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Drepung monastery and walking the Linkor

Lhasa Travel Blog

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Potala Palace at sunrise
It was a beautiful morning, being in the same timezone as Beijing meant the sun didn't get up til almost 8am, and that's really a plus for sunrise photo shots! The sun was not yet up, and not too many clouds were in the sky, so I went to the Potala square again with camera and tripod hoping for a nice shot of the Potala at sunrise. There were pilgrims prostrating in front of the Potala already, and many camera toting photographers with tripods on the square! It was nice to look at the mountains around Lhasa and saw the tops of the mountsins started to receive the sunlight. The Potala started to be lit, first it was a white ambient light, and I took some photos, then the sun's golden rays hit the top of the Potala, and whether I got any good photos or not, it was a beautiful sight and touching experience.
Potala Palace at sunrise
I felt very lucky to be able to spend that moment looking at this remarkable symbol of Tibet.

I have to talk about the way our driver backed the minibus from in front of the hotel. The minibus would be parked head pointing at the hotel on the curb. Maybe it's not really a curb, but a parking lot, but a curb is a better description about the size of this space! He would back up slowly, and if he was going to cross the traffic to go the other direction, he would just back up into ONCOMING traffic, which would miraculously stop inches away from the minibus. Then he would point the front of the car so that it was now in the WRONG lane pointing at the traffic, and then drive forward to merge into the traffic in the right direction! This would never have worked in California, but nobody seemed to think it strange here! Since all drivers seemed to do the same thing.
The TV tower near the Potala Palace


We went to visit the Drepung Monastery at the foot of the mountains west of Lhasa today. While driving up the hill, we had our first views of some yaks! There were no wild yaks in easy access in Tibet (our guide said he had seen very few of them in remote areas), and these were domestic yaks which we did not get very close to. The Drepung was a large scale monastic site which once had almost 10000 monks! It is more like a college town of its own with colleges for study and dormitaries for the monks. We would see windows with flower pots which would be the residence of some monks as we walked around. It's nice to know they appreciate some nice flowers to brighten their surroundings. We also saw monks tending their vegetable gardens. In front of the main hall, I did some yoga poses and then proceeded to change a roll of film.
Potala Palace in the morning
However, I somehow tried to put an exposed roll back in the camera! After realizing my mistake, I spent quite a few minutes in a dark corner of the big kitchen to remove the roll from the camera. When I was putting things away, a monk helpfully turned on a light for me! Well I lost a few frames and also didn't really get to tour the kitchen. I had brought with me some prayer beads bought near the Jokhang, our guide and friends helped get them blessed by a monk here and also to give them something special by touching them on lots of surfaces in all the chapels we visited. I also got some symbols of protection from the monastery to give to friends back home. Behind the monastery, on the mountain was a large structure where the huge thangka would be displayed. We also saw the huge thangka storage cabinets along the side of the main hall.
Our hotel, and someone else's bus
It would have been real impressive to witness the 150 or so monks carrying it up the hill to display it.

After the Drepung, we visited the Nechung Monastery, where the oracle used to reside. The 14th Dalai Lama stopped here to consult the oracle before he left his homeland (The oracle said he should leave).
This was a very small monastery, but it had a lot of murals lining the walls of its inner courtyard and main hall. Bring a flash light to get a better view! It was of course impossible to look at everything in detail. But what we saw were very detailed and vivid pieces of artwork.

Before heading back to Lhasa, we stopped at a carpet factory at my request because I read about it in the guidebook I had. There were male and female carpet weavers in the front room, singing as they weaved.
Drepung Monastery ticket office
I took some Polaroid photos of them, and before I knew it, they all seemed to want their photos taken. Since I had brought limited number of negatives, I had to say no to some of them. Hey, bring an instant camera if you want to have instant friends in Tibet!

A late lunch at the Snowland restaurant near the Jokhang, then some rest before we went out again. This time we walked part of the Lingkor, the outer pilgrim circuit of old Lhasa. We did not see many pilgrims along this route because most pilgrims do it in early morning, when it was much cooler! We started at the chorten in what seemed to be a back alley, past some walled compound, up a hill. Along the path there were lots of carved or painted buddha and other sacred images on the rocks of the hill, and some of them were protected with a piece of glass.
Prayer flags strung way up the mountain at the Drepung Monastery
Not just any glass, but a slightly cracked windshield of a car! Many prayer flags were on this hill, then we saw this stupa made from stacks of mani-stones! And there were people right there carving these stones. Down the hill, and were were at a large Blue Buddha and many other buddhas painted on a rock face. We walked past the golden yaks statues and turned northeast on the road toward the back of the Potala. We ended up at the three chortens and continued into the Lukhang park behind the Potala. The sixth Dalai Lama was said to sneak out of the Potala to meet his many girlfriends here! The sixth was a different kind of Dalai Lama partly because he did not come to the Potala until he was much older (because the death of the great fifth was hidden by the . There were prayer wheels all along the back of the Potala and we tried to spin as many of them as possible as we walked.
A water powered prayer wheel at the Drepung Monastery
You get a strong right arm if you do it all the time, I am sure.

Tonight was the last night in Lhasa, and we went to a Tibetan restaurant for dinner. We were served the Tibetan beer called Chang, tried yak butter tea (not too bad, but it was definitely an acquired taste), and had yak tongue (I didn't eat it, although everyone who tried it said it was good!). There was a dish of potatoes with garlic which was quite good.

We definitely acclimatized while in Lhasa, evidenced by the relative ease with which we climbed the stairs now at the hotel!
mountaingirl says:
Great pictures and blog.... and yes, it brings back lots of memories for me too. Cheers,
Posted on: Oct 26, 2007
eefab says:
Your blog & pictures bring back a lot of memories, thanks!
Posted on: Oct 20, 2007
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Potala Palace at sunrise
Potala Palace at sunrise
Potala Palace at sunrise
Potala Palace at sunrise
The TV tower near the Potala Palace
The TV tower near the Potala Palace
Potala Palace in the morning
Potala Palace in the morning
Our hotel, and someone elses bus
Our hotel, and someone else's bus
Drepung Monastery ticket office
Drepung Monastery ticket office
Prayer flags strung way up the mou…
Prayer flags strung way up the mo…
A water powered prayer wheel at th…
A water powered prayer wheel at t…
View of Drepung Monastery
View of Drepung Monastery
A Mani-stone at Drepung Monastery
A Mani-stone at Drepung Monastery
Mountain side behind Drepung with …
Mountain side behind Drepung with…
Close-up of rock paintings behind …
Close-up of rock paintings behind…
A panning view of Drepung Monaste…
Prayer wheels at Drepung Monastery
Prayer wheels at Drepung Monastery
Buildings at Drepung Monastery
Buildings at Drepung Monastery
View of Drepung Monastery toward t…
View of Drepung Monastery toward …
Another close-up of the rock paint…
Another close-up of the rock pain…
A walk path at the Drepung Monaste…
A walk path at the Drepung Monast…
View of rock paintings
View of rock paintings
Jan and I heading into the Drepung
Jan and I heading into the Drepung
One of the buildings at Drepung Mo…
One of the buildings at Drepung M…
A window and the colorful wall at …
A window and the colorful wall at…
Solar power in action and thermose…
Solar power in action and thermos…
monk blessing the prayer beads for…
monk blessing the prayer beads fo…
view of Drepung Monastery buildings
view of Drepung Monastery buildings
steep stairway at Drepung Monastery
steep stairway at Drepung Monastery
a door with yak leather poll
a door with yak leather poll
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
a window at Drepung Monastery
a window at Drepung Monastery
Monk going to his dormitory at Dre…
Monk going to his dormitory at Dr…
windows with flower pots at Drepun…
windows with flower pots at Drepu…
main hall at Drepung Monastery
main hall at Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Roof top at Drepung Monastery
Roof top at Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
A monk adding oil to a lamp at Dre…
A monk adding oil to a lamp at Dr…
Drepung Monastery, roof of the mai…
Drepung Monastery, roof of the ma…
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
monks chopping wood at Drepung Mon…
monks chopping wood at Drepung Mo…
a path at Drepung Monastery
a path at Drepung Monastery
Entrance to the Nechung Monastery …
Entrance to the Nechung Monastery…
Kevin and I walking through the or…
Kevin and I walking through the o…
main hall at Nechung Monastery, on…
main hall at Nechung Monastery, o…
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
painted posts at Nechung Monastery
painted posts at Nechung Monastery
painted doors at Nechung Monastery
painted doors at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
painted ceiling at Nechung Monaste…
painted ceiling at Nechung Monast…
faces around a door frame at Nechu…
faces around a door frame at Nech…
mural at Nechung Monastery, hangin…
mural at Nechung Monastery, hangi…
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
mural at Nechung Monastery
Pillar wrapped in prayer flags and…
Pillar wrapped in prayer flags an…
Tibetan carpet maker
Tibetan carpet maker
A young Tibetan male carpet maker…
Tibetan carpet makers
Tibetan carpet makers
prayer flags up the hill on the Li…
prayer flags up the hill on the L…
prayer flags galore on the Lingkor…
prayer flags galore on the Lingko…
Mani stones
Mani stones
painted buddhas on the hill on the…
painted buddhas on the hill on th…
Painted rocks protected by a car w…
Painted rocks protected by a car …
Prayer flags on the Lingkor circuit
Prayer flags on the Lingkor circuit
This was the stupa made from stack…
This was the stupa made from stac…
Another view of the stupa made fro…
Another view of the stupa made fr…
These were parts for the prayer wh…
These were parts for the prayer w…
Workers carving mani stones under …
Workers carving mani stones under…
The Blue Buddha painted on the sto…
The Blue Buddha painted on the st…
This was under renovation, a templ…
This was under renovation, a temp…
The Golden Yaks statues.
The Golden Yaks statues.
View of the back of the Potala fro…
View of the back of the Potala fr…
The three chortens at the back of …
The three chortens at the back of…
Long row of prayer wheels along th…
Long row of prayer wheels along t…
Trying to spin all the prayer whee…
Trying to spin all the prayer whe…
Hair styles of Tibetan women
Hair styles of Tibetan women
Potala Palace at night.
Potala Palace at night.
Potala Palace at night with reflec…
Potala Palace at night with refle…
Ticket to the Drepung
Ticket to the Drepung
Lhasa Hotels & Accommodations review
We stayed 4 nights at this hotel during our trip. It definitely has a great location, within easy walking distance to the Jokhang temple, and the Pota… read entire review
Lhasa
photo by: mountaingirl