The Barkhor is essentially a pilgrim circuit which is followed clockwise round the periphery of the Jokhang. Shaped roughly like an octagon, it is also a hive of market activity. Barkhor Street has a long history. Built to encircle the famous Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, it is actually a narrow lane, 600m long.
Lined with the shop stalls and teahouses, the outdoor market sells all manner of goods including saddles and stirrups, Chinese army gear, thangkas, jewelry, blankets, carpets, etc. The goods for sale here exemplify local Tibetan culture and artifacts. From morning to evening, streams of people throng the streets, to purchase whatever they need. The whole Bakhor area is worth exploring with huge wooden doors set in long white walls leading into hidden courtyards surrounded by traditional stone houses.
To the west of the north street of Barkhor, in front of a juniper hearth, the annual ceremony to hail Maitreya (Buddha of the Future) is held. Tibetans pray before the hearth to expect fortune in the next year. A small lane leads northward to a nearby market, the oldest market in Lhasa. The pantheon of the three story temple built during the Tubo period retains its Tubo architecture after many renovations. It was said that characters used in Tibetan writing were invented in the temple.