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Exploring the Popular Lhasa Mosque: A Journey Through Its Islamic in Tibet

The mosque, also known as “Lhasa Mosque” (lha-savi-kha-chevi-mchod-khang), has a unique historical significance in Tibet. Here is some information about the introduction of Islam to Tibet and the current status of mosques in Lhasa:

Introduction of Islam to Tibet:

During the Great Fifth Dalai Lama‘s Reign, Islam was introduced to Tibet through interactions with Muslim traders from regions such as India, Kashmir, and Nepal. This marked the beginning of the presence of Islam in Tibet. Tibet originally had six mosques, reflecting the historical coexistence of multiple religious traditions in the region. However, as of today, only four mosques remain active and continue to serve the Muslim community.

Mosques in Lhasa: Among the remaining mosques, four are located in Lhasa city:

  • The Grand Mosque (Heba Lin Mosque): Located in the southeast of Lhasa city, builders first erected the Grand Mosque, also known as “Heba Lin Mosque,” in AD 1716 and later expanded and renovated it. The mosque complex features a gate, front yard, dormitory, minaret, worship tower, and bathroom. Its chapel can host up to 250 people for worship, and the Minaret Tower serves for calling to prayer.
  • Small Mosque: Construction of the Small Mosque took place in the 1990s, catering to the needs of Muslims from various countries like Kashmir, Ladakh, Bhutan, and Nepal, who were involved in business in Lhasa. The mosque’s layout includes northern and southern sections. The northern section houses a two-story Tibetan-style building, while the southern section contains the main chapel, accommodating up to 150 worshipers.
  • Kache Lingka East and West Mosques: Situated in the Kache Lingka area, the Kache Lingka East and West Mosques have played a vital role in the history of Islam in Lhasa. This area houses the Kajilin Kadong Mosque and Kajilin Kasi Mosque, located close to each other. Both mosques feature chapels for worship. The Kache Lingka area also includes Muslim residences and a Muslim cemetery.

These mosques are not only places of worship but also serve as cultural landmarks that reflect the historical coexistence and interaction of different religious traditions in Tibet. They are important centres for Muslims living in Lhasa to carry out their religious activities and are symbols of the enduring friendship between the Tibetan and Hui communities.

the harmonious blend of islamic and buddhist tradition
The harmonious blend of islamic and buddhist tradition

The Great Mosque

The Great Mosque, also known as the “Heba Lin Mosque,” is a significant religious site in Lhasa, Tibet. Here’s some information about the Great Mosque:

  • Location: The Great Mosque stands in the southeast of Lhasa city, Tibet.
  • History: Builders first constructed the Great Mosque in AD 1716, initially covering only 200 square meters. The mosque underwent reconstruction in the following year. Over time, it has seen several renovations and expansions, and it now spans approximately 1959 square meters, with a construction area of 1300 square meters.
  • Architecture: The mosque’s architectural layout includes several key elements. It features a tall and majestic archway-style wooden gate facing north, adorned with a gold banner reading “mosque” and decorated with painted carvings. The courtyard house inside the gate spans 380 square meters. The main building, the chapel, faces east and has an area of 285 square meters, providing a clean and elegant space for worship, accommodating up to 250 people.
  • Minaret Tower: The mosque includes a Minaret Tower, also known as the Bunker Tower. This tower serves as the place where the Mu’anzin (prayer caller) calls Muslims to prayer at designated times. It is a 4-story octagonal tower with a height of 13 meters and a perimeter of 13 meters, featuring exquisite and gorgeous architectural details.

The Great Mosque holds historical significance as a place of religious activity for the Muslim community in Lhasa and bears witness to the presence of Muslim traders and their settlement in Tibet during the Qing Dynasty. It stands as a symbol of the friendship between the Tibetan and Hui (Muslim) people.

The Small Mosque

The Small Mosque in Lhasa: Muslim people built the Small Mosque in the 1990s as a relatively modern structure. It serves the Muslim community from Kashmir, Ladakh, Bhutan, Nepal, and other countries conducting business in Lhasa.

  • Location: The Small Mosque stands south of Barkhor Street in Lhasa.
  • Layout: The mosque features an irregular layout, divided into two main sections: the northern and southern sections.
  • Northern Section: This section includes a two-story Tibetan-style building. The ground floor houses a bathroom, and the second floor provides residence for the “imam” (prayer leader).
  • Southern Section (Main Building): The mosque’s main building, or chapel, is in the southern section. It has a rectangular shape, measuring about 16 meters in length and 11.8 meters in width. The interior, with a wooden floor covered by long mats, can seat up to 150 people during worship.
  • Interior Decorations: Inside the chapel, a central niche adorns the west wall, measuring 1.9 meters high, 0.9 meters wide, and 0.82 meters deep. This niche displays a silk-woven Arabic Quran. Additionally, two woven tapestries featuring images of the Kaaba in Mecca hang on either side of the niche, exemplifying exquisite craftsmanship.

The Small Mosque serves as a place of worship and community for Muslims in Lhasa, particularly those from various regions conducting business activities in the city. It reflects the cultural diversity and religious tolerance found in Lhasa.

Kache Lingka Mosque

Kache Lingka Mosque, also known as “Hui Garden” in Tibetan, holds historical significance in Lhasa. Here is some information about Kakilinka Mosque:

  • Founding Year: Kache Linka Mosque was initially constructed in 1716.
  • Location: The mosque is situated in the western suburbs of Lhasa.
  • Two Mosques: Kache Mosque consists of two distinct mosques, namely Kache Linka Kadong Mosque and Kache Linka Kasi Mosque. These two mosques are located just tens of meters apart.
    • Kache Linka Kadong Mosque: This mosque features a rectangular chapel with an area of 105 square meters. Inside, there are 15 rooms with a net height of 2.3 meters. The north side of the chapel is where the “Mingbar” is located, serving as the place where the imam delivers lectures.
    • Kache Linka Kasi Mosque: The chapel of this mosque faces east and west, covering an area of ​​68 square meters. It includes a shrine on the west wall and a gallery outside the hall.
  • Additional Facilities: In addition to the two mosques, Kache Linka also includes Muslim residences and a Muslim cemetery. The Muslim cemetery spans an extensive area of 640,000 square meters and contains 23 tombstones.

Kache Linka Mosque represents the historical presence of the Hui Muslim community in Lhasa. It serves as a place of worship and community for Muslims in the area, contributing to the rich cultural tapestry of the city.

About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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