Another great day in Lhasa. After a rainy night the air was cool and fresh as we left for our last day of sightseeing. Today we visited the Jokhang Temple and the Sera Monastery. The difference being that a Monastery teaches all subjects from religion to geography to science where a Temple focus on mostly religion. Both were great visits as well as seeing more of the people of Lhasa. Again, it is not possible for me to share everything I saw and learned but here is a brief overview.
The Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet. It was built in 647AD and is the oldest temple in Tibet.
Every year, millions of pilgrims make a long pilgrimage to Jokhang. The famous Barkhor Street was initially the way on which the pilgrims prostrated themselves and crawled around Jokhang Temple. Today, Tibetan people still follow this custom, moving clockwise around Jokhang Temple every dawn and dusk. See my video on the main dispatch page of Buddhist Life in Lhasa. As always, the faces tell the story:
The Sera Monastery is in northern Lhasa and is one of three famous monasteries in Lhasa along with the Drepung Monastery and the Ganden Monastery.
The primary hall is the Coqen Hall, which was built in 1710, is a four-story building. We were allowed to take photographs inside the Hall.
An interesting part of a visit to the Sera Monastery is the “Debating Monks” As a part of their study, lamas must participate in debates to further their understanding and then move to more advanced levels of study. The debates in the Sera Monastery are unique among the three famous monasteries in Lhasa. They occur each day and are overseen by the Lamas. I was not sure if this was performance art for the tourist or the real thing. After watching for a while, I think is quite real and intense but still light hearted for some. Please see the video on the main dispatch page.
So back to the question I posed a day or so ago: Is Lhasa a city of legends or is it a modern Chinese city full of commerce and wealth? The answer, I think is both. It is certainly a booming modern city with tall buildings and more under construction. Everyone has mobile phones and the streets are packed at rush hours with new cars. The shopping is good as well.
The Temples and Monasteries hold the past with a firm grip. And the Tibetan people refuse to let go of their past as shown by the throngs praying outside the temples and making offerings inside. Their clothing and timeless faces tell their story so well. It was an honor to visit Lhasa and her people.
The team is doing well, no serious health problem and we are all acclimatizing well here at 11,000'. Tomorrow we are off on the Friendship Highway to Shigatse visiting the Tashilunpo Monastery en route. I will miss my high speed internet connection! Please remember to look at the two new videos on the main dispatch page
Please remember Memories are Everything