Experience Landing in Lhasa
We'll be landing in Lhasa — July 3, 2018!
The flight from Chengdu to Lhasa is unforgettable as it passes over the Himalaya and the river gorges of Kham. Arriving at Gongkar Airport, our guides and driver will greet us, and hopefully a few Tsogyal Latso nuns.
From there, it's a 45-minute scenic drive to Lhasa and the lovely Kyichu Hotel, where we can relax, enjoy a meal at the great on-site restaurant (Nepalese and Western fare), enjoy tea or cappuccino in the garden cafe, and begin getting used to the idea that we are in Lhasa!
Buddhist scholar, Stephen Batchelor, describes the origins of this holy city:
"Rasa, the summer capital of the Yarlung Empire, was probably no more than a small town. Its name literally meant “Place of the Goat...the cathedral erected on this site was called the Jokhang ('House that Enshrines the Jowo (i.e. the Buddha)') and the city was renamed 'Lhasa,' which means 'Place of the Gods.' A Tibetan etymology explains the word thus: 'The city is called the Place (sa) of the Gods (lha) because it is as though a lofty realm of the devas had fallen to earth (s a) through the richness of the Dharma.'"
If you feel like exploring, the famous Barkhor surrounding the Jokhang is just a ten-minute walk from our hotel. The Barkhor is fantastic for people watching, mingling with Tibetans and of course, spiritual practice.
Our first morning in Lhasa, we will move slowly, with plenty of free time to have breakfast and adjust. If you would like to explore, possibilities include the Barkhor and circumambulating the Jokhang or just mingling in the streets.
After lunch, we go inside the Jokhang temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the spiritual heart of Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhism. Revered as the most sacred of all temples in Tibet, it houses the Jowo Shakyamuni statue believed to be an image of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. Built by Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal in the early seventh century, the Jokhang was built on an important geomantic site and has undergone continuous renovations through the centuries. We highly recommend you learn more about the fascinating architecture and history of the Jokhang before the pilgrimage.
Later in the day, we will walk to nearby Ramoche Temple, the second most important temple in Lhasa. Founded by Princess Wen Cheng, Ramoche is reputed to be her burial site, which she divined as having a direct connection with the subterranean crystal palace of the nagas. Inside, there is a life-size statue of the eight-year-old Shakyamuni that was brought to Tibet by the Nepalese Princess.
All in all, the first day in central Tibet is out of this world!
Is 2018 your year to experience and connect with the holy temples and sites of Vajrayana?