Visiting Barkor Square & Jokhang Temple in Lhasa
Barkor Square is a circular street going around the famous Jokhang Temple in the centre of Lhasa. The temple is the spiritual heart of all Tibetans and many priceless religious artifacts are beeing kept within. Day and night masses of tibetan pilgrims circulate Jokhang and prostrate countless times for bliss and spiritual development. The devotion of the tibetan people for this holy place creates a unique atmosphere of peace and mysticism, bringing ancient buddhist deities back to life …
After the sumptuous lunch we carried our full bellies
over Barkhor Square and through hundreds of praying and prostrating Tibetans. Barkhor square is a famous shopping street where one shop after another displays any kind of spiritual instrument and accessories, jewelry, decorations and religious statues or Thangkas (roll-paintings) of nearly every deity of tibetan buddhism. A few decades ago Barkhor street was also a residential area of Lhasa but due to restructure programs by the chinese government the inhabitants had to leave their flats to make room to merchants mainly from “homeland China” (= central Han-China). The square is not only frequented by thousands of tourists from all over the world every day but mainly by pilgrims from all corners of Tibet who walk or prostrate clockwise past the shops, cafes, prayer wheels and prayer flags to circuit the next UNESCO world heritage site in Lhasa: the famous Jokhang temple, the most sacred place in all of Tibet.
The Jokhang temple is dedicated to Buddha Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha Gautama) and houses his most precious statue – the “Jowo Rinpoche”. We dived into the spiritual atmosphere of this holy monument and marvelled at masterpieces of Tibetan Thangka Art, statues of different saints and other representatives of the Tibetan pantheon and discovered elaborately decorated golden rooftops, halls, typical steep stairways and wooden carvings all over the place. In every corner we found precious pieces of art and the whole temple was sparkling with a mystcial divine atmosphere. The main hall also included the throne of the 14th Dalai Lama which stays empty until today.
The definite highlight of our visit to Jokhang in Lhasa was the amazing Jowo Shakyamuni or Jowo Rinpoche, a gold statue which is considered to be blessed personally by the historical Buddha Gautama himself. It was brought by the Chinese princess Wenchen Kongjo when she married the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 6th century. Normally it was not possible for visitors to approach the precious relic unless they offer pure gold to the temple. However owing to Dr. Nida’s commitment our group was allowed to pass through the guards and even touch the wishful filling statue to acquire highest blessings. Everybody who wanted to empower their Malas (buddhist praying beads), other objects or pray for a wish found a unique opportunity to do so. It was truly a magical moment for many of our Sorig Tour group! Further we received Katas from the monks praying at Jowo Rinpoche too and left the sacred temple full of bliss.
Our first day in the place of the gods ended with a scenic dinner above the rooftops of Lhasa. We ate our delicious buffet food while enjoying views over the golden roofs of Jokhang temple to the left and the Chagpori hill (which was the seat of the Men Tsee Khang School of Tibetan medicine before its destruction during the culture revolution) with the prominent TV-antenna on top and the proud red-white walls of Potala Palace in front of us. The setting sun flooded the whole scene into golden flames before she disappeared behind the tall mountain ridges behind the palace.
Since we knew that a short walk is beneficial after such a huge meal and inspired by the impressive view we decided to take a nice walk to the gardens beneath Potala before we headed back to our Yak Hotel.
Find out more about what we discovered in and around Lhasa!
Bellow you can find the corresponding articles about our first days in Central Tibet. Part 2 to come soon!
Following our exciting tour through East Tibet/ Amdo our group headed towards Lhasa in Central Tibet. We visited many famous and spiritual places with high importance to Tibetan Buddhism as well as Traditional Tibetan Medicine - Sowa Rigpa - in and around Lhasa the following weeks. There is so much to write about but we tried to point out the most important sights and experiences.
On the first day in Central Tibet our Sorig Tours group already visited one of the biggest highlights of the week: the birthplace of Yuthok Yönten Gonpo the Elder. He is considered to be the founding father of Traditional Tibetan Medicine, Sowa Rigpa. Remarkably he was not only a great doctor who reached the unbelievable age of 125 years in the 8th century A.D. but he was also a highly realized buddhist practitioner who achieved the absolute rainbow body – the highest form of enlightenment – together with his wife, and his dog.
Under high security measurements we entered the famous Potala Palace which stretches out majestically upon Marpori Hill over the roof tops of Lhasa. We had to climb over 170 steps to reach the inner court yard from where we proceeded into the many chambers and halls of the former residence of his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. While the white part of the palace inherits facilities for political and worldly matters, the red painted buildings are dedicated to spirituality and host many buddhist artifacts.