Bridges in Lhasa
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Bridges in Lhasa

Update: Jan. 9th, 2013

Ancient Bridge on Niyang River

Tibetan Buddhism influenced every aspect of Tibetans' life, including the construction of their dwellings, monasteries and even bridges. Tibet Tour would like to introduce tourists with several most noted bridges in Lhasa and tourists could try to explore the profound Tibetan Buddhism culture through the Buddhism elements used in the construction of the bridges.

Bridges in Lhasa – the Ancient Colored Glaze Bridge

The construction of the bridges in Lhasa is closely related to the construction of the monasteries. The bracket style bridge was constructed on the principle of the upright semi-arch style monasteries. The Colored Glaze Bridge, also noted as Yutuo Sangba is an ancient Tibetan style bridge which integrated a serious of Tibetan Buddhism features. The beams of the bridge were sculptured with auspicious clouds and lotus flowers, which are the most symbolic patterns of Buddhism. Tourists pay a visit to Yutuo Bridge would also find the Three Treasures which represent the right on the glazed tiles. The Three Treasures refers to the Buddhism, rules and lamas.

The construction of the steel cable bridges in the counties and towns also imitated the construction of the monasteries. The chains and cables were said to be the links between the Golden Roof, overhanging eves and Dharma-cakra. It is said the links not only stabilized the decorations on the top of the monastery but also made the monastery looked more gracious and solemn. The bridge heads were always settled with pennants and the whole bridge was always decorated with colorful flying prayer flags. Some of the bridges even settled a niche at the bridgehead to enshrine a Buddha, and the passers would also worship the Buddha with sacrifices.

Bridges in Lhasa – Modern Bridges in Lhasa

Currently, tourists making a Tibet tour will have the chance to witness the modern bridges in Lhasa, such as Liuwu Bridge and Lhasa Bridge. Most of the modern bridges in Tibet were designed by the architects and constructed by the construction teams in inland China. Besides, all the bridges in Tibet are steel structured for the consideration of the special climate on Tibet Plateau. The winter in Tibet is mainly characterized by severe cold and dry. Though the cost of the concrete bridge is much lower than the steel structured bridge, it would be easily broke in the cold and dry environment. Tourists would easily find that most of the bridges here are arch style bridges. This design concept is mainly for the consideration of a lower cost since the section of the steel structured bridge is relatively small.

Besides, the bridges in Tibet are of full folk customs. Take the modern Liuwu Bridge as an example, the lotus-structured piers of the main bridge are closely related to the religion of local Tibetans. The piers of the approach bridge shaped like the legs of the yaks since yak has almost been one of the most symbolic animals in Tibet. The decoration of the bridge also presented a typical Tibetan style, the rails and lamp-posts all painted with white and red, which are the most commonly used colors in Tibet. In addition, there are even special designs on the rails for hanging the Tibetan prayer flags.

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