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Lhasa Introduction

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, the 'Roof of the World', is the political, economic and cultural centre of Tibet. Situated on the north bank of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the great Yarlung Tsangpo River (Brahmaputra), it is one of the world's cities nearest to the sky and one of the cleanest. For a millennium, this city has stunned the world with its majestic landscapes, unique culture, strong religious aura and exotic ethnic people.

As one of the 24 historical and cultural cities nominated by the State Council in China, Lhasa showcases much in its long history. The excavated Site of Qugong Culture shows the civilization of the city began in the Neolithic Age. Lhasa, 'Holy Land' literally in Tibetan, had prospered with its popular Tibetan Buddhism. In the 7th century AD, Songtsen Gampo united the whole of Tibet and founded the famed Tubo Kingdom. He then transferred the political centre from Shannan to Lhasa, and ordered the construction of the grand Potala Palace on the Red Hill, Jokhang Temple, Ramoche Monastery and other palaces and temples. With the wide spread of Buddhism and the attraction of the statue of 12-year-old Sakyamuni, pilgrims to Jokhang Temple increased day by day. So a circum-ambulation road formed around the temple and Lhasa became a real holy land. At the same time numerable residences, local authorities, shops, and hotels sprang up in this area, which gave rise to the modern- day Barkhor Street. Later in the 14th century, under the patronage of the Pagdu Dynasty of Tibet , the founder of Gelugpa - Tsong Khapa and his devout disciples established another three of the greatest monasteries, that is, Ganden Monastery, Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery. The Buddhist master also pioneered the leadership of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama in Tibet. Then during the reign of the 7th Dalai Lama, Norbulingka, a 'Summer Palace'of Dalai Lamas, was built not far from Potala. The ancient city of Lhasa, at the centre of Potala Palace, was thus formed. Yangpachen boasting its hot springs is a strong recommendation.

Lhasa has a total population of about 521.5 thousand, including Han, Tibetan, Hui and other ethnic groups, 31 in all. Tibetans comprise over 80% of the population. In the city, you can always expect to see Tibetans in exotic dress turning prayer wheels, chanting sutras, and worshipping at what are considered sacred spots. Tibetans are versatile and approachable, and accomplished in singing, dancing, Tibetan operas and various exquisite handicrafts. They are always ready to present a white Khatag, Yak Butter Tea and wonderful performances for guests from afar. Lhasa also has many unique Tibetan festivals in nearly every month, such as Tibetan New Year, Butter Lamp Festival, Shoton Festival, and Bathing Festivals. During these times they celebrate with colorful activities. To enjoy these unique festivals with them is sure to leave you with warm memories.

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