Lhasa from Potala Roof - J.H. Wittke


We spend two days in Lhasa visiting the incredible religious sites. Visits to the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor pilgrim circuit occupy the first day. The view from the Potala roof of Lhasa is spectacular (left). The growth of Lhasa has been remarkable from less than 3 km3 in 1951 to 25 km3 in 1980. The second day of our visit (July 1st) is the anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party and there are activities all over to commemorate this wonderful event, most involving soldiers in dress uniform. It is a way to get some feeling for the large numbers of PLA personnel in the city, who hitherto have remained in the background. There are elaborate ceremonies in Peoples' Square opposite the Potala. People staffing tables along the streets distribute leaflets in Tibetan and Chinese; many can be found in shreds on the ground. We drive to the Drepung and Sera Monasteries, which are located on the outskirts of Lhasa, and visit the Norbulingka, which is the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace.

Barkhor Square - Anne Barton Wittke

The Barkhor

Barkhor Square (right) is a plaza cleared by the Chinese in front of the Jokhang Temple, the holiest site in Tibet. Many Tibetans and Chinese wander the market in Barkhor Square before the Jokhang or follow the Barkhor pilgrims' route that encircles the building. Video cameras are mounted on the buildings surrounding the square and are used by Chinese security to monitor Tibetan activities in Barkhor Square, presumably to provide a record of those to arrest after any disturbances.

Summer Palace of the 14th Dalai Lama - J.H. Wittke

The Norbulingka

The Norbulingka ("Jewel Park") was the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas. The "New Summer Palace" of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama (left) was completed in 1956-7 but he only inhabited it for two years before going into exile in India after an abortive Tibetan Revolt against the Chinese occupation. The Norbulingka was heavily shelled during the revolt, but has since been repaired as a tourist draw. The New Summer Palace contains a series of rooms in the Tibetan style with ornate wall paintings. There are several reception and audience halls, mediation chambers, bedroom, and a bathroom with Western-style plumbing. A large Russian-made console radio set given to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama by Indian premier Nehru stands along the wall in one room.

Free Tibet!