Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple: Lhasa Days 3 & 4


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May 6th 2017
Published: June 30th 2017
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Great start to Tibet and also starting to get a little more acclimated to the altitude, in hindsight I think the tour was designed in such a way as to do some lighter touring in the first couple of days (with some stairs at the monasteries) before tackling the many steps at the Potala Palace and later on in the week Everest Base Camp...

This day was all about the two major sites here in Lhasa: the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple...neither really needs an introduction, but for the sake of sake the Potala Palace was first built in the 7th century and then rebuilt/added on to by the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century, and became the official residence of each successive Dalai Lama and the center of Tibetan government...the palace consists of two distinct sections: the Red Palace and the White Palace...the Red Palace is dedicated to religious study and prayer, and the White Palace is/was the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, all consisting of over a thousand rooms...

So we arrived to the site after breakfast, and once tickets were arranged we began the slow climb up the many, many stairs to the entrance...slow going but the vistas got better and better with height, great views of the surrounding area at every stop...water is not permitted to bring in with you but found a little stall selling some inside, complete with a visibly excited woman running the booth when I arrived...with the language barrier I couldn't quite figure out what she was going on about, and finally in exasperation she pulled out her phone, sorted through some photos and then showed me a pic of her son and I...what the? Confused me for a moment and then I realized it was the same woman from the tea house we had been at, too funny! She had a mask covering the bottom half of her face so didn't recognize her...

Toured through the palace and saw the tombs of previous Dalai Lamas, including the fifth which was really cool...the palace now is more of a museum than anything, and with not being allowed to take pics it is very hard to convey the grandeur of the place; the size of the stupas and Buddhas, the many relics and scriptures, and the atmosphere in general...it's really cool, and amazing to think of the history and the fact the current Dalai Lama lived here before fleeing to exile...

We exited at the back of the palace and began our descent, all the while presented with great and different views of the area south of the Palace...a large park lay just beyond a lake, where locals could be seen enjoying themselves in paddle boats, dance demonstrations (at least that's what it looked like to me!), exercising or just hanging out enjoying the day...

After a quick stop for lunch it was now time to visit another famous landmark: the Jokhang Temple...also first built in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple is considered by Tibetans to be the most sacred and important temple in Tibet...while not as grand as Potala, it was humming with activity; the pilgrims shuffling around in prayer, the smell of the yak butter from the thousands of candles, and monks going about their business...it was awesome, beginning with prostrations from many pilgrims along the front of the temple, to the buzz of more pilgrims inside and finally to great views of the surrounding area on the roof of the temple...

Went for a bit of a wander after visiting Jokhang, winding our way down crowded narrow streets...Jinba scored some amazing french fries from a street vendor along the way, oh man they were good...slowly made our way back to the hotel; most of the tour agreed to go for a hike the following day which had nothing official planned, K and I decided to skip it so we could sleep in and roam around Lhasa on our own steam...we did however agree to go see a cultural performance that night along with Alex, and every time I go see one of these things I always wonder "why don't I/we do this more often"? It was a bit weird at the beginning as it was only the three of us and three Chinese folks in the theatre, all sitting together in one row! We had a good chuckle about it, but I felt a little bad for the performers as the show was to go on anyway...fortunately another dozen or so folks showed up, but the theatre was pretty empty...Show was fantastic; big song and dance production about the history of Tibet with elaborate sets and costumes...

Following day was our free day, and after bidding adieu to the gang at
Potala PalacePotala PalacePotala Palace

...from the viewing platform...
breakfast we wandered back towards the Potala Palace to check out the lake and park...first stop though was a viewing platform where most of the commercial pics of the palace are taken from, bit hazy so our pics were not nearly as good but still a few good shots...then it was back through security and into the crowd of pilgrims slowly making their way around the palace...

The park was quite nice, and obviously a favourite spot with the locals as it was quite busy on a Sunday afternoon...the lake was beautiful, and the views of the back side of the Potala Palace were quite something as well...stopped at a small temple built on an island in the lake before heading back towards our hotel...

Rest of the day was spent wandering the surrounding area, stopping at a local market and popping into the odd shop...really nice to have some time to ourselves on the tour, especially since the coming days would be spent mostly in a van as we would make our way towards Everest and back...finished our wanderings back at the hotel bar Dunya, great spot and probably the only "sports" bar in Lhasa, great folks
The Gang at JokhangThe Gang at JokhangThe Gang at Jokhang

...with a saucy monk who wanted to be in the pic...took a liking to Kevin...haha...
working and had some fun chats over a Lhasa Beer or two...

(Some photos copyright of Karen C., denoted by (KC)...used with kind permission)


Additional photos below
Photos: 35, Displayed: 26


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First glimpse...First glimpse...
First glimpse...

...of the Potala Palace...
Potala Palace IIPotala Palace II
Potala Palace II

...and a nice view of the daunting stairs...haha...
Hall overlooking the square...Hall overlooking the square...
Hall overlooking the square...

...at Potala...I believe the Dalai Lama would present himself on one of the balconies to address the crowd...
View from Potala IIView from Potala II
View from Potala II

...from the back of the palace...
K and KevinK and Kevin
K and Kevin

...at the back of the Potala Palace...
Times Square LhasaTimes Square Lhasa
Times Square Lhasa

...not quite the same scale as its more famous namesake...
CourtyardCourtyard
Courtyard

...at Jokhang Temple
Lovely K and Potala...Lovely K and Potala...
Lovely K and Potala...

...from the rook of Jokhang Temple...


1st July 2017
Potala Palace

Beautiful
I have seen many photos of this palace, but never realised the scale of it until I saw this photo. I love the calmness of the design, probably helped by all those white walls...
4th July 2017
Potala Palace

Potala..
...on the hill like that it was both striking and serene all at the same time...
1st July 2017

The Barkhor
Wonderful to see pics of one of our favourite places...views over the Barkhor to the Potala from the roof of the Jokhang Temple. We had heard the Chinese since we were there were building a carpark that would impede the circumambulation around the Jokhang and security in the Barkhor was tight. Did you see any evidence of that? Great to see your blog of the delights of Lhasa...one of travels great destinations.
4th July 2017

Carpark?
Fortunately no, we were able to wander around the circuit at both Jokhang and Potala, but security was pretty tight with bag scanners and metal detectors at each entry point...definite a continuous police/army presence though, vans full of riot police were seen a few times and the checkpoints when we left Lhasa were plentiful and well manned...even leaving Lhasa the security at the airport was like none I had seen, they took mine and K's passport for extra verification which was bizarre...shudder to think what's going to happen when the current Dalai Lama passes...thanks for the comment...
1st July 2017
Potala Palace

The Potala
Fabulous
4th July 2017
Potala Palace

Truly is...
...went back a couple times on our own to just admire it and snap as many photos as we could...haha...
3rd July 2017
Potala Palace

Tibet
We were heading to Tibet a few years ago and then there were restrictions that prevented that trip. We long to go. I would love to see this location.
4th July 2017
Potala Palace

What a shame...
...that is too bad, was it extra visa restrictions that popped up? Or the earthquake? Not the easiest place to travel to but well worth it, hope you guys make it happen someday...

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