Circumambulations in Lhasa
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Circumambulations in Lhasa

Update: Feb. 4th, 2013

Prayer Wheels in Jokhang

Lhasa is respected as a holy city by the devout pilgrims. A series of religious traditions were well preserved in Lhasa, such as the circumambulating. There are 6 famous circumambulations in Lhasa, including the Langkhor, Barkhor, Linkhor, Tzekhor, Duikhor and Maikhor. All of them are cyclic annular and they have been the religious space constructed by the devout followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

In Tibetan, circumambulating means Worshipping the Buddha. For the local Tibetans, circumambulating around the ancient circumambulations make them get closer to the Buddha. A large number of devout pilgrims choose to circumambulate around the holy place and sacred monasteries to show their respect to the Buddha and accelerate their merits and virtues. Langkhor, Barkhor and Linkhor are centered on the famous Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

Circumambulations in Lhasa – Langkhor

Langkhor means the Interior Circle in Tibetan. It surrounds the main Buddha Hall was especially opened yo the devout pilgrims. Hundreds of Tibetan prayer wheels were settled at Langkhor. The pilgrims here would always rotate the prayer wheel one by one by while murmuring the Buddhism sutra. Mostly, the pilgrims would circumambulate around the Langkhor for odd circles since the odd number is regarded as auspicious number in Buddhism.

The main construction of Jokhang Temple is a 4-storey building, among which there is a circular corridor from the first floor to the third floor. The pilgrims would always start the screw type circumambulation clockwise from the first storey to the third storey. For local Tibetans, it is a tradition to circumambulate more than 20 Buddha halls in different sizes. After adding the butter and presenting the Hada to the Buddha, the pilgrims would back to the circumambulation. Hence, there are several smaller circles along the circumambulation.

Circumambulations in Lhasa – Barkhor

Barkhor Street is the miniature of Lhasa history and also the symbol of the current Lhasa City. It is also the most famous, special and hilarious street in Lhasa. It is said that Barkhor Street was developed with the prosperity of Jokhang Temple. It is an ancient street as old as Jokhang Temple and Lhasa City. Jokhang Temple was constructed in 7th century and later Barkhor Street was formed with the continuous coming of businessmen and pilgrims.

It is recorded that the number of pilgrims circumambulating around Barkhor Street ranks first among all the circumambulations in Tibet. Barkhor Street is always crowded with local citizens, Tibetans from faraway corners in Tibet and tourists both at home and abroad. There is a famous saying goes that you've never been to Tibet if you didn't visit Barkhor Street.

Circumambulations in Lhasa – Linkhor

Linkhor is the circumambulation around Lhasa City. This ancient circumambulation contained Jokhang Temple, Romache Monastery, Old Lhasa City and Potala Palace in earlier times. It is the longest one among all the circumambulations in Lhasa. Generally, it takes about 3 hours to finish a circumambulation around Linkhor for one circle. The local Tibetans widely accept that the start point of the Linkhor Circumambulation is at the cross near Romache Monastery. Actually, there is no strict rule regarding the start line. The experienced pilgrims would always say that you can start at any point if you have a devout heart.

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