Barkhor Street - Circumambulation for Pilgrims
Barkhor Street, located in the Lhasa downtown is the popular circumambulation for pilgrims and commercial center. As a public square around Jokhang Temple, it is a polygon, connected by different streets and laneways, with a total length of over 1000 meters. Being “a saint road” in the eyes of Tibetan, you can feel the local spiritual belief by seeing different pilgrims from all over Tibet with different dresses and dialects to pray devoutly along Barkhor Street. Like a miniature of Lhasa, it shows you another aspect of the Tibetan material life. There are an eyeful of fantastic stores and shops along the street to display most characteristic items and commodities, including thangkas, prayer wheels, prayer flags, Tibetan styled clothing, milk tea and more. Barkhor Street is such a great place to buy some souvenirs and suck up the local Tibetan lifestyle.
Barkhor Street Facts
- April to October
- Religious Sites, Historical Sites
- 3650 meters
- Downtown of Lhasa old city
History of Barkhor Street
For over 1300 years of history, Barkhor Street was built along with the Jokhang Temple. It was said during the 7th century, when Songtsen Gampo, the first Tibetan King ordered to build the Jokhang Temple in the Wotang Lake. In order to oversee the progress of project, another four palaces were built at the same time for the King and his concubines to live nearby, which became the first buildings of Barkhor Street.
After the Jokhang Temple was built, there were countless pilgrims gathering to view the magnificent building and pray. Gradually, there was a trodden path around the temple and called the origin of the Barkhor Street. In the latter years, apart from the four palaces, there were more and more buildings shaped constantly, including shops, hotels, restaurants, etc. and the Barkhor Street became more and more prosperous.
Now as the most crowded trading center in Lhasa, the pilgrimage is still the biggest activities here. Pilgrims hold the prayer wheels to walk clockwise there from dawn to dark and some of them perform the body-long kowtows along the road. Being the popular tourist attraction, it tells visitors not only the condition of itself, but also the glorious history of Tibet.
Features of Barkhor Street
As the city center, the Barkhor Street still keeps the ancient Tibetan architectures of numerous stores, well-proportioned along the street sides. Mingled with the devout pilgrims, these characteristic shops stretch far away, like a historical scroll awaiting you to explore more.
Barkhor Pilgrim Circuit
Barkhor Pilgrim Circuit is a typical pilgrimage in Tibet. As one of three important circumambulation roads, Barkhor streets circuit is quite grand, especially in the early morning and at nightfall. Long streams of pious Tibetan pilgrims walk clockwise in Barkhor chanting prayers with their meditation beads, spinning their prayer wheels or performing full prostrations to the hand-polished stone boards to circle the street to worship the Jowo Rinpoche enshrined in Jokhang Temple. Those pilgrims travel far from all over the Tibet, even some other provinces or countries to complete this sacred circuit from morning to night. Here you can view the devoted pilgrims with firmly beliefs and piety toward the religion.
In the Barkhor Street, there are some featured stores worth visiting, like the Magyia Ngami Restaurant. This yellow two-story bar is standing out clearly against a sea of white buildings. Having a good taste of art, there are painting, photograph, and handicraft hanging on the walls. It’s said that here was where the 6th Dalai Lama Cangyand Gyamco had met his lover, and written a poem to praise the pretty young girl, called Magyia Ngami in Tibetan. In the south corn, there is a Xueyu Thangka Craft Store, where you can find some exquisite Thangkas and meet the master to learn some craft skills. In the north direction, the Buddha statues store managed by a Nepalese to sell various kinds of elaborate copper and golden Buddhas, is another must see.
Useful Travel Tips
● With a short distance, you can visit Barkhor Street in the same day before or after the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple Tour. According to the local religious tradition, try to take the clockwise direction to walk along the Barkhor Street. And don’t stroll too late in the afternoon, since there are many narrow lanes along the street and easily to get lost in the dark.
● Shopping in Barkhar Street for some small souvenirs is a good choice with a negotiable price. Different vendors may sell the same thing at different price. So you'd better ask several vendors and get more information of the articles. Of course, you should also know how to bargain with them. If you are lucky to become the first or the last buyer, the store keeper will offer you a discount, according to the ancient customs.
● As for some special items, like Tibetan Medicine, antiques, you should be caution about the price and its value. For Tibetan knives and some heavy or large souvenirs, you may need to mail and before you buy please ask the local retailer how / where to mail it.
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Escorted by a skilled private drivers and companied by a professional local tour guide to organize all the activities, all you have to do is to enjoy your fantastic Tibet journey. Time can never be wasted waiting for a group, hopping on and off buses or negotiating unfamiliar destinations.
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