Bajiao Street also called Barkhor Street, is an old and traditional shopping street in the center of Lhasa. It is also a place where Tibetan culture, economy, religion and arts assemble and a place to which a visit must be paid. Barkhor is the road on which pilgrims tramped out around Jokhang Temple through centuries. Buddhist pilgrims walk by body-length kowtow along the street clockwise every day into deep night.
Barkhor Street is also a marketplace where shaggy nomads, traders, robed monks and chanting pilgrims join together. Shops and stalls sell printed scriptures, cloth prayer flags and other religious vessels, jewelry, Tibetan knives and ancient coins etc.
Then be transferred back to your hotel.
(All photos by Luo Chunming/罗春明 from Yunnan.cn)
You can enjoy several historic sites of interests on Bajiao Street. There is a tall colorful pole, around it there are four Dharma-cakra pillars. Those pillars are set up in order to show the dignity of Buddhist rules.
The Incense Tower is in the west of Bajiao North Street, each year pilgrims hold a ceremony here to greet the Next Buddha (Maitreya, among the Buddha statue-the one always carries big grin, the one brings good lucks and fortune). Therefore, the prayers and burning incenses activities in this tower is exceptionally high.
Towards the eastside of The Incense Tower, there is an old government office, it used to be the government office of Lhasa, in Tibetan is called "Langzi" Chamber. The inside this chamber the rooms are darkish and horrible and at that time many were used to locking up prisoners, now many torturing tools are still in it.
Near the tower there is a small street facing north, leading to a Tibetan market called "Chongsaikang", this is the oldest market place in Lhasa. Nearby there is an old 3-story building, It was the minister's office of Ch'ing (1644 ~ 1911A.D.) government before.
To the east of the Bajiao Street and the Dazhao temple, there is a 3-story old temple named "Moruningba", the temple was build in Tufan time. The temple still carries the style of Tufan time. In the southeast corner, there is the famous gathering square for teaching scripture named "Songquerang".
When having prayers meeting, the Abbot of Gandan Temple named Gandanchiba or the high priest of area will preach here for many days. They will also hold debate about scripture that is the exam of the highest level Tibetan Buddhism.
If you are an antique collector, you must come to Bajiao Street. The entire street has more than 300 shopes, and more than 1000 street vendors. Except Tibetan most of those vendors are immigrants of Nepal and Musilin settled in Lhasa for over ten generations. There are old-fashioned jewelry, religion appliances, Tibetan swords, old coins, and all kinds of folk gizmos. You might find your "treasures" among tons of age-old things. Nevertheless, be careful when do your shopping as always like anywhere else, you could be cheat by some of the venders.
In fact, widely speaking, Bajiao Street includes the areas of the older street around. The density enwrapped the old residents of Lhasa, Bajiao Street to them and they in the middle of this old street form a special old street "culture". If you want to take a vacation and join us to Lhasa, it will be very interesting to travel this age-old street and many others.
In Seventh Century, when the emperor of Tibet ordered the tribes to move to the Lhasa plain, it was still a rural area then. They pitched a camp and built a Dazhao Temple beside the Wotang Lake. This beautiful palace quickly attracted many faithful pilgrims, gradually the formation of the Bajiao Street around the Dazhao Temple took place, it became a gateway for pilgrimage in the area.
Bajiao Street also called Bakuo Street, "kuo" means "circle", it means that the Tibetan's wheel of scripture is always turning. There are three "circles" surrounded the old Lhasa city, the "Nankuo", "Bakau" and "Linkuo". The "Nankuo" is a winding corridor in the temple and the "Bakau" is the midway of the temple, then there is "Linkuo" which surrounds the old city including the Potala Palace. The "kuo" also represents periphery of the world and the edge of the world.
Day after day, pilgrims from all over walking hurriedly on these three circle roads. Along with their prayer, they are accumulating their merits and virtues with their steps. Many people kowtow and arrive in Lhasa from distant places piously. The large amount of pilgrims created a in float of population. Among today's Lhasa' resident many of them are the descendents of those pilgrims.
Dharma-cakra pillars - Those pillars are set up in order to show the dignity of Buddhist rules. This tradition began from Tufan time (early 600A.D.). Believers must walk from its periphery, otherwise you will be accuse of against the rules.
(China.org.cn September 12, 2007)