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Lhasa Attractions

World-renowned Tibet lies on a snow plateau. The effect of which means a glorious sun set against a dark blue sky, floating white clouds and desolate mountains has earned Lhasa the nickname 'the City of Sunlight'.

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, is located on the north bank of Lhasa River, a sub branch of Yarlung Tsangpu River. Standing at 3,648m above sea level, it gets 3021 hours of sunshine annually and thus also named "Sunlit City". "Lhasa" means "Holy Land" in Tibetan language. Since Songtsan Ganpu, one of Tibetan Kings established his capital here in 7th century, Lhasa has then acted as the center of Tibet politics, economy, culture, transport as well as a sacred place of Tibet Buddhism.

On the way from the Gongkar Airport to Lhasa, you will see a simple but attractive temple north of the highway. A little east of the temple is a giant carved Buddha, Nietang Buddha. The Buddha is a big draw for visitors before they enter Lhasa. Everyone wants their photo taken here with the Buddha.

Surely every traveler must visit the Potala Palace during their trip to Tibet. This palace is sacred in Tibetan people's hearts. Before entering the palace you must show your identification card or passport (in the case of foreign tourists). The entrance ticket should be bought beforehand and for non-Tibetan tourists it costs CNY 100 (Nov.1-Apr.30).

Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet
Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

Another must-see attraction is the Jokhang Temple. It is surrounded by Barkhor Street in the center of Lhasa. Being the spiritual center of Tibet, the temple is richly decorated with Tibetan features. It is where tourists can go to get a real taste of Tibetan culture.

To visit Jokhang Temple, you have to pass through Barkhor Street where you will find many Tibetan people go to chant and sing. For tourists this is also a commercial street with lots of Tibetan artworks and souvenirs and it bustles with visitors from many different countries.

The three main monasteries in Lhasa are also not to be missed. They are Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery.

Sera Monastery is situated in the north of Lhasa City. Sera means "Wild Rose Garden" in Tibetan because lush wild rose woods once grew around it, the monastery is one of the three largest monasteries in Tibet. Located at the northern outskirts of Lhasa, it was built in 1419 AD by Jamchen Choje (or Sakyayeshe), one of the eight disciples of Tsong Khapa who was the founder of Gelugpa Sect. Sera Monastery houses three colleges built in 15th and 16th century respectively as well,and it is famous for the "Buddhism Scriptures Debating".

Drepung Monastery is the largest monastery in Tibet and lies in the west of Lhasa. The Unveiling Ceremony of the giant Thangka of the Buddha is held in Drepung Monastery on the first day of the annually held Shoton Festival. It is the largest monastery in Tibet. At its peak time, there were more than 10,000 monks. It was founded in 15th century at 5km to the western suburb of Lhasa, and once served as the living palace of Dalai Lama before reconstruction of Potala Palace. Here you can find great murals, Buddhist scriptures and crafts.Ganden Monastery is also located in the west of Lhasa. it is the first Gelupga monastery in Tibet (Gelupga is Pachen Lama and Dalai Lama's order). It was founded in 1409 in Taktse County, about 45 kilometers east of Lhasa. There are extremely delicate murals and sculptures. In 1961, it was listed as one of historical relics subject to state protection by the State Council.

In addition to the above-mentioned attractions, there are other sights worth visiting such as Ramoche Monastery (Xiao Zhao Si), Tibet Museum, Mentsekhang (the Tibetan Traditional Hospital), Lhasa Carpet Factory, Chakpori Hill (Yao Wang Shan) and the biggest man-made garden in Tibet, Norbulingka (the Summer Palace), listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2001 as an extension of Potala Palace. Additionally, you can go to Yangpachen, which is about 90 kilometers far from Lhasa City. It gains its fame from the abundant geothermic heat which provides people with much to explore.

All these sights will offer you further insights into the fascinating history, culture and life of the Tibetan people.

Edited by Athena Lee
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