In the Tibetan language, Lhasa translates as the Holy Land or Buddha Land and definitely lives up to its name. A place of breathtaking beauty and one-of-a-kind sights, Lhasa is also one of the best places in the world for meditation and spiritual travel. Here, surrounded by some of the most spiritually charged and enigmatic spots in the world, you can restore your soul, connect with your inner self, recharge your batteries and discover a face of tourism that has nothing to do with intrusive tourist groups and overcrowded attractions.
Although the economic and political role of Lhasa has decreased over the centuries, the city’s splendid spiritual sights have become all the more intriguing, becoming a true hub for travelers who want to explore their soul while at the same time uncovering the fascinating mysteries of Buddhism and Tibetan history.
The sacred spots of Lhasa to restore your soul
The highlight of Lhasa and one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, Potala Palace is actually ahuge architectural ensemblespanning across 13 stories. Here, you will over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 chapels, 200,000 statues and hundreds of annexes. The building of the Potala Palace started millennia ago, in 637, and over the years, it served as residence for all the Dalai Lama's, starting with the Fifth.
Jokhang Temple is a fascinating and multi-faceted spiritual attraction where Tibetan, Chinese and Nepalese history intertwine, as well as a place of convergence between the Buddhism and the ancient Tibetan religion, Bön.Jokhang Templeis one of the oldest, most sacred and most important Buddhist temples in Tibet and you will also find among the most cherished UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located in the Barkhor market in Lhasa, Jokhang Temple was built in an eclectic architectural style: Indian Vihara, Chinese Tang, and Nepalese.
To the West of Potala Palace lies the serene Norbulingka Palace, the former summer residence of all Dalai Lamas between 1780 and 1959.
This Palace too is featured on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites is known for the vibrant festivities that take place here every summer: Sho Dun, or the yogurt festival, starts in end-July or mid-August right in Norbulingka Park and for a week people enjoy traditional cuisine, dance to Tibetan music and on Lhasa stadium they organize Yak races.
Sera Monasterywas founded 1419 and it is currently the largest monastery-university in Lhasa.
At its peak, it housed 6,000 Buddhist monks, but today only about 550 monks live there. During the Cultural Revolution that took place after 1959, Sera’s colleges were destroyed by the bombs, hundreds of monks were killed and numerous old books and ancient Tibetan artworks were lost forever. Part of the survivors took refuge in Bylakuppe, India, were the Indian Government helped them created a replica of the monastery – at present, about 3,000 monks live here.
Dating all the way back to the 7thcentury, Ramoche Temple occupies almost one acre and is widely considered to be the second most important temple in Lhasa, after Jokhang. However, unlike Jokhang, this “sister temple” was built only in the Chinese architectural style. A splendid spot for pilgrimage and meditation, the Ramoche Temple amazes tourists with its beautifully ornate chapels, intricate pillars and colorful images of the temple protectors.
The original Ramoche temple was burned during the 1959 uprising against Chinese occupation at that time the famous statue Jowo Mikyoe Dorje disappeared. Fortunately, thanks to extensive restoration work and collective efforts to find the statue, the temple was restored to its full glory and can now be visited.
Drepung Monastery is more than six centuries old and covers more than 20,000 square meters, making it the largest monastery in the world and also the one with the highest status among Buddhist monks. Standing out through its unique descending construction on the slopes of Mount Gephel, Drepung Monastery is not only a place for meditation, but also a place to see beautiful cultural relics, bronze statues, green courtyards and the magnificent Entrance Hall.
These are just some of the beautiful spiritual sites you can find in Lhasa, but the Tibetan capital hides many more spots that are just waiting to be discovered. If your spiritual journey to Lhasa helped you find inner peace, or it opened your appetite for visiting other serene locations that promote mindful travel, Lhasa definitely won’t be your only inspirational journey. There are many otherwish fulfilling placesin the world where you can get away from the noise of the city, witness the wonders of nature, admire grandiose temples and monasteries and learn more about the ancient cultures that shaped modern civilization.
From the summits of India to the beaches of Bali, spiritual destinations will help you reconnect with yourself and discover the one purpose of travel that truly matters: become at peace with yourself and become one with the Universe.
This is a blog guest post and The Lemon Tree has approved this piece.