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Lhasa – Tibet, China

Imagine being in the Tibet at 4300 meters at the center of Tibetan Buddhism worldwide: The Jokhang Temple. Or walking through the private quarters of The Potala Palace where the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, himself was. You’ll be enchanted with the deep spirituality of the place. If you visit Lhasa you won’t ever forget the mix of fresh juniper incense, the smell of yak butter lamps, the chanting monks and the pilgrims walking around outside of the temple.

The Center of Tibetan Buddhism

The Tibet is surrounded by an atmosphere that is half ethereal and half medieval especially the small streets around the Jokhang temple. This temple was finished in AD 647 and it has gone under many restorations and expansions ever since.

You can find many district pilgrimage circuits around the Jokhang. For example, the Lingkhor, that is the outer one, goes around the entire city. The Barkhor is a circular road and goes out of the temple. All day long pilgrims process in a constant torrent around the Barkhor clockwise.

People from the easter wearing red threads braided in their hair blend with monks and Golak nomads. They walk while spinning prayer wheels or mumbling prayers. Some prefer to have a walk and chat. Others show their penitence by prostrating their bodies on the floor.

Yak Butter Lamps, Chanting Monks and Walking Pilgrims

In front of The Jokhang Temple, pilgrims burn offerings of juniper in two enormous braziers. Once you smell the strong fragrance of juniper, it will make you think of Lhasa until the last day of your life. Nearby you’ll find a small market where you can buy anything that the pilgrims use for their devotions from prayer wheels, yak butter to fresh juniper.

Then, you’ll encounter two big prayer wheels on the main porch of the temple which is in constant motion thanks to the pilgrims. When you look at the patio in the front, there are pilgrims prostrating themselves over and over again.  

Inside the temple, you’ll see the inner pilgrimage route the Nangkhor. In this one, the pilgrims walk around the temple and try to spin each prayer wheel with their hand. They do this with the end in mind of releasing their prayers up to the sky. In the dark main hall of the temple, you can feel the heaviness of the air due to the yak butter lamps, and you can hear the chanting of monks giving a holy atmosphere. No doubt, all of this will give you the goosebumps.

On the top of the city of Lhasa kind of isolated from the modern city, you find the home of the spiritual leader of the Tibetan: the Potala Palace. In the past, it was home of the Dalai Lama; now it looks more like a museum.

Some Advice Before Visiting

Tibet is very unstable politically and rules change a lot. You’ll need a special visa for being there and another one for visiting China. You can get to Lhasa by taking a tour or by plane but always bear in mind the duration of your visa. You will find the cheapest accommodation in the Tibetan quarter. And one of the best travel agencies to guide you is Shigatse Travels.

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