of the three great monasteries of Tibet, the other two being Drepung & Gande. A visit is particularly interesting in the morning or during debating hours in the afternoon, when the monastery comes to live
Norbulingka is the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornated with Tibetan carvings and pai
Drepung Monastery once was one of the largest in the world with 10,000 monks. In former times the monastic buildings piled up like a rice heap (“Drepung”) on the hillside. Ganden Palace in the monastery was home of the second Dalai Lama until the fifth Dalai Lama. Today you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses here. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect and contains plenty of historic relics, Buddhist scriptures, arts & crafts.