In Tibetan, Lhasa means holy land – the place where the Buddha lives. As the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, Lhasa boasts many historical sites and scenic spots both in its urban areas and outskirts. The Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery, Sera Monastery, Gaindan Monastery and Drepung Temple are well known at home and abroad. Besides the scenic spots, there are also some special things you should do in Lhasa.
1. Say “Tashi Delek” to people with gratitude
Lhasa is home to the Tibetan, Han, and Hui peoples, as well as some other ethnic groups. Of them, 89.7 percent are Tibetans. The local people are simple, philosophical and take things as they are. Their festivals are varied and songs and dances are enthusiastic, illustrating their unique life style.
2. Present khatag
Khatag, mostly in white, is a long piece of cotton, flax, or silk. Among the Tibetan etiquettes, presenting khatag is a most important traditional practice. The Tibetans would raise the khatag above their heads with both hands when presenting it to an elderly or honored one. If a Buddhist goes to a monastery to worship Buddha, he will present khatag to pay his homage to the Buddha as well as to pray for the Buddha’s blessings.
3. Bathe in the sunshine
Lhasa is famous as a “city of sunlight” for its long sunshine time, which is more than 3,000 hours a year. You can bathe in the sunshine in front of the Jokhang Monastery, one of the three eminent monasteries of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
4. Prostrate yourself, like the locals
The 1,300-year-old Lhasa is a birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism. You will see the pilgrims constantly prostrate themselves in the dust outside the Jokhang Monastery; others continuously turn their prayer wheels and chant mantras.
5. Listen to the sutra chanting
When hearing the sutra-chanting sound from the monasteries in the mountains or by the rivers, you will feel that the past time was flowing back slowly.
6. Collect pebbles or tiny stones
Collect pebbles or tiny stones from the holy mountains and lakes, but avoid the mani stones. Usually, Om Mani Padme Hum, is inscribed on these smooth stone plates, pebbles and rocks, hence the name “Mani Stone”. You may find mani stones and mani stone mounds almost everywhere, in monasteries, beside villages, along paths or on mountains. Upon encountering a mani stone mound, Tibetan people circumambulate it clockwise as a prayer offering for health, peace, and protection.
7. Find yourself some time in the sweet tea house, for both relaxing and experiencing life of the locals.
8. Let your minds floating above the clouds in the sky.
9. Smile to strangers.