Lhasa & Its History

Tibet Quick Fact

 Sitting in the Lhasa River Valley, the central city of Tibet Autonomous Region, and the largest city in the region. The center of Tibetan Buddhism for more than a thousand years, Lhasa not only houses the most important temple in Tibetan Buddhism, but houses the Great Three monasteries of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Literally meaning the “Place of the Gods”, Lhasa is a city full of wonders, with the stunning red and white Potala Palace towering high above the city on its Red Hill, while the sacred Jokhang Temple in the middle of the city is the most popular place of Buddhist Pilgrimage in Tibet.
The first stop of any Tibet tours, Lhasa is an incredible city on the roof of the world that holds many treasures for both tourists and pilgrims alike, and is one of the most amazing Tibet cities to explore. However, at an elevations of 3,656 meters or  11994 feet, it is not the easiest city to get around for those coming from much lower altitudes. Tibet is a remote region that sits on the world’s highest plateau, fringed by the Himalayan Mountains, and altitude sickness is a common ailment for inbound travelers. And while Lhasa is not actually the highest place in Tibet, it is still high enough to warrant some care in touring the city, especially when climbing the many steps of the Potala Palace.
Altitude aside, Lhasa is one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the world, with over 1,300 years of history and an amazing and unique religious culture. Listed as one of the highest cities in the world, Lhasa saw very little in the way of tourism for many years, since getting to the plateau city was a long and hard drive across desolate lands. Since the opening of the railway in 2006, which linked Lhasa with the Qinghai provincial capital of Xining, the numbers of tourists visiting the city has increased exponentially, with thousands of travelers entering the Tibetan capital every day in the summer months.
Brief History of Lhasa
Tibet has been an inhabited place for more than 20,000 years, with a major migration of people from northern China and Mongolia in around 3,000BC. It was during the unification of the many areas of the plateau by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, who had first united the factions of the Yarlung Valley, that Lhasa became the capital of his empire. It was in around 637 AD when he moved the capital from its previous home in the Chingwa Taktse Castle in Chongye County to the town of Rasa, which lay on the banks of the Brahmaputra River.
The first new structures of the soon-to-be capital of Tibet were the fortress buildings that were erected on the top of the hill in the town, now known as the Red Hill, or Mount Marpori. As the city grew in size, King Songtsan Gampo ordered two temples built, to house the statues of Buddha that had been brought to the city by his two wives, Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal and Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty. The Ramoche Temple and Jokhang Temple were built to house the statues of Akshobhya Vajra (Buddha depicted at age eight) and Jowo Sakyamuni (Buddha depicted at age twelve).
After the fall of the empire in the ninth century, political power moved from Lhasa, although in the 15th century the Gelugpa became the political power in Tibet, and Lhasa once again became an important religious site for more than just the Buddha statues. It also became the center of Tibetan Buddhism, and the legend grew of how Padmasambhava pinned the earth demoness to the ground and erected the foundations of the Jokhang Temple over her heart to bind her forever.
It was in the 15th century, that Lhasa finally rose to full prominence in Tibet, following the founding of the Great Three monasteries of the Gelugpa school by Je Tsongkhapa. Part of a Buddhist revival in Tibet, Ganden monastery, Sera monastery, and Drepung Monastery became the major religious schools in the region. True unification of Tibet came under the rule of the fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, after moving the seat of civil government to Lhasa in 1642, and in 1645, construction began on the new palace for the center of Tibet, the Potala Palace. Built on the former site of Songtsen Gampo’s fortress, parts of which still exist inside the palace, it was completed in 1694.
The Jokhang Temple was also expanded at around the same time, and by the end of the 17th century, the area now known as Barkhor Street became a bustling center of trade and commerce within the city. 
Today, Lhasa is still the dominant city in Tibet. A city of friendly and traditional people, it has become a beacon for Buddhists from all over the world, and the center of Tibetan pilgrimage every winter. Filled with delightful sights from the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple to the wonders of Barkhor Street’s markets and the Tibet Museum, no visit to Tibet could possibly be complete without exploring this mystical city at the roof of the world.
Getting Into Lhasa
There are two main ways to get to Lhasa from China, and a third route from Nepal. From China, you can take a flight from several major cities such as Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Xi’an to the Lhasa Gonggar International Airport. There is also the option of taking the train to the plateau capital, which leaves from seven major gateway cities in China, taking between 22 and 53 hours to reach the Tibetan capital. For Tibet, the train is the most popular, as well as being the cheapest option, mainly due to the stunning scenery that one can see as you travel across the mountain passes and prairies of the Tibetan plateau to the world’s highest capital city, Lhasa.
From Nepal, there exists the only international flight to Tibet, which leaves daily from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport, and flies close over the famous Mt. Everest on its route across the plateau to Lhasa. While flights are often the most popular choice for travel. 

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Tour Including Lhasa

Hotels in Lhasa

Banak Shol Hotel

Banak Shol Hotel is quite famous among the backpackers. It is a hostel with a charming Tibetan-style courtyard. It is a typical Tibetan guesthouse opened in 1984. It is one of the oldest and famous hostel in Lhasa.

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Mandala Hotel

Mandala Hotel is located near the Jokhang temple in the Barko street. It has been provide best service in the town for the guest. There are around 73 beautiful rooms with different features.

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Lhasa Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel

The Lhasa Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel is located in the center of downtown Lhasa. Its in the middle of the Potala Palace Jokhang Temple and Ramoche Temple. Its within 10 minutes walk to the three main spots.

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Snowlands Hotel

Snowland hotel has a supreme location right around Barkor Street. It is no more than 3 minutes to Jokhang Temple by walking. Due to its location a lot of travelers choose to stay here especially the foreign travelers.

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Brahmaputra Grand Hotel

The Brahmpputra Grand Hotel is a luxury five star hotel with the combination of traditional Tibetan architectural style and modern decorative technologies. The hotel is located at Section B Yangcheng Plaza Gongbutang Road Lhasa Tibet.

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Four Points By Sheraton Hotel Lhasa

Standing majestically before the Lhasa River and facing the Jiangsu Roadthe main road in Lhasa the Four Points Sheraton Hotel is just a ten-minute drive from famous Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

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Restaurants in Lhasa

Lhasa Kitchen

It is located right in front of the Jokhang temple and nice place to rest after day sight seeing around the town. The twisted stair case to the second floor has pleasant seating and good views from the windows. Most of the cooks are from Nep

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House of Shambhala Restaurant

The House of Shambhala Restaurant is located at heart of Lhasa city, Tibet. It is one of the best restaurant in Tibet according to the Tripadvisor ranking. House of Shambhala Restaurant serve breakfast, lunch and dinner with different cuisines such as

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Tibetan Family Kitchen

Tibetan Family Kitchen Tibetan family kitchen is located at Lhasa city. The restaurant has two floors with rooftop and It is cozy place with very delicious food. The staffs of Tibetan family kitchen are very polite and they can speak flute English, Ch

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Dunya Restaurant

One of the best places to eat in Lhasa is Dunya restaurant.

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Mayke Ame Restaurant

Mayke Ame Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Lhasa. It is situated on the street of Barkhor and quite near to Jokhang temple as well. If you are tired of strolling in Barkhor Street, you can have a rest there.

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Snowland Restaurant

The Snowland Restaurant is located in Lhasa which is the most popular place in Tibetan Autonomous Region. The restaurant serves a mix of all excellent continental cuisines and Nepali, Indian and Tibetan food are their specialties.

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Must Read Tibet Travel Tips

The million-dollar question everyone wants to know is how do I get into Tibet? Or how to get the Tibet travel permit? It’s never been the easiest place to visit, but if you make your way then it is definitely an experience of once in a lifetime, travel to Tibet Autonomous Region is radically different from the rest of China and a valid Chinese visa is not enough to travel into Tibet. You will also need the Tibet travel permit from the Tibet tourism bureau, and the Tibet travel permit policy changes timely depending on the political climate in Tibet. Moreover, its amazing nature, rich culture and high altitude need a special consideration to make your experiences more pleasant and worry free. So here our Tibet travel experts from Explore Tibet has pinpointed some important guidelines to help you arrange an authentic Tibetan experiences.

Must Read Tibet Travel Tips

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