Lhasa, in Tibet “the throne of God,” is the fascinating capital of the Autonomous Region of Tibet. The city, which has approximately 129,500 inhabitants, is located in the heart of the valley of the Kyi Chu, incredible altitude of 3,650 meters. Point reference for Buddhists and non- Lhasa is visited each year by many thousands of tourists admiring the beauty of the monasteries and landscapes, but also magical atmosphere that you breathe walking through the streets of downtown. Much of the inhabitants of Tibet is subject to a real reverence for the capital, residence until 1959 the highest living expression of Buddhism: the Dalai Lama.
Lhasa became an important administrative center during the seventh century, when Songtsen Gampo, king of the Yarlung Valley, continued the enterprise of unification of Tibet started by his father. The king moved to the capital city and built a palace on the site where now stands the Potala. Following the collapse of the monarchy Yarlung, who ruled for 250 years, Buddhism enjoyed a gradual resurgence in various monasteries outside of Lhasa and the seat of government was moved first to Sakya, then Nedong and then to Shigatse. Deprived of its status as capital, Lhasa languished on the margins of Tibetan history until the fifth Dalai Lama, in the mid-seventeenth century, with the support of Mongolian, defeated the king of Shigatse. It was the Dalai Lama to return the capital to Lhasa, where he built his own residence, the Potala, on the ruins of the palace of Songtsen Gampo. The city is, therefore, capital of Tibet since 1642 and is the second phase of its development dating back almost all the monuments and historical sites that mark.
The urban area of Lhasa has grown significantly over the past two decades. The capital city is clearly divided into two parts: western (China) and eastern (Tibetan), with the line represented by the Potala, which is located in a “no man’s land” between the two areas. The eastern end is the most picturesque part of the city and offers affordable accommodation especially frequented by independent travelers. The city’s main street, which runs along the east-west axis, it is called Beijing Zhonglu (Dekyi Nub Lam) and called Beijing Donglu (Dekyi Shar Lam) in the east. The Jokhang and Barkhor Square is located half way between Beijing and Jiangsu Lu Donglu and are connected to these two main streets winding alleys of the Tibetan quarter, a mysterious labyrinth of narrow streets lined by whitewashed façades of the traditional houses.
Most tourists choose to start your visit to the city with a walk in the Barkhor, the kora, or “circuit pilgrimage”, more interesting than Lhasa. This quadrangle of streets surrounding the Jokhang and some of the adjacent buildings identifies an area without equal in the world, an area that has resisted all attempts of infiltration by the modern world. Following the flow of pilgrims between stalls full of saints and icons, felt hats and electric mixers will meet the Mani Lhakhang, a small chapel that houses a huge prayer wheel almost always in motion. Within walking distance you will run even in the Jampa Lhakhang, also said Jamkhang or Holy Water Temple, and the Monastery of Meru Nyingba, while on the western side of the courtyard that opens a few hundred yards away stands the small figure of Gongkar Chode, a chapel belonging to the school Sakyapa. The building best known and most fascinating, however, is the Jokhang, Tsuglhakhang in Tibetan. A visit to this monastery, filled with intense smell of yak butter, animated by the soft murmur of the faithful who recite the mantra and always full of pilgrims, is one of the most authentic that you can live in all Tibet.
Another major architectural wonders of Lhasa is the Potala Palace, a majestic structure comparable to a fortress in which resided ten Dalai Lama. The building is very different from the Jokhang, inspires a kind of awe. The lack of life and the tranquility that surrounds the place remind the visitor of the exile of the Dalai Lama, who was forced to displace the government. Returning to the purely religious sphere, there are many monasteries, some lesser-known, that dot the center of Lhasa. These include: the Tsome Ling, one of the four temples ling (real) of the city, the Tengye Ling, the temple dedicated to the cult Nyingmap Tseumar, represented with the classic red face, the Shide Tratsang, almost entirely in ruins, the Rigsum Lhakhang, a small chapel hidden in a small courtyard to the south-west of Barkhor Square, and Pode Kangtsang that, unlike the previous ones, is located in a rather remote south of the old city. Very striking are the prayers and discussions among the monks at the shrines of Sera and Drepung, and requires a trip of at least a day to get to the Ganden Monastery, located 50 km north-east of the capital.
Because of the altitude, the weather is particularly cold in winter, while in summer it is pleasant. In January, the temperatures are consistently below freezing, with minimum night which can be as high as -20. In July, however, the values rise significantly, with maximum afternoon well above 20 degrees. The only drawback for those who decide to visit Lhasa and Tibet in summer rainfall, particularly intense between June and September, while in winter the phenomena are much more rare and usually occur in the form of snow.
A Lhasa is the most important airport of the whole Tibet : the Lhasa Gonggar Airport. The airport is served by daily flights to / from Kathmandu, Chengdu, Beijing or Hong Kong, or the location at which it is necessary to call before landing in Tibet. Urban transport consist of buses and minibuses, although it is much more exciting to visit the city on foot. An experience is to climb on one of the colorful bicycle rickshaw that run throughout the center.
Originally posted 2012-09-04 05:40:30.