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Barkhor area (Lhasa, Tibet central)

Lively streets of Barkhor (© Olivier Föllmi)

What is the Barkhor area ?

The word Barkhor བར་སྐོར། has two meaning.

➡️ The circuit around the Jokhang temple

Khor comes from སྐོར་ར། which means circumambulation.

The circuit of Barkhor is considered as infinitely sacred since in the center is the Jokhang and thus the statue of Jowo.

The Tibetans make this circuit clockwise direction to accumulate merit. And usually chanting (or whispering) mantras at the same time, which they count on their rosary.

They also make offerings of juniper mixed with roasted barley flour in the large ovens positioned around the Jokhang.

They usually stop at the small altar dedicated to Palden Lhamo, which is located outside the Jokhang on the left side. This altar is located behind one of the large ovens surrounding the Jokhang.

Offering of juniper trees in front of the Jokhang (© Olivier Föllmi)

➡️ The whole area around the Jokhang

There are other small Buddhist temples, bookstores, teahouses, restaurants, traditional clothing and jewellery stores, in short, very active and lively streets.

Even if they come for another reason, most of the Tibetans make the tour in the direction of the circumambulation.

Pilgrims and passers-by crossing the Barkhor in a clockwise direction (© Olivier Föllmi)

What do to in the Barkhor area ?

It all depends on the time of day.

During the day:

🌱 make the kora with the other pilgrims

🌱 have a tea in one of the Tibetan teahouses there

🌱 enter a bookstore to browse through books in Tibetan (usually books in A6 or A5 format and not in their traditional form)

🌱 admire the fabrics of chuba (traditional Tibetan clothing)

🌱 try on the cowboy hats that Tibetans love

If you are a morning person, go around 7-8am and :

🔥 watch Tibetans buy juniper sold by street vendors and watch them throw that juniper with toasted barley flour into the ovens in front of the Jokhang temple

🔥 follow them (always around 7-8am) into the small chapels hidden in the Barkhor, in which they make offerings of lamps and alcohol to the deities

If you are an evening person:

🌙 witness the prostrations of pilgrims around the Jokhang temple, wearing gloves and kneepads

🌙 have dinner at a Barkhor restaurant and take a digestive walk doing koras around the Jokhang

Pilgrims prostrating in front of the Jokhang (© Olivier Föllmi)


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