Barkhor Street

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The Barkhor is an area of narrow streets and a public square located around Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet.

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Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street

The Barkor is a popular devotional circumabulation for pilgrims and locals. The walk was about one kilometre long and encircled the entire Jokhang, the former seat of the State Oracle in Lhasa called the Muru Nyingba Monastery, and a number of nobles' houses including Tromzikhang and Jamkhang. There were four large incense burners (sangkangs) in the four cardinal directions, with incense burning constantly, to please the gods protecting the Jokhang. The Tromzikhang market is busy in Barkhor, and the area is a major tourist attraction.

Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street

Because the Jokhang Temple has been a symbolic center of Tibetan protest since 1987, the Barkhor has also seen many demonstrations. In 1989, when year the 14th Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize, pro-Dalai Lama residents threw tsampa around the Barkhor to celebrate. After the Central government denounced the prize, residents who continued such demonstrations were arrested. The square was briefly closed by riot police during the 2008 Lhasa violence.

Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street Shopping Tips

1. When walking around Barkhor Street, always walk in a clockwise direction.

2. It is recommended not to visit Barkhor street in the evening. Every evening at six o'clock, Barkhor Street turns into a market selling small articles for daily use, and the labyrinth of lanes surrounding the street are very easy to get lost in.

Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street

3. It is important to bargain on Barkhor Street. The given price is often many times more than the price the shop keeper will accept. It is best to shop around. Many shops will sell similar items, and it is the best way to ensure you get the cheapest price. Sometimes if visitors find something they really want, it is acceptable to pay a higher price because many of the items found on Barkhor Street cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

4. According to tradition, Tibetan shop keepers will offer discounts to the first and last shopper of the day.

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