Lhasa Tourist Attractions
Capital of the Autonomous Region of Xizang (Tibet)Lhasa (Tibetan 5 ''Place of the Gods'') is also known by the name ''City of Sun'', because it is situated high on the Tibetan plateau, the ''Roof of the World'', which is very well favored by the sun.
Lhasa lies on the banks of the river of the same name (Lasahe; Kyichu) in the south of Tibet.Lhasa's airport lies 120km/75mi outside the city.Lhasa's history begins with Tibet's first king, Songtsen Gampo, (ruled 620-649), who moved here and had a fortress erected where later the Potala Palace stood. Since then, the town has been the main political and religious center of Tibet, a position heavily fought over with Shigatse. The foundation of the town coincided with the birth of Tibetan Buddhism. After becoming Songtsen Gambo's third wife, the Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti, a Buddhist, founded Jokhang, the oldest temple in town. The importance of this building and of Buddhism further increased, when the Chinese Princess Wen Chang came to the court as Songtsen's fourth wife. Under the great reformer, Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), the Drepung Monastery outside Lhasa became the main seat of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism), and here, too, the institution of the Dalai Lama began. Lhasa kept its historic appearance until the military intervention of Chinese troops in 1959 who forced the 14th Dalai Lama to flee. Apart from a few places such as the Potala Palace and the last remaining parts of the old town around the Jokhang, the town today resembles any other provincial Chinese town.
The famous Potala Palace was the political center of Tibet and residence of the Dalai Lama. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These gardens, situated 4km/2.5mi away on the western edge of the city, are the most frequented park in Lhasa. It is part of the Dalai Lama's summer residence, construction of which began in the 1840s, although the buildings to be found there today date for the most part from 1954-56.The 360,000sq.m/90acres of parkland encompass everything from grand palaces and every possible kind of pavilion to pergola and small lakes.
Temple of Tsuglagkhang (Jokhang)
The Temple of Tsuglagkhang, mostly known as Jokhang, in the center of the city is the oldest place of worship in Tibet, and the destination of a continuous stream of pilgrims. Although it was probably built by the Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti, Songtsen Gampo's third wife, it is more commonly associated with the name of Wen Chang. Wen Chang arrived in Lhasa soon after Bhrikuti and brought with her the figure of the 12-year-old Buddha Shakyamuni which today is the main treasure in the temple and enjoys great devotion. The present-day statue, however, is thought to date from the 12th C. A large part of the works of art in the temple - amongst them the statues of Songtsen Gampo and the two Princesses - did not survive the Cultural Revolution. On show today are mostly replicas made in recent years. The fantastic murals depicting the history of the building of Jokhang are worth mentioning.The holy Transformation Path runs in a circle around the Jokhang. Every day, a large Pilgrims' Market is held here and on the recently built forecourt, which is mainly visited by the large numbers of pilgrims that come to Lhasa. The selection of goods on offer is large and still rather exotic, including felted hats, colorful cushions, prayer flags, various pieces of jewelry, saddles for horses, food, clothes and antiques. Some of the produce hails from the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim.
Another important religious building is the Ramoche Temple, built in the 7th C. After being devastated on several occasions, it was finally renovated in the 1980s.
There are several attractions in the Lhasa surrounding area.
Drepung Monastery is located on a hillside 10km/6mi northwest of Lhasa. It was built in 1416 in the typical Tibetan style by adherents of the Yellow Cap Order (Gelupka) and became the political center of the sect, with four Buddhist seminaries being housed here. The sacred buildings, which can accommodate up to 8000 monks, form the largest Lamaist monastery in Tibet. The burial stupas of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dalai Lamas are to be found here.To the southwest of the monastery lies the palace, dating from 1530, in which the Dalai Lama resided.The nearby monastery of Nechong was the seat of the Tibetan state oracle.