Updated: 2014-07-11 07:01
By Bidisha Bagchi (China Daily)
Jokhang Temple is regarded as one of the most sacred temples in Lhasa. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet autonomous region, is a city of palaces, monasteries, temples and museums.
Our exploration started with the Potala Palace, the biggest attraction for most visitors. We had the entry tickets for morning. There's a restriction on the number of visitors that are admitted daily, and we had to reach the gate on time. As we waited, we watched hundreds of people with small prayer wheels in hand walking around the palace. It was a sort of pilgrimage for them and a daily activity.
As we entered the palace, a flight of steps lay in front of us. Actually, I would not call them stairs because they are more like huge blocks of uneven stones laid down to resemble stairs.
No liquid is permitted inside. After the massive task of climbing up the steep incline, we found a water vendor.
Photography is strictly prohibited anywhere inside this gorgeous ancient palace. We went around the two structures of the palace - red and white. Religious activities, prayers and meetings were held in the red part whereas the white part was the Dalai Lamas' residence for centuries.
Inside the palace there are hundreds and thousands of manuscripts and idols of different avatars of Buddha, religious scholars and kings. The tombs of the Dalai Lamas are also kept here - huge gold caskets adorned by precious stones worth millions of dollars.
Very close to the Potala Palace is the summer residence of the Dalai Lamas - the Norbulingka. The lovely gardens and the smaller temples make a pretty sight. Everything is serene and pristine - it feels like summer in a place that sees very harsh winters. It is easy to walk around the palace but there are also small battery-operated carts available to take anyone around the palace.
A short trip to the Tibet Museum was worth the visit. The place has hundreds of artifact - some about 1,000 years old. Textiles, carvings and the lives of local people are all showcased.
After the herculean task of climbing up and down the steep levels, hunger pangs beckoned. I was keen to try Tibetan cuisine. We stopped at a well-known eatery to sample some of the regional and local delicacies.