Lhasa means holy land in Tibetan. On the northern bank of Lhasa River, a tributary of Yarlungtsanpo River, it is 3,650 meters above sea level. It is famous for its long history. Lhasa is also famous as a city of sunshine for its sunshine of more than 3,000 hours a year. It is the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region and is a political, economic and cultural center of the region. It boasts many historical sites and scenic spots both in its urban areas and outskirts.
The Potala Palace
The Potala was the place of the Dalai Lama. It was originally built in the 7th century by King Songtsan Gampo and rebuilt to the present size by the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Its 13-story main building is 117metershigh and is composed of the Red and White Palaces, with the red one in the middle. The main building consists of the Halls of Stupas of Dalai Lamas from various historical stages and halls of Buddhist statues. The White Palace is the residence of the Dalai Lamas and places for handing political affairs. The Potala Palace houses great amounts of rare cultural relics including the Pattra-leaf scripture from India, Bak¡¯gyur and the imperial edicts, golden seals and titles of nobility granted by the Qing emperors to the Dalai Lamas.
Located in the center of the ancient city of Lhasa, the Jokhang Temple was built in the seventh century by Songtsan Gambo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng and Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti. Its four-story main building demonstrates a combination of the Han, Tibetan, Indian and Nepaless architectural styles, as well as a Mandala world outlook of Buddhism. With the Hall of Amitayus Sutra as its center, the temple symbolizes the nucleus of the universe. The Hall of Sakyamuni is the essence of the temple.
On the slope of the Wutse Hill five kilometers northwest of Lhasa, the Drepung Monastery was built in 1416 and is the largest monasteries of the Gelug Sect. It covers an area of 250,000 square meters. In its heyday, it had more than 10,000 monks. The monastery has trained a large group of talents for Tibetan Buddhism. The 15th Dalai Lama lived here before he moved to the Potala Palace. It houses plenty of historical and cultural relics and Buddhist classics. In the exciting Shoton Festival, ¡°Sunning the Buddha¡± ceremony held in the monastery has been one of the most magnificent religious activities in Tibet.
At the foot of the Wuze Hill in Sera to the north of Lhasa, the Sera Monastery is one of the three great monasteries in Lhasa and one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug Sect of Buddhism in Tibet. It was built by one of disciples of Zonggaba in 1419. On 27th of the 12th month of the Tibetan calendar, the monastery holds the grand Sera Bungchen Festival, which attracts flocks of Buddhists and others.
Located in the northern part of the old city of Lhasa, the Klukang Monastery was built in the mid-seventh century. It was damaged and rebuilt several times. The monastery houses many murals and the statues of Sakyamuni, Maitreya and others. The main hall houses a gilded fill-length statue of the eight-year-old Sakyamuni brought to Tibet by the Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti. The monastery is the location of the Tantric College of the Gelug Sect in Tibet.
In Dangze County 60 km to the east of Lhasa, it is one of the three great monasteries in Lhasa and one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug Sect. Gandain means happiness and contentedness in Tibetan. The Gandain Monastery was built in early 15th century under the supervision of Tsonggaba, the founder of the Gelug Sect. The main buildings include the Coqen Hall, the Chamber of Tsonggaba and the College of Yangbajian.
Barkor Street is a shopping street around the Jokhang Temple. Being 500 Meters long, it is also a way along which the pilgrims walk around the monastery while turning prayer wheels in their hands.
Norbulingka means a lovely garden in Tibetan. Located in the western suburbs of Lhasa, it has been a palace for the Dalai Lamas to stay to escape the summer heat. It was built in the 1740s and covers an area of 36 hectares. It was once a place of bathing and recuperation of the Seventh Dalai Lama. The Qing minister stationed in Tibet built the first palace here. Since then, the eighth, 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas built their own palaces here too. Continuous expansions in the past 200-odd years have turned it a large-scale and Tibet-style palace complex and garden. On festivals and holidays, the local people in their splendid attires come here with food and tents to sing and dance overnight.
In Damxung County, Lhasa, Yangbajin contains rich geothermal resources and is famous as a geothermal museum. The well-known Yanbajin Geothermal Power Station stands here. It has hot springs everywhere and when the valve is switched on, hot water spurts several meters or even dozens of meters high, constituting a magnificent scene.
Located at the southeast corner of Norbulingka, Lhasa, it is the first modern museum in Tibet. It covers an area of 53,959 square meters and has a floor space of 23,508 square meters including an exhibition area of 10,451 square meters. The museum demonstrates a strict and magnificent traditional Tibetan architectural style. Also it reflects a salient feature of modern architectural art.
The museum houses a rich collection of cultural relics including various kinds of cultural relics of pre-history, handwritten Tibetan classics, colorful Thangka pictures, music and ritual instruments, unique handicrafts and pottery. From the exhibition, the visitors can see the long-standing history and profound culture and art of Tibet.
Outside the exhibition hall are green lawns and shadowy trees. Also there are a performance area for modern cultural and physical activities, a garden of local customs and folk culture and houses. In addition, the museum has a cultural gallery, handicraft shop and other service facilities. It is a good place for people to relax while visiting the exhibition.