BARKHOR means the middle path of Kora, Lhasa city has three paths of circumambulation, and it is the middle one. Barkhor circumambulation path offers visitors the closest impression of tangibility of being in Tibet. Thousands of pilgrims are making circumambulation, where we can see some monk prostrating across the path. There are thousands of shops selling local products which make it a great place to buy the souvenirs. You will see pilgrims from all over the Tibetan habituated places of China. Walking among these people would give you a great sense being out of our own livelihood, makes you forget all the agony of the modern world by soothing of beautiful smiles and scent incense offerings which fills every corner of the street. Normally we let our guest explore this part of town by their own self for self-discovery. It’s best to let you flow with the tide of pilgrims circumambulating.
While you are walking in the Barkhor, you must be little aware of the house and structures you will see. The main structure in Barkhor is the Jokhang Temple. This temple was built during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo to house the statue of Buddha at the age of 12, brought into Tibet by the Nepalese princess as a dowry at her marriage to the Songtsan Gampo. Later after the death of the Songtsan, Princess Wencheng who also married the same king, swap the statue to protect the statue she brought in Tibet for the same reason. Her’s is the statue of Buddha at the time of Achieving Nirvana.
There is a stone Stele in front of the temple in the shadow of a tree, the stone stele erected in the year 1793 to commemorate the Smallpox victims. The willow tree which is shadowing the stele is planted by the Chinese queen of Songtsan Gampo. It is known as the hair of Jowo (the Buddha statue in the temple). At the northern side of the tree, there is a stone pillar, that is the Sino Tibetan treaty of alliance in year 822 AD.
While you are walking on the path, its advisable to walk in clockwise, as all the pilgrims walk in that direction and it is easier and locals will appreciate your gesture in accept our way of life and tradition. while on the path you will find some other temple and old buildings.
Barkhor is full of small temples representing the different school of Tibetan Buddhism and house owned by many Tibetan noble family. I would ask every visitor to try to find the center of Barkhor street. that is a very old structure, not much people will be there so it quite.
Please note that There will be numbers of alms seekers, people prostrating the circumambulation, the pilgrims walking real fast to count the number of circumambulation there make in the day before returning home. I hope visitor will keep this in mind before making any judgment on the path.
Attractions in Barkhor market
On the northern side of the circuit is the resident of the representative of central government in old Tibetan society before the peaceful liberation. The area is known as Tromzikhang. But if you ask local about the place using this name they would direct you to the new Tromzikhang which is a wholesale market. but ask them where the Amban museum is? The house is a museum now and this gives you the opportunity explore the relationship between the Central government and the local government of Tibet. You will also get a glimpse of some old of Tibet which is not frequent outside. and the house, the architecture of Tibetan.
On the western side of Jokhang temple, there is a museum dedicated the Buddhist reformist monk Gendün Chöpel. In the museum, you will see lots of his artwork, books, and his belongings. He is a very popular Tibetan reformist, popularly known as the crazy monk in the same street you are wondering today. He is an active member of Tibet Improvement Party which it was a revolutionary, anti-feudal, anti-religious, anti-imperialist, and pro-Republic of China political party in Tibet. Due to his involvement in this party, he was subjected to brutal punishment by the nobles of Lhasa and eventually lead to his death.
The path is must walk once when you are in Tibet. This path will be the delighted experience you will have in Tibet.