Up in the mountains, on the rooftop of the world, would you not find your soul as you visit the land of the gods?
“The Land of the Gods” is what Lhasa, the traditional capital of Tibet and the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, means in its native dialect. A remote place located 11,975 feet in the center of the Tibetan Plateau, Lhasa is known to be a place with a distinctive air of mystery in its surroundings, so far removed as it is from the rest of China. The fact that the city is largely inaccessible due to its location high up in the Himalayas and the fact that for nearly a thousand years it has been the sacred center of Tibetan Buddhism only add to the mystery and romance of Lhasa.
You do not have to be a Buddhist to enjoy a visit to Lhasa. You can admire Lhasa for the serenity in its atmosphere and for the beauty of its rugged and mountainous landscape. High up in the sky Lhasa is, and staying there for a while will make you feel closer to the gods.
A pilgrimage to the holy wonders of Lhasa will always be the order of the day when you visit there. Your first stop should be the Potala Palace, the official home of the Dalai Lamas as well as the administrative and political center of Tibet. Looking down over Lhasa on top of the Red Hill, the Potala Palace is a sprawl of buildings with over 1,000 rooms and 10,000 shrines. The Potala Palace is most admired for its beauty, described as ethereal, transcendental and unearthly. There are 200,000 statues and innumerable religious and cultural artifacts are housed in the Potala Palace.
The Potala Palace is the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas. In the summer, the Dalai Lamas go to the Norbulingka Palace, just three kilometers away from the Potala Palace. The Norbulingka is magnificent with its gardens, fountains and pools. It is now a popular picnic spot among locals and tourists alike, as well as the site of many festivals such as the Yogurt Festival.
Another important place that you should not miss on your visit to Lhasa is the Jokhang Temple. The Jokhang Temple is a grand structure, the most important place of worship in Tibet. Of all its treasures, the one most valued is the statue of the Sakyamuni, said to be one of only three statues that the Buddha allowed to be made of himself in his lifetime. It was one of the gifts brought by the Princess Wencheng to her future husband, King Songtsan Gampo, the first emperor of Tibet. According to tradition, Princess Wencheng and her co-wife Princess Bhrikuti Devi were the ones who brought Buddhism to Tibet. Their husband the King built Jokhang Temple, around which the city of Lhasa was formed.
The city of Lhasa is a sacred city so close to the sky; you can feel the holiness permeating the air. A spiritual journey awaits you on your visit to Lhasa, and perhaps you will find in your journey that which you have lost and that which you were looking for.
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