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Literally translated, Lhasa means ‘place of the gods’, an apt title for a city steeped in clouds and traditional Buddhist lore. Rising almost 3,500 metres above sea level, Lhasa, the capital of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, is one of the highest cities in the world and the former seat of the Tibetan Empire. Religious activity is everywhere, from monks spinning their prayer wheels to aspirants meditating before statues of Buddha.
Surrounded by the Himalayan mountains and the Kyi River, a small tributary of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, Lhasa’s location atop the Tibetan Plateau renders it a place of expansive and otherworldly beauty. Chief among the city’s historic and religious architecture is the Jokhang Temple, considered by many to be the most sacred temple in Tibet. Originally constructed around 642, it is still an important site for Buddhist pilgrimages.Read more
Its architecture represents a fusion of Chinese, Nepalese, and Indian styles, but it remains a uniquely Tibetan place. Jokhang, along with Potala Palace and Norbulinkgka—the summer home of the Dalai Lama—are all a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace. These locations aren’t the only sites of traditional Tibetan Buddhist faith, however. Throughout Lhasa there are numerous Buddhist Monasteries, large and small, where tourists can go to gain a better sense of the Tibet’s profound sense of spirituality.
Lhasa’s commercial side, too, is worth exploring with traditional teeming markets drawing tradesmen and shoppers from the mountains. Tibetan rugs and religious art make particularly vibrant and worthy purchases. After a long day pounding the streets, you can relax with a cold beer at the Lhasa Brewery Company. Established in 1988 and known as The Highest Brewery in the World, The company is the largest producer of beer in Tibet, manufacturing about 85% of all beer consumed in the country.