Visit Potala Palace and Jokang Monastery today, then walk on the Barkhor street surrounding Jokhang, a big free market with its prolific stalls for selling local specialties.
Potala Palace: This architectural wonder is Lhasa’ cardinal landmark. It can be seen from all directions for miles around. Potala was set up in the seventh century AD during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo. It’s located on the Red Hill, covers an area of 41 hectares. At an elevation of more than 3,700m, the Potala occupies an area of more than 360,000m. Its 13-story main portion rises 117m. The whole complex, consisting of halls, stupa-tomb halls (where the relics of the supreme lamas are preserved), shrines, prayer rooms, monks’ dormitories and courtyards, is recognized as the world’s highest and largest castle palace. (Please be informed that there is a limitation of the incoming tourists visiting Potala palace everyday so as to protect the palace. Since the palace is made of clay and wood, it could becomes very fragile and may collapse if too many tourists enter the palace at the same time. As such to visit Potala Palace, now very limited no. of tourists are allowed every hour and the maximum time inside the palace has also been limited to just one hour. Due to this, your sightseeing program may vary from morning to afternoon or from one day to another as per the entry ticket availability at Potala palace as such kindly be flexible.)
Jokhang Temple, a massive building consisting of three floors and an open roof all filled with chapels and chambers, has undergone extensive reconstructions and additions since the 7th century, particularly during the 17th century reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. While parts of the existing temple structure date from earlier times, most of the murals are from the 18th and 19th centuries and few statues (with the notable exception of the Joyo Sakyamuni) are older than the 1980’s. The temple was sacked several times during Mongol incursions but its worst treatment has been at the hands of the Chinese since their occupation of Tibet in 1959. The Jokhang is the most celebrated temple in Tibet. Because the temple is not controlled by a particular sect of Tibetan Buddhism it attracts adherents of all the sects as well as followers of Bon-Po, Tibet’s indigenous religion. Three pilgrimage circuits exist in Lhasa, each directing pilgrims to the Jowo Sakyamuni statue: the Lingkhor, which encircles the city’s sacred district; the Barkhor, which encloses the Jokhang temple; and the Nangkhor, a ritual corridor inside the Jokhang. Every day throughout the year hundreds of pilgrims circumambulate each of these three circuits. Some pilgrims will cover the entire distance by prostrating every few feet, and others will walk slowly, chanting sacred mantras and spinning hand-held prayer wheels. For more than a thousand years millions of pilgrims have trod these sacred paths with devotion in their hearts; this cumulative focusing of intention and love has charged the Jokhang with an enormously powerful field of sanctity.
Barkhor Street: The center of the old Lhasa, Barkhor is a circular street, which is the oldest street in Lhasa and remains very traditional. It is a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble and a place to which a visit must be paid. It was said that in the seventh century when Songtsen Gampo, the first Tibetan King (617 or 650), who unified Tibet, married Chinese Princess Wencheng and Nepal princess Tritsun. Later Princess Tritsun built Jokhang Temple to accommodate the Jowo Sakyamuni aged 12 brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng. Barkhor is the road which pilgrims tramped out around Jokhang Temple through centuries. Buddhist pilgrims walk or progress by body-lengths along the street clockwise every day into deep night. They comprise most of Lhasa’s floating population.