- Location: Barkhor Street, Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
- Recommended reason: The most famous circumanbulation and commercial center in Lhasa
- Opening hours: All day for free
As a must-visit destination in Lhasa, Barkhor Street is almost synonymous with Lhasa. Barkhor Street is a well-known circumanbulation and commercial center in Lhasa that completely preserve the traditional appearance and living style of the ancient city. Because of its profound cultural background and time-honored tradition, it was listed as one of the "Top Ten National Historical and Cultural Streets".
History of Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is located in the old town of Lhasa. It was a single circumanbulation around the Jokhang Monastery, and people called "Holy Road". It refers to the middle circle in Tibetan. At dusk, many Tibetans and believers gather in the Barkhor Street simultaneously. They start spinning their prayer wheels and walking around the circle clockwise. A full circle refers to a complete life.
With a history of about 1,300 years, Barkhor Street was built for the Jokhang Monastery in the seventh century. After the 15th century, the Jokhang Monastery became the center of Buddhism transmission, and many Buddhist believers moved to the Barkhor Street. Since then, a great number of shops, houses, hotels, manual workshops and other equipment emerged in the Barkhor Street. In order to pay homage to the Buddha statue of Sakyamuni in Jokhang Temple, Tibetan Buddhists should take the Jokhang Monastery as a circle to make a circumanbulation. It is the origin of the Barkhor Street as "the middle circle".
The Structure of Barkhor Street
In the narrow sense, Barkhor Street is a circumanbulation that is relative to "Lin Kuo" and "Nang Kuo" in the Jokhang Monastery. In Tibetan, Barkhor Street means the middle circle, "Lin Kuo" means the external circle, and "Nang Kuo" refers to the inner circle. In broad terms, Barkhor Street is a prosperous street that integrates religion, sightseeing, culture, commerce, shopping and folk customs. With a perimeter of about one thousand meters, Barkhor Street centers on the Jokhang Monastery, west to the Tibetan Hospital Building, south to the Yanhe East Road, north to the Xingfu East Road, and east to the Barkhor East Road, including 35 alleys.
Barkhor Street retains the original characteristics of the ancient Lhasa. There are many old architectures with the Tibetan style. The street is paved with hand-polished stones. One giant censer is located in the center of the Barkhor Street. An endless stream of pilgrims prays here day and night.
Highlights of Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is a well-known charming historical and cultural street in China. The 29 well-preserved key cultural relics and 56 ancient architectures are the epitomes of the development of Tibetan society down the ages. There are many historical sites along the Barkhor Street, for example, one soaring ancient mast of Songtsan Gambo era called "Jue Ya Da Jin" which means " the offerings to Shakyamuni". According to the local custom, the girls in sixteen will hold a sacred coming-of-age ceremony in front of the mast. One two-storey building stands on No.24, Barkhor North Street is the famous "Palace of Dharma King". It's not only one of the top four palaces, but also the first house in the Barkhor Street. In the north of the white pagoda, there is a three-storey building with a red grass wall on the top. It was the administrative place of the minister of Qing Dynasty in Tibet.
Mulu Ningba, also called the Old Mulu Temple, is located in No.10, Northwest Alley, Barkhor North Street. It was built for the monks and the Lamas who came to the Jokhang Monastery. Another ancient architecture is Tu Ba. Located at the southern end of Zhuanjing Road on Bajiao Street, it was the mansion of the noblest official Tunmi Sangbuzha who created the Tibetan characters. At the end of the circumanbulation of the Barkhor Street, you will see the Songqure Site which holds a very important position in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.
Barkhor Street is also a good place to taste local food and buy some souvenirs. There are all kinds of shops on both sides of the street. Barkhor Street is filled with more than 120 manual workshops, over 200 sales stalls and about 8,000 commodities. It has not only many religious articles like copper Buddha, prayer wheel, butter lamp, etc., but also many daily supplies like apron, harness, Tibetan clothing, highland barley wine, beef jerky, etc. Besides, you can buy some souvenirs with ethnic characteristics, such as Tibetan carpet, Thangka painting, Tibet wool blanket, and so on.
Best time to visit Barkhor Street
You'd better visit the Barkhor Street from March to October.
How to Get to Barkhor Street
♦ The following public buses are available to the Maternal and Child Health Hospital Station the Barkhor Street: No. 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19.
♦ Or you can take the public buses No. 23, 25, 28, 29 and get off at Cuomeilin Station.
Tips for visiting Barkhor Street
♦ Tibet belongs to the high-altitude area. You need to do a health examination and get the doctor's approval before entering Tibet.
♦ The folk custom of Tibet is deeply influenced by religion. Visitors should respect the custom and culture of Tibet. Please be cautious not to offend their taboo.
♦ The architecture in Tibet is built with strong ethnic characteristics. But it is not allowed to take pictures of some buildings. You can consult your tour guide or ask permission before taking photos.
♦ Barkhor Street is a one-way street, so you'd better walk clockwise.
♦ Recommended Tibet Tour: 13 Days China Tibet Tour