Plan your Lhasa tour? When thinking of Lhasa or Tibet as a whole, normally people would agree that Lhasa is a mysterious Buddhist area where the local people all believe Buddhism. But in reality, mosques could be found in Lhasa and elsewhere in Tibet as well. At present there 4 mosques in Lhasa including Lhasa Great Mosque, Lhasa Small Mosque, East Gyangda Linka Mosque and West Gyangda Linka Mosque.
Now there are two Muslim living areas in Lhasa – Gyangda Linka Commnunity and Hebalin Muslim Community with Muslim total population of over 3000.
Gyangda Linka Muslim Community in Lhasa (卡基林卡)
Muslim traders came from Arbabs, Nepal and Western Tibet’s Kashmir area around 8th century. In the 12th century, more and more Muslim traders came to Lhasa and married the local Tibetan girls who later were converted to their husband’s relgion – Islam.
Gradually, Muslim population increased sizably with marriages and social interactions and a Muslim community was formed around Lhasa. The historical record shows that a group of Muslims came up to the fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), asking for an area to build a mosque and a burial site for their community. The Dalai Lama shot an arrow and promised the place where his arrow fell would belong to the Muslim community area. The place later came to be known as Gyangda Linka (卡基林卡).
Gyangda Linka Muslim Community was first built in 1716, about 3km west of Potala Palace. Later two mosques were built both in the east and west of Gyangda Linka and its burial site was in the south of Gyangda Linka. Today the two mosuqes are still well kept.
Hebalin Muslim Community in Lhasa (河坝林)
Hebalin is another living community for the local Mulsims. This area is located in the southeast of Barkhor Street. Lhasa Great Mosque is located about 200m to the southeast of Barkhor Street while Lhasa Small Mosque just south of Barkhor Street.
Lhasa Great Mosque was first built during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in 1716 with a construction area of only 200 square meters. In 1793 during the reign of Qianlong Emperor, the mosque was renovated and expanded. Unfortunately Lhasa Great Mosque was burned down in 1959. The next year a new mosque was rebuilt with the construction area of over 1300. The whole mosque has a total area of 2600 square meters. Its prayer hall can accommodate over 250 people.
Lhasa Small Mosque was first established in 1920s mainly for the traders coming from Nepal, Kashmir area, Bhutan and Britain. The main prayer hall can hold over 150 people.
Lhasa Great Mosque Walking Trail
After you finish your walking around the exterior of Barkhor Temple, you just walk another 200 meters, then you will get to the Lhasa Great Mosque. The small lane is located to the southeast of Barkhor Street where you will see a three-storey yellow building which is the well known Makye Ame Lhasa Restaurant. Just follow the road in front of the entrance gate to the yellow three-storey restaurant leading to the Lhasa Great Mosque at a distance of only 200 meters.
The north entrance to Lhasa Great Mosque. Its name is inscribed on an big signboard over the gate in Arabic script, and Tibetan and Chinese characters. The entire wall of the mosque is decorated in traditional Islamic flower patterns with blue as its basic color.
The mosque is built in the traditional form with a dome and minaret. The mosque compound is composed of a pailou, worship hall, school and others.