Located in the old city of Lhasa, Barkhor Street is famous for its pilgrim circuit and lively market. With a history of more than 1300 years, the historical site now is the most prosperous shopping street around the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Barkhor Street is about 1000 meters in circumference. In the beginning, there was just a pilgrim circuit, after centuries of development, the ancient street has become a large area of old buildings surrounded the Jokhang Temple.
In the 7th century, Songtsen Gampo who was the most powerful king of ancient Tibet gave an order to build the Jokhang Temple, around which four palaces was under construction at the same time. These palaces once Songtsen Gampo and his concubines lived are the oldest buildings in Barkhor Street. After the Jokhang Temple was finished, a great many of pilgrims came and gradually trod a path around the temple. This is the embryonic form of Barkhor Street. About 18 family-owned buildings which provided board and lodging to pilgrims and traders were set up later around the Jokhang Temple. The old street had gradually stepped into a new stage.
The Jokhang Temple had become the center of Buddhism in Lhasa from the 15th century. Many Buddhists moved there for their beliefs. As a result, numerous of Buddhist buildings such as dorms for monks, religious schools, and small temples were founded beside the Jokhang Temple. Also, a large number of folk houses, shops, hotels and hand workshops had been opened up to the visitors. With the rise of the states in Buddhism, The Jokhang Temple became more and more important to Buddhists, many of which held that pilgrims should move around the holy temple in clockwise to pay respects to the golden statue of Sakyamuni inside the monastery. In the following centuries, many traders and pilgrims from Mongolia, Mainland China, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, India came and settled there. Today Barkhor Street has been a combination of religion, sightseeing, culture, business, and shopping.
Barkhor Street preserve the original style of the old city of Lhasa. The road of the street is paved with stones polished by hand. The old buildings at the two sides of the road are well kept. There is a large censer which is cloaked in incense day and night in the center of the street. More than 120 shops of handicrafts and 200 stalls which sell more than 8000 kinds of local specialties are located there. You can find the most representative things in Tibet like the figure of Buddha, prayer wheel, Tibetan knife, highland barley wine, and Thangka. Besides, some goods from India, Nepal, Burma, and Kashmir could also be found there.
A sight not to be missed in Barkhor Street is makye ame which is a two-layer building once the sixth Dalai Lama lived. According to legend, this talented romantic poet walked all over Tibet to search for the Supreme Tara. One day, he was sitting in a bistro when a beautiful maid opened the curtain of the bistro to look inside, this is the beginning of the moving love story of the legend.
Barkhor Street is an epitome of Tibet from ancient time. As one of the most distinctive and attractive blocks in China, the old place is more and more popular for worldwide travelers.