The Barkhor is probably the best part about Lhasa and one of the most interesting places to see in Tibet. The Barkhor is a pilgrimage kora around Tibet's most holy temple, the Jokhang. The main circuit of the Barkhor is about 1km long, but there are many small alleys that come off of the main route. Everyday sees thousands of Tibetan pilgrims walking around the Barkhor in a clockwise direction. Lined with shops, the Barkhor is one of the best places to pick up Tibetan souvenirs. With knives, prayer wheels, Buddhist statues, jade jewelry and the latest music from India, there is something for everyone. Along with countless shops, there are also many restaurants serving authentic Tibetan food. While these places usually don't have English menus (or any menu for that matter), they are a great place to go to try some Tibetan cuisine.
The Barkhor sits in the heart of the Tibetan district of Lhasa (yes, it is sad that Lhasa has to have a Tibetan district). Traditional style Tibetan homes, the kind found in this region of Tibet, line each side of the road around the Barkhor. Several small temples are also found along the Barkhor such as Mani Lhakhang, Jampa Lhakhang and Meru Nyingba. Along the southeast corner of the Barkhor lies the Muslim district of Lhasa where a large mosque is found. Surprisingly, Lhasa has quite a large Muslim population. Uyghurs from Xinjiang province as well as Hui from Gansu and Salar from Qinghai provinces can all be found in Lhasa operating noodle restaurants, serving as butchers and selling dried fruit.
Being around all the pilgrims on the Barkhor is a unique experience. Seeing the spinning of hand held prayer wheels and hearing the constant chanting of Tibetan prayers gives the Barkhor the characteristics that have made it one of the most famous places in Tibet. When you go to Lhasa, spend some time wandering around it. Don't just walk around it once or twice, but spend some serious time observing the Tibetan people as they walk past you. It is an experience you will never forget.
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