Barkhor, a circular street at the center of old Lhasa, is the oldest street in a very traditional city in Tibet. It is a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble and tour attraction to which a visit must be paid.
It has been said that in the seventh century Songtsen Gampo, the first Tibetan King (617-650) who unified Tibet area, married Tang Princess Wen Cheng and Nepal princess Tritsun. Later the king built Jokhang Temple to accommodate the Buddhist statues and images, brought to Tibet by the two foreign wives. Due to the temple’s magnificence and holiness, it quickly attracted thousands of Buddhist pilgrims. As a result, a trodden path appeared. That is the origin of Barkhor Street. Today even still many pilgrims hold the prayer wheels to circumambulate along the street clockwise from morning into deep night. Also you can see some pilgrims walking or progressing by body-lengths along the street. Even some of them are teenagers or have experienced thousands of miles; walk to reach this sacred place, the way they express their piety could make you understand the holiness of religion.
You can enjoy several historic sites of interests on Barkhor Street in your Lhasa sightseeing trip. There is a tall colorful pole, around it there are four Dharma-cakra pillars. Those pillars are set up in order to show the dignity of Buddhist rules. The Incense Tower is in the west of Bajiao North Street, each year pilgrims hold a ceremony here to greet the Next Buddha (Maitreya, among the Buddha statue-the one always carries big grin, the one brings good lucks and fortune). Therefore, the prayers and burning incenses activities in this tower is exceptionally high.
Towards the eastside of The Incense Tower, there is an old government office it used to be the government office of Lhasa, in Tibetan is called "Langzi" Chamber. Inside the chamber, the rooms are darkish and horrible and in the old days many were used to locking up prisoners and serfs, now many torturing tools are still in it. Near the tower there is a small street facing north, leading to a Tibetan market called "Chongsaikang", this is the oldest marketplace in Lhasa. Nearby, there is an old 3-storied building, which once the minister's office of the Qing (1644 ~ 1911A.D.) government.
To the east of the Barkhor Street and the Jokhang Temple, there is a 3-story old temple named "Moruningba", the temple was build in Tubo period. The temple still keeps its original style after many renovations. It was said that characters used in Tibetan writing were invented in the temple. In the southeast corner, there is the famous gathering square for teaching scripture named "Songquerang". When having prayers meeting, the Abbot of Gandan Temple named Gandanchiba or the high priest of area will preach here for many days. They will also hold debate about scripture that is the exam of the highest level Tibetan Buddhism.
Barkhor Street, the sacred pilgrim path, is also a marketplace where shaggy nomads, traders, robed monks and chanting pilgrims join together. Clustered shops and stalls sell printed scriptures, cloth prayer flags and other religious vessels, Tibetan decorations, old-style jewelry, snuff bottles, Tibetan Knives, ancient coins, curios, and many tourist novelties from Nepal and India etc.
Travel Tips to the Barkhor Street
1. You should walk in a clockwise direction along the street.
2. It is better not stay too late in the street. Because there are many lanes there, it is easy to lose your way in the evening.
3. Different vendors may sell the same thing at different price. So you’d better ask several vendors and get more information of the articles. Of course, you should also know how to bargain with them.
4. According to the tradition of Tibet, the vendor will give a favorable price to the first customer and the last one in a day.
If you're planning for a Tibet tour package, consider tour lines below:
* 4 Days Tibet Essential Tour
* 4 Days Tibetan Civilization Tour
* 6 Days Mt. Everest Base Camps Experience Tour
China Fact Tours also entertains customized tour packages. Please feel free to contact us.