Barkhor Street, Lhasa

Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street              Bookmark and Share

The Barkhor is an area of narrow streets and a public square located around Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet.The Barkor was the most popular devotional circumabulation for pilgrims and locals. The walk was about one kilometre long and encircled the entire Jokhang, the former seat of the State Oracle in Lhasa called the Muru Nyingba Monastery, and a number of nobles' houses including Tromzikhang and Jamkhang. There were four large incense burners (sangkangs) in the four cardinal directions, with incense burning constantly, to please the gods protecting the Jokhang.Most of the old streets and buildings have been demolished in recent and replaced with wider streets and new buildings. According to the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet, these modifications were performed by Chinese authorities to control political demonstrations, as the narrow streets allowed Tibetans to escape police gunfire.

Vender at the Barkhor Street

Vender at the Barkhor Street

The Barkor became touristic in the 80', and it therefore became the place of demonstrations of Tibetan monks and nuns requesting Freedom for Tibet. This is where Ngawang Sangdrol, Phuntsog Nyidron and Ngawang Phulchung were arrested after their demonstrations. During the 2008 unrest in Tibet, a demonstration happened March 11, and after the monks were beaten by the police forces, riots have burst in Lhasa and buildings of the Barkhor were burned by rioters.

Tourists' Review

Barkhor Street and the Old Town area of Lhasa is the most lively, inviting, and cozy section of the city. It is a very large area, involving many streets and alleys, hundreds of store fronts and street vendors, music playing, pilgrims making their way to the temples, people praying in front of the temples, and many cute and very local restaurants to go with some touristy ones. During our visit, locals outnumbered tourists about 50 to 1, which was nice, and unlike other street markets in Asia, none of them were screaming at us, harrassing us, or grabbing us, pulling us into their stands - they just sat chilling out watching the world go by.

Local passengers at the Barkhor Street

Local passengers at the Barkhor Street

You can find pretty much anything Tibet here, so if you want to go shopping, this is the place in Lhasa. You can find everything from Yak Wool Blankets to Tibetan Buddhist relics. There are restuarants you can sit on the roof and watch people go by. We felt very safe here - there were police and security guards all over the place, even standing on the rooftops, keeping an eye out for any no-gooders, of which we saw none. I think pickpockets or street thiefs would have to be crazy to do their dirty deeds here with that amount of security.

This is a very cozy area, you can spend hours just walking through it.