Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street encircling Johkang Temple is one of the three pilgrimage circulations in Lhasa. The other two are respectively inside Jokhang Temple and around the Potala Palace. This oldest street was tread out by continuous waves of pilgrims. With the sweeping spiritual potency of the temple in 15th century, more and more worshippers settled down and then the life service like the canteens, accommodations and workshops and stores flourished and formed the present street combination of the famous pilgrimage and sight and a shopping place. Now every day devout worshippers can be seen clockwise prostrating their way around the sacred path to the Jokhang Temple.

The street area is very big covering many streets and alleys. The main street surrounding the temple is a 1,000-meter street bustling with hundreds of store fronts and street vendors. Worshipping wares and tourist souvenirs are hawked along this Tibetan-ambience stoned street: yak butter lamps, prayer wheels, scriptures, turquoise and coral jewelries, antique carvings, Tibetan carpets, etc. Tibetan snacks and cuisines are easy to spot here. The Tibetan vendors customarily value their first and last customer and they always pat the first earning money on their stall goods in hope of getting more deals later. And yet the shopping street usually turns into a daily commodity marketplace after 6pm.

There are some famed stores on the street like Makye Ame for sixth Dalai Lama romance legend and Tibetan cuisine (Chinese character: 玛吉阿米酒馆, Pinyin: Má jí ā mǐ, Add: South-east corner, Barkhor Street, Lhasa, Add in Chinese: 拉萨市八角街东南角, Tel: 0891-6324455), old Nepalese store Syamukapu for the traditional statues and masks (Chinese character: 夏帽嘎布, Pinyin: Xià Mào Gǎ Bù, Add: No.15 Bei Jie (Southside), Barkhor Street, Add in Chinese:八廓北街南侧15号 Tel: 0891-6336518), Lhasa Thangka Handicraft Store for Thangka artwork or lessons (Chinese character: 拉萨雪域唐卡手工艺店, Pinyin: Lā Sà Xǘe Yù Táng Kǎ Shóu Gōng YìDiàn, Add: No. 16 Nan Jie, Barkhor Street, Lhasa, Add in Chinese:八角南街16号).

Besides the goods and eateries, many historical sites tucked away in the Barkhor lanes deserve an exploration to trace the street's old past like the former temporal two-storey mansion for the Songtsen Gampo (Chinese character:法王宫, Pinyin: Fǎ Wáng Gōng, Add: No.24 Bei Jie, Barkhor Street. Add in Chinese:八角北街24号), former accommodation temple for the ancient monks attending Jokhang Temple ritual events and the present villager residence compound (Chinese character:旧木鹿寺, Pinyin: Jiù Mù Lù Sì,Add: NO.10 North West lane, Bei Jie, Barkhor Street, Lhasa, Add in Chinese:八角北街西北巷十号院内), the former mansion for the Tibet character creators and now the residence committee location (Chinese character:吐巴, Pinyin: Tǔ Bā, Add: Southern end of Barkhor Street, Add in Chinese: 八角街转经路的南端). Since the lanes are winding and dim, it is not advisable to explore them at night.

Remember to walk clockwise the street (or just follow the crowd flow) and bargain. Also keep an eye on your belongings at any time though there are police and security guards all over the place.