Abstract=After a visit at the Social Academy of Science in Lhasa in the morning we visit the Potala palace and the monasteries located at the foot of Chakpori.
Lhasa. The early morning is devoted to look for Tronduk at the Social Academy of Science which is located in Sera lam, in the N of the temple of Ramoche. I succeed in joining him and I obtain an appointment for 10h00. When I arrive nobody is at the main door so I enter the 2 large buidings facing the avenue. What was surprising, here as in China, the offices were empty and most of them without furniture! Once the building had been built, there was no more money left to engage civil servants. In addition it was difficult to find qualified people! Mr. Tronduk received me in his studio apartment in a small court which looked like the Beijing "yutong". I understand that he works here. He is quite convinced of the value of my work. He seems interested but the only true information I obtain from him was that the Director is presently in the United States as the guest of David Germano whose project would be different from mine. Obviously my visit came at the wrong time. I request an answer to the letter of Paris University which preceded me. Finally, it appears that any project, if it is accepted by the Director of the Academy, has to be endorsed by the government. That can take time! I return to the hotel at midday where we take a frugal collation in the room. I am not filled with enthusiasm by the results of my visit.
We then decide to begin the visit to the Potala palace.
The taxi deposits us on a small square where there stands a stele of 8th century at the foot of a slope which runs along the front and where tourists generally follow in the opposite direction in order to leave the Potala.
In the first courtyard a great tapestry is laid on the ground.
(the same courtyard photographed 2 years earlier to show the courtyard size)
From this courtyard, we reach the "white" Palace built by the "Great Fifth".
We begin the visit in the reception rooms which were very richly decorated. The interior compares in richness with decorations of Versailles Palace which I knew well.
We then visited the rooms of the Red Palace and we were impressed by the chortens in solid gold containing the burials of the previous Dalai Lamas. The 5th Dalai Lama is the most beautiful one. There are incalculable treasures. Tons and tons of gold!
We leave and cross the new Beijing avenue
to reach the foot of Chakpori hill to visit the temples of Draglha Lugug and of Droubthop lhakhang. They were built by the Chinese wife of the famous king Srontsen Gampo in the 7th century. The Chinese we met refused to answer any of our questions.
We return downtown by bus. We decide to visit several other monasteries in the N
such as Ramoche G
and Tsepak lhakang located just at the left. ( Ramoche was built to shelter the gold statue brought by the first nepalese wife of Srontsen Gampo )
We pass the hotel to attend the evening prayers in the first courtyard of the Jokhang temple
and the Meru Nyingba which is in the street behind.
In the past the city stands one mile east of the Potala Palace in the middle of a damp plain and Jokhang monastery was facing the king palace. Between the two, meadows and residential buildings.
Now a new Chinese town extends. The square, facing the Jokhang, has been established with a police station and many cameras to survey pilgrims and foreigner tourists.
Barkhor streets surrounding the Jokhang is always travelled by pilgrims clockwisely. As well they also made the tour of the anciant city along the "LIngkor lane" which takes half a day.
Unfortunately the new administration decided to renovate the old city. They distroyed the old buidings replacing them by new ones which look like the old ones but are the property of new Chinese owners.
The Jokhang temple was built by Srontsan Gampo in 650 to share the golden statue of buddha aged of 12th years brought by its Chinese wife Wengchen. The old walls and the wood pillars are original. The whealth of the lateral chapels is equal to the popular faith. A monk limits the access of the Dukhang but the crowd continuously circumbulate the circular gallery around and the opened lateral chapels. When the door opens we dash to access to the holyest place of Tibet. The interior is magnificent and in front of the central altar, we are without voice and the heart is near to break. As we are leaving this room the evening ceremony has begun in a lateral courtyard. Songs and voices are also unsurpassed. We will stay a long time very impressed.
After the visit we shall walk to Meru Nyingpa Monastery, one street behind. It is said the oldest of Tibet, built by Srontsan Gampo father and held by Tomni Sambhota, known as the maker of the Tibetan alphabet which permit the translation of the oldest indian buddhists texts, and the writing of the royal records called Annals in Asia. Most of the books not export or copied by occidental tibetologists before 1960 had been distroyed by Red Guards in the seventies. The same destructions occured in the whole China territory at the same period but with less intensity and books were preserved.
After a short period of rest we are invited to dine by Tensing and Lobsang in the Snowland restaurant which is located in the street behind our hotel. I meet here a Tibetan writer who is well known in Lhasa, a friend of Francis Gunter. He is living above Barkhor cafe.