Lhasa, Tibet: Temples, Pilgrims & Palaces

Lhasa kept giving me everything but the dizzying altitude had sent me sick, waking up with what felt like a hangover and a nosebleed I hadn't paid all that money to rest! Dosed up with a handful of un-named tablets and a bottle of oxygen I was set for the final day of discovery. I held it together as Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street and the Potala Palace awaited. Oh, I loved Lhasa!

I had almost stumbled upon Barkhor Street during my first day in Lhasa, Tibet whilst on my incense shopping mission, saving the rest of it for another morning I had found a sight never to forget. Fashioned in a true Tibetan style those Barkhor Street shopfronts set the scene effortlessly, acting as a cure for my altitude sickness I was living for the atmosphere and energy felt during that Lhasa morning. I adored the feeling of old time crazy that could be felt in the air, the elder Tibetan pilgrims may have hobbled along with all their might but they were on a spiritual mission! Of course, I was impressed by the fluttering Tibetan prayer flags that fluttered above the buildings along Barkhor Street. This Lhasa hotspot was supposed to be on the itinerary but I found with the extensive free time between seeing Jokhang Temple and the Potala Palace it wasn't difficult to get what I wanted from that buzzing street!

I noticed during the morning a circular clockwise motion was adopted by all, a certain direction had to be adopted the pilgrims, apologies Lhasa I walked in the opposite way at times. I'm sorry! After leaving the hotel after breakfast we took a side street, that alley led us away from the main Beijing East Road to Barkhor's inner heart it was like a holy tributary of alleys that led to a huge square, within that square the sky couldn't get any bluer with the odd cloud floating by I had the perfect photo opportunity. What was that spinning all around, people had their prayer wheels close to hand, acting as another magical sight that Barkhor Street served to me. I was more than living for Barkhor Street, not soaking enough in during the morning I headed back down through one of the alley ways from my hotel to recapture the chilled pandemonium that was occurring in the heart of Lhasa's old city. Don't pay attention of what people might say, those checkpoints are fine! Honestly!

Stepping into a darkened courtyard gave me my first taste of Jokhang Temple, one of Lhasa's main highlights I was looking forward to see what all the fuss was about. making our way into the temples inner shrines it was another attack on the senses for all the right reasons, the infusion of colours and sheer detail of the figures took my breath away for sure! I adored the golden figures of the Tibetan Buddhas, their feminine like faces shone with a golden glow, with eye brows on-point and hair so blue it must of been more like Indigo! Showcasing more than two hands those golden figures gave judging stares to maybe ward away evil spirits but I definitely share a facial expression as cutting as theirs was! I had heard whispers before visiting Tibet about Princess Wencheng, displayed in modest fashion in the temple I'm sure she was the temptress during her time. I got completely lost in the beauty of Jokhang's inner corners. Yes!

Leaving those fierce looking Buddhas behind us, we stepped back into the light, giving us the chance to see the rich tones of Jokhang's upper levels and the views over Barkhor Street that gave a Birdseye view of the legendary Potala Palace. Looking for something nice for my best one I was shocked at the price they wanted for a small bracelet, that was a no! I appreciated the golden rooftops of the that glittery Lhasa temple, mixed with a maroon brown and terracotta red style I was in the right place at the right time, my Tibet trip had showed me so much up till that point but Jokhang Temple gave me a picture postcard view of Lhasa within a pocket of tranquility. Snapping away like nobody's business I gazed over the bustling Barkhor Street, the hurrying of the pilgrims looked amazing from that minor height. Leaving the best feature till now I wasn't expecting to see the Potala Palace until that afternoon but from the right it stood with purpose, I was living in a dream LXA! Tibet was terrific!

Passports ready, it was time for the final part of my Tibet trip to commence. I believe the best has been saved till the very end, known as the home of the long line of the Dalai Lama's the Potala Palace stood before me. Concurring my second Chinese Yuan note, I stood at the foot of the Potala Palace with a 50 Yuan bill as it depicts the regal Potala Palace, after Hangzhou's 1 Yuan discovery along West Lake I wasn't doing too badly for 2017's travel accomplishments! Ascending upwards 700 ft to the top entrance at the right side of the palace the altitude change had me feeling strange, taking some deep breaths of the already thin air I made it to that point of safety. That moment felt very real, the nature of the Potala Palace meant things were pretty rustic with no lifts or even banisters it was a right old experience from the bottom to the top! The clouds knew to make a swift exit, my Potala Palace visit was flawless!

Adhering to our time slot we made our way from the rooftop courtyard to the red part of the palace to see the heart of the Potala Palace. The status of the Potala Palace sounded like a mysterious, shrouded in secrets galore but we were allowed to see inside one of the non-restricted parts without any problems. The rest areas of the former Dalai Lama's were exquisite, adorned with soft furnishing and a chilled overall feel it felt like a special place. Bestowed with UNESCO World Heritage status, I could have easily lived within those pockets of calm within the Lama's former quarters, they were so opulent. From its strong yet magical appearance to its soft and spiritual inner core I couldn't get over what the Potala Palace showed me during that unforgettable weekend. Returning to Barkhor Street for one more time I ditched the hype to enjoy one last milk tea in a simple Lhasa tea-house. It may have broke me financially but my trip to Lhasa, Tibet was sure worth every last Yuan! It was T!

Living For Lhasa! 

Joseph Harrison 


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