The city of Lhasa lies at around 3650 meters. Lhasa consists of two quite distinctive parts: one part is primarily Tibetan and centers around the Jokhang Temple, which is the most holy site in all of Tibet.
The heart of of the Tibetan section is the Barkhor, a street that is encircling the Jokhang.
The Potala Palace
The Chinese section of Lhasa was built around the base of the Potala Palace.
The Potala Palace was mainly built during the 5th Dalai Lama’s (who moved from Drepung to the Potala) reign, between 1645 and 1693.
The Potala have around 1 000 rooms that contained the living quarters for the dalai lamas (at least during summer) as well as their tombs when they died.
Drepung and Sera Monastery
Around Lhasa there are three main monasteries: Drepung, Sera and Ganden. All of them are part of the Gelukpa (also called Yellow Hat Sect) school of Tibetan Buddhism (the school of thought most known for the Dalai Lama).
I only managed to visit Sera and Drepung since they are closest to Lhasa (Ganden is located around 45 km away).
Both Sera and Drepung were traditionally very large monasteries that had a lot of power.
Under the rule of the dalai lamas, monasteries did not have to pay taxes and formed independent economic units.
Moreover, if they owned land, local peasants and nomads worked there as serfs, requiring them to pay taxes to the monasteries.The Aru nomads (Tibetan lives: Nomads in the Aru Basin), for example, were under the direct control of Sera.
As subjects of the Sera monastery in Lhasa the Aru nomads were obligated to pay a part of their production to the monastery as annual tax.
They could choose if they wanted to pay in live animals, 1 yak or 6 sheep or 7 goats, butter and cheese, around 2.5 kg of cheese or 5 kg butter, or one bag of goat cashmere (based on a household owning 100 heads of livestock).
An official representative from Lhasa came and collected taxes once a year.
When walking around Dreping, I came across a park where monks where debating. You could hear the voices from far away and they were talking at high speed, only interrupted by the sound of hands clapping punctuating the arguments.
I only took pictures from far away because I was afraid to disturb/interrupt them.
When I later went to Sera, however, I got a bit closer to the monks debate and were allowed to walk and take picture close up.
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