If you are at the moment tangling with the many hotel options Lhasa got to offer, Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel would be a good choice especially you are interested in the history of Tibet. Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel is one of the oldest manors in Lhasa, situated right across street from Jokhang Temple in Barkhor Street with the Lhasa old town in view. Barkhor Street, where Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel is located, was once the home of the old Tibetan nobles. Being able to build and live in such a residence is a symbol of the upper class identity. Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel is a state-level cultural relic unit approved by the State Council. It is a typical Tibetan aristocratic residence covering an area of more than 2,790 square meters.
The name of Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel was taken from its former owner, the famous big merchant in Tibet, Phuntsok Khasang. Before the Phuntsok Khasang family was admitted to this compound, this compound was the residence of the noble Tibetan families. Later, it was sold to Phuntsok Khasang, a wealthy business owner from Changdu. From then on, the house was called Phuntsok Khasang Manor.
Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel, like most of the noble houses in the old city of Lhasa, uses a thick stone wall on the outside, making it difficult for outsiders to look into it. The architectural form and pattern of the Phuntsok Khasang Manor have similarities with other Tibetan noble manors in Lhasa. In the south, there is a two-storey cloister structure that encloses a spacious courtyard; in the north is a three-story main building with several small courtyards. Each column in the courtyard is painted with bright colors and depicts traditional Tibetan auspicious patterns. The three corridors linking the entire second floor are carved with exquisite patterns.
The entire compound itself reflects the cleverness and wisdom of Tibetan craftsmen. Although the courtyard wall is tall, there are two patios in the main building, so even in the late afternoon the sunlight can still enter the bottom floor of the interior of the patio.
Entering the ancient building of Phuntsok Khasang Manor, a story of past slowly unravels itself — Phuntsok Khasang’s family had been the largest trading company in Tibet. It had more than 2,000 horses and operates all Tibetan wool and medicinal herbs. The bell of the Phuntsok Khasang family’s horse gang has been on the Tea Horse Road for more than half a century. They were well-known in India, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and other countries.
The Phuntsok Khasang family’s ancestors were originally Seto serfs. They built their business from selling tea. Unlike most merchants engaged in small business transactions in Barkhor Street, the Phuntsok Khasang family made their fortune by obtaining the exclusive right to sell Tibetan wool. For decades, the wealth of the Phuntsok Khasang family has increased dramatically.
As a business gang, the Phuntsok Khasang family did not have the mythical origin and the myth of the heavenly ancestors that could be counted from the Tibetan era, and there was no noble lineage passed down from generation to generation. With their own efforts, the Phuntsok Khasang family stepped into the ranks of the Lhasa nobility. This made the later generations highly valued the entire family.
In the period of the War against Japanese Aggression, Phuntsok Khasang family set up material transfer stations in Lhasa, Qamdo, Yushu, Ganzi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Lijiang, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong through the ancient Tea Horse Road to transport supplies for the southwest. In 1950, Phuntsok Khasang family organized horse gangs, entered Tibet with the People’s Liberation Army, and actively supported the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
Today, the historical story of Phuntsok Khasang family has faded away, and only this ancient building tells the silent history. The stories of Phuntsok Khasang family has been sealed in Tibetans’ memory. This manor has been meticulously transformed to a hotel with profound cultural heritage. Please contact Tibet4Fun if you are interested to stay in Phuntsok Khasang International Youth Hostel during your Lhasa trip.
This article is written by Metok, Tibet travel specialist of Tibet4Fun