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Scott A. Woodward / Lhasa / Tibet

Photographer Scott A. Woodward journeyed to the vibrant Barkhor market, a swarming hub of activity in the heart of Lhasa, as part of his travels in Tibet. This snapshot taken near the Jokhang Monastery perfectly captures the vibe.

Published on Jan 4, 2017

The first stop on many travelers’ Lhasa itineraries is the Barkhor, a swarming market square and one of the most famous devotional circumambulations in the Buddhist world. The Barkhor kora, or pilgrim circuit, is approximately one kilometer around the revered Jokhang Temple, which dates to 652 A.D. The Barkhor heaves and churns with a constant swirl of devout Tibetans, many of whom have traveled for days or even weeks to meditate and pray. They stroll clockwise around the hallowed grounds, one of the most sacred monasteries in Tibet. I found myself drawn to the square, spending hours there each day, becoming swept into the masses as they whirled their way around the spiritual heart of Lhasa. Inevitably, I photographed both the faithful and the impious, but it was the energy that excited me. My back is to the main entrance of Jokhang Monastery, where prayers and prostrations occur tirelessly throughout the day. My focus is towards the bustling footpath, a stupa draped in vibrant Tibetan prayer flags, a monk smiling peacefully to himself, as the sun sinks lower in the sky on a warm, golden autumn afternoon.


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