History of Barkhor Street
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History of Barkhor Street

Update: Dec. 28th, 2012

Barkhor Street

History of Barkhor Street – Formation of Barkhor Street

In middle of seventh century, Songtsen Ganpo – the king of Tubo Kingdom built the Jokhang Temple at the Wutang Lake to enshrine the 8-year-old statue of Sakyamuni which was brought to Tibet by Princess Khri B'Tsun from Nepal. At the same time, Songtsen Ganpo also built four palaces around the lake to be the residence of princess and ministers. The four palaces became the earliest buildings on the Barkhor Street. After the Jokhang Temple completed, the monks and believers gradually trod a pathway in "U" shape around the Jokhang Temple. That's the embryonic form of Barkhor Street.

Many pious Buddhism believers decided to stay there after worshipping the Jokhang Temple. Later, 18 courtyard style architectures gradually appeared around the Jokhang Temple and became the place for pilgrims and merchants to take rest. About 15th century, Jokhang Temple gradually became the center of propagating Buddhism. The area around the solemn Jokhang Temple gradually became busy street. The accommodation of monks, religious schools, small monasteries and other architectures gradually built up. The merchants, pilgrims and Tibetans from Han, Mongolian Plateau, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Indian and other countries started to open shops and stalls there to sell handicrafts and special local products. After 1300 years, the present Barkhor Street has developed into a well-known street integrating religious street, sightseeing street, custom street, cultural street, business street and shopping street.

History of Barkhor Street – Development of Barkhor Street

In the 1400 years' history from formation to now, Barkhor Street witnessed the rise and decline of local authorities, decline and prosperous of Buddhism, communication and integration of national culture, decline and prosperous of trade, transition of social system, as well as the prosperous and development of Lhasa City. The history of Barkhor Street is a vivid development history of Tibet.

In each development period of Lhasa, the status and function of Tibetan religious center, culture center and business center of Barkhor was succeeded. The various monasteries and Buddhism halls, shops and workshops, hotels and guest rooms, watchtowers and palaces, residences and monk accommodations around the Jokhang Temple continuously enlarged scale, and gradually became the center of Lhasa City. In history, Barkhor Street was Lhasa, and Lhasa was Barkhor Street. Barkhor Street, with its special status and function, becomes the epitome of the development history of Lhasa.

In 1979, the old town of Lhasa, which regards Jokhang Temple as the "heart" and Barkhor Street" as the "pulse", was repaired and rebuilt. The reconstruction project did not change the original form of Barkhor Street. The typical Tibetan architecture and Tibetan traditional life style were completely kept. For travelers, the magical Lhasa is a holy tourist land. When you visit Barkhor Street in Lhasa tour, you can enjoy Tibetan custom, buy various special tourism souvenirs, as well as experience typical Tibetan life.

History of Barkhor Street – Present Barkhor Street

Present Barkhor Street is with over 40,000 residents, including Tibetan, Han Nationality, Hui Nationality, etc. On the street, there are various Tibetan style courtyards. In the alleys, there are some special bars with distinctive national features and local flavor. Rambling on Barkhor Street, you will see various foreign travelers are sightseeing or shopping. You may feel very modern for this. But the ancient architectures on the both sides of the street are reminding you that the Barkhor Street in Lhasa is the perfect combination of ancient and young, tradition and modern.

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