Armed paramilitary forces patrolled the Tibetan capital and rifle-toting police guarding intersections demanded to see ID cards as the Dalai Lama lashed out at China, accusing it of rebuffing his efforts to reach a compromise over the disputed Himalayan region.
China shot back, accusing the Tibetan spiritual leader of using deceptions and lies to distort its policy in the region.
March 10 marks the anniversary of the failed uprising that sent the Tibetan spiritual leader into exile in India 51 years ago. Armed patrols have become routine since anti-Beijing unrest turned violent two years ago in protests that left at least 19 dead and prompted a wave of waves of protests across Tibetan areas ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
Beijing has demonised the Dalai Lama and accused him of wanting independence for Tibet, which China says is part of its territory.
The Dalai Lama says he only wants some form of autonomy for Tibet within China that would allow Tibetan culture, language and religion to thrive.
He accused Chinese authorities of conducting a campaign of "patriotic re-education" in monasteries in Tibet.
"They are putting the monks and nuns in prison-like conditions, depriving them the opportunity to study and practice in peace," he told thousands of Tibetan exiles gathered at a temple in Dharmsala, India, where he leads a government-in-exile.
China's Foreign Ministry did not have immediate comment, but the official Xinhua News Agency, a government mouthpiece, issued a harsh commentary accusing the Dalai Lama of trafficking in "distorted facts" and "obstinate lies".
Despite the tensions, Beijing reopened talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys in January for the first time in 15 months. But China was incensed when he met with President Barack Obama in the US last month.