September 1, 2009

 

 

On the slope of the wuze Hill in Genbei five kilometers northwest of Lhasa, the Drepung Monastery was built in 1416 and is the largest of the monastery of the Gelug Sect. It covers and 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 Fifth Dalai Lama lived here before he moved to Potala Palace. It houses plenty of historical and cultural relics and Buddhist classics. In the exciting Shoton Festival, “Sunning the Buddha” by the monastery has been one of the most magnificent religious activities in Tibet.Every year in early August, Tibetans celebrate their major festival – Shoton, the Yogurt Festival. The most important event of this festival – Giant Buddha Show is held in Drepung Monastery.

September 1, 2009

 

Norbulingka, meaning ‘Treasure Park’ in Tibetan, is situated in the western suburb of Lhasa City, at the bank of the Kyichu River, about one km (about 0.6 mile) southwest of Potala Palace. The garden covers an area of 360,000 square meters (about 430,000 square yards), with 374 rooms inside. It is the biggest man-made garden in Tibet Autonomous Region.
Construction began in the 1740s. The area used to be wasteland with wild animals, weeds and scrub which the Seventh Dalai Lama liked and often visited, and, as a result, the Qing magistrate had a palace built. Years later, Kelsang Potrang was built by order of the Seventh Dalai Lama. Later it was used as the Summer Palace for successive Lamas, where they solved the political problems and held festive celebrations. After a series of expansions and renovations, the appearance was improved with potrangs, pavilions, gardens and woods. It has now been turned into a park open to the public.

 

 

 
Norbulingka consists of several palace complexes, such as the Kelsang Potrang, Tsokyil Potrang, Golden Linka and Takten Migyur Potrang. Each palace complex is divided into three sections – the palace section, the section in front of the palaces and the woods.
Norbulingka both reflects the ethnical, religious features of the Tibetan people and embodies the architecture style of inland China. It is of great cultural value and was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2001 as an extension of Potala Palace.

September 1, 2009

 

 

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.
Sera is famous for its “Buddhism Scriptures Debating”: monks can be seen preparing for monastic exam by staging mock debates in the ritual way. Some sit cross-legged under the trees, while others run from group to group giving vigorous hand-claps to end a statement or make a point. Master and dignitaries sit on the raised tiers when a real exam takes place.
Sera in Tibetan means Wild Rose Garden since opulent wild rose woods once grew around it. A legend said Tsong Khapa and his two disciples once proceeded religious cultivation around. One day, they heard horse whinnying underground when they were taking a walk in the rose woods. A statue of Hynagriva (a horse-headed demon-god) was dug out then. Tsong Khapa started to build the monastery to enshrine Hynagriva. However, the truth is that in 1414, Jamchen Chojey (or Sakya Yeshe), one of Tsong Khapa’s disciples, on behalf of Tsong Khapa, visited Emperor Chengzu, who granted him a title of Dharma King of Great Mercy as well as sutras and a set of sandalwood Arhats. In order to preserve them, Tsong Khapa suggested Jamchen Chojey to build a monastery to house these treasures. Then Sera monastery was set up in 419.

September 1, 2009

 

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.Potala consists of the White and Red palaces with more than 1000 rooms. The white places was for secular use. It contained living quarters, offices, the seminary and the printing house. The red Palace’s function was religious. It contained gold stupas, which were the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas, the monks’ assembly hall, numerous chapels and shrines, and libraries for Buddhist Scriptures.With its world-wide reputation, the Potala stands on the Red Hill overlooking the Tibetan city of Lhasa as a major national cultural monument under special protection by the government of the People’s Republic of China. The name of the large sacred Buddhist building complex is a derivation from Samskrit Potalaka which is the mythical mountain abode of Avalokitesvara, one of the Bodhisattvas (Buddhist saints). In this connection Lhasa is popularly referred to as Second Mount Potalaka.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. Built against the terraced slope of the hill, the structures combine to from a huge sky-scraping mass, reminscent of the divine realm above the mortal world. The granite walls elaborately decorated with soft white thatch, the golden roofs decorated with big gilded bottles, the splendid curtains and banners, join to form a unique structural wonder bearing the striking colors red, white and yellow characteristic of Tibetan architectural art, making the Potala an eminent example of a constructive technology traditionally Tibetan and Chinese.As the winter residence of the successive Dalai Lamas, the Potala formerly served as the center of local Tebetan theocratic rule, hosting the major religious and political ceremonies since the reign of Dalai Lama V (1917-1682), at the same time housing the relics of those spiritual leaders.The earliest project for the Potala started in A. D. 631 under Tibetan King Srang00brtsan-sgam-po (617?-650), which included 999 royal rooms plus a meditation chamber. That building was eventually destroyed by thunderbolts and wars.Dalai Lama V, in his effort to consolidate his theocracy, entrusted in 1645 Bsod-glan-rab-den, his minister, with the rebuilding of the portion known as the White Palace of the Potala and also the enclosures, towers and turrets. When the project was completed, the patriarch moved his government to the new building from Bras-spungs Monastery.
Later in 1690 Prime Minister Bsam-rgya-mtsho enlarged the Red Palace as a part of his project to build Dalai Lama V’s stupa-tomb. The extension was eompleted in 1693, which was to be followed by new projects sponsored by later Dalai Lamas, including 5 golden roofs and a number of accessory structures.The Potala assumed its present form and scale in 1936 when Dalai Lama XIII’s (1870-1933) stupa-tomb was completed.
The main portion of the Potala contains the White Palace and the Red Palace.The 7-storey White Palace, Dalai Lamas’ winter residence, also housed the former local Tibetan government. There the most spacious hall, the eastern Audience Hall (Sishe Phuntsok) occupies a central area of 717m on the 4th floor. It was there that the Dalai Lamas were enthroned as supreme Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader and the region’s temporal ruler.
The 5th and 6th floors bore government offices and rooms for the officials.Two particular apartments on the top floor, reserved for the Living Buddhas, were known as Eastern and Western Sunshine Apartments for their long access to sunlight.In constrast with the White Palace, the Red Palace consists mainly of the supreme primates’ stupa-tombs and the shrines.Of the 8 stupa-tomb halls, the most magnificent is that for the cult of Dalai Lama V. To the west his memorial hall, the Western Audience Hall, covers 725m to be the largest hall in the Potala. Of the extensive murals there the most notable one shows the patriarch’s audience with Chinese Emperor Shunzhi (reigned 1644-1661) in Beijing.A tablet overhanging the patriarch’s throne bears a Chinese phrase meaning literally “The Source of Lotus Flowers” written by Chinese Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) himself. The phrase is a metaphoric reference to the Buddhist paradies. The Dharma-raja’s Cave (Chogyal Dupup) and several other apartments dating back from the reign of the Tu-bo Dynasty (629-846)are the earliest Potala structures extant. They house a valuable collection of statues, including the sculptural representation of King Srang-brtsan-sgam-po, his consorts Princess Wencheng and Princess Khri-btsun and his prime minister Blon-stong-btsan-po.As the most elevated hall in the Red Palace, “The Best of the Three Realms” (Sasum Namgyal) accomodates the image of Chinese Emperor Qianlong and the statue of 11-face avalokitesvare cast in more than 10,000 ounces of silver as commissioned by Dalai Lama XIII. The remains of that spiritual leader are preserved in a stupa in the neighboring hall. Construction of that hall, begun in 1933, was not completed until three years later. Thus it is the newest hall in the whole complex.
Subordinate constructions to the Potala include the Lam-rgyal Abbey, the Senior Seminary, the monks’ dormitories and the eastern and western courtyards on the hill, while at the foot of the hill stands the houses once occupied by the local government bureaus and institutions, the printing press for Buddhist canonical writings as well as a jail, the stables and the backyard garden.
Through more than 300 years the Potala has accumulated an enormous collection of monuments and relics. There are murals covering totally more than 2,500m, nearly 1,000 stupas, about 10,000 statues and as many thang-ka paintings, the religious library there includes puttra-leaf scriptures and the Bka’-‘gyur (Buddhas’s Teachings) volumes.There are also a unique collection of golden diplomas and jade seals granted to successive Dalai lamas by Chinese Ming (1356-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) emperors to re-affirm the official ties between the local Tibetan administration and the central Chinese government. And the gold and silver artifacts, porcelain vessels, enamelwork, jade ware, brocade and other handicraft articles preserved in the Potala are enormous and richly diversified.The beauty and originality of its architecture, its ornate decoration and its harmonious integration in a striking landscape add to its historic and religious interest.

September 1, 2009

Located in the center of the ancient city of Lhasa, the Jokhang Monastery 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 Nepalese architectural styles, as well as a man – made world outlook of Buddhism. With the Hall of Amitayus Sutra as its center, the monastery symbolizes the nuclear to the universe. The Hall of Sakyamuni is the essence of the monastery.
Jokhang is the spiritual center of Tibet, the Holy of Holies, the destination of millions of Tibetan pilgrims. Unlike the lofty Potala, the Jokhang has intimate, human proportions, bustling with worshippers and redolent with mystery. The outer courtyard and porch of the temple are usually filled with pilgrims making full-length prostration towards the holy sanctum. Its innermost shrine contains the oldest, most precious object in Tibet – the original gold stature of Sakyamuni – the historical Buddha, which Princess Wen Cheng brought from Chang’an 1,300 years ago.
It was said that Nepal Princess Tritsun decided to build a temple to house the Jowo Sakyamuni aged 12 brought by Chinese Princess Wencheng. Princess Wencheng reckoned according to Chinese astrology that the temple should be built on the pool where the Jokhang now locates. She contended that the pool was a witch’s heart, so the temple should be built on the pool to get rid of evils. The pool still exists under the temple. Then goats were used as the main pack animals, as is the reason the city is called Lhasa. The construction took 12 months. However it was originally small and had been expanded to today’s scale in later dynasties. When the Fifth Dalai Lama took reign, large-scale reconstruction and renovation had been done. The temple is a combination of Han, Tibetan and Nepalese architectural techniques. Visitors will see sphinx and other sacred sculptures.
Every year, the Great Prayer Festival will be held in the Temple. The rites of Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas’ initiation into lamahood are also held in the monastery.

 

 

September 1, 2009

Located in the old area of Lhasa City, Tibet, Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple and the Tibetan people are always proud of it. As a symbol of Lhasa, this street is also a must-see place for the tourists.

 
It’s said that in 647, the first Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo (617 – 650) built the Jokhang Temple. Due to its magnificence, 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 walk clockwise there from dawn to dark. Also you can see some pilgrims walking or progressing body-lengths 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.
For tourists, Barkhor Street is a magical place showing the original outlook of Lhasa. The street was paved by hand-polished stone boards. Though it is not broad, it accommodates thousands of tourists every day. Varied shops stand on both sides of the street and thousands of floating stands are on every corner. Most of them offer the prayer wheels, long-sleeve ‘chuba’ (the Tibetan people’s traditional clothes), Tibetan knives and some religious articles for sale. Furthermore, some shops sell ‘Thangka’ (the Tibetan scroll painting), which is a unique art of Tibet with the themes of religion, history, literature, science and customs. Surprisingly, there are some articles from India and Nepal in this street as well.
To sum up, Barkhor Street is a place full of religious atmosphere and a world of exotic articles. If you have been attracted by it, you should go there. Believe your eyes, and you will get a lot of surprise there.

September 1, 2009

Lhasa, the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, has a history of more than 1,300 years. It is the political, economic, cultural and transport center of the region. Lhasa covers an area of close to 30,000 square km. It has a downtown of 544 square km and a population of 400,000; 140,000 of its people live in the downtown area. Lhasa is home to the Tibetan, Han, and Hui peoples, as well as many other ethnic groups, but the Tibetan ethnic group makes up 87 percent of the total population. Lhasa has beautiful scenery. The Lhasa River, known as the “merry blue waves,” runs through the snow-covered peaks and gullies of the Nyainqentanglha Mountains, extending 315 km. The river empties into the Yarlung Zangbo River at Quxu, forming a scenic wonder that features blue and white water waves. The ancient city of Lhasa stands by the Lhasa River. Inside the city towers the Potala Palace. The city features a combination of traditional and modern things, including prayer wheels and computers.Located at the bottom of a small basin surrounded by mountains, Lhasa has an elevation of 3,650 meters and sits at 91’06E and 29’36N, the center of the Tibet Plateau. Blessed with flat land and mild weather, Lhasa is free of frigid winters and unbearably hot summers, having an annual average daily temperature of 8 degrees C (43 degrees F). It enjoys 3,000 hours of sunlight annually, much more than all other cities in this regard, giving the city its title of “sunlit city.” Lhasa enjoys an annual precipitation of 500 mm. It rains mainly in July, August and September. The rainy seasons in the summer and fall are the best seasons of the year, when it rains mostly at night, and is sunny in the daytime.