The world famous Potala Palace is located on Moburi (Red) Mountain,
to the west of old Lhasa. It is a huge treasure house of materials
and articles from Tibetan history, religion, culture and art. The
palace is widely known for the precious sculptures, murals,
scriptures, Buddha statues, murals, antiques, and religious jewelry
housed within. They are of great cultural and artistic value. In
1994, the Potala Palace was declared a UNESCO World Cultural
Heritage Site. It was originally built in the 7th century, during
the reign of King Songtsan Gampo of Tibet.
The 13-story palace stands 117 meters high and has over 1,000
rooms. It covers an area of 130,000 square meters. The entire
building is made of stone and wood, with walls averaging 3 meters
The Red Palace contains various chapels and mausoleums of previous
Dalai Lamas. The fifth Dalai Lama's mausoleum is in the west part
of the palace and is five stories high. His enormous chorten, a
mound-like structure containing the remnants of a Buddhist saint,
is gold-covered and inlaid with diamonds, pearls, turquoise, agate
and coral. The whole structure stands 14 meters high.
The White Palace contains the living quarters of successive Dalai
Lamas and their tutors. The offices of the old Tibetan government
and their assembly halls are also located here. The original Potala
was destroyed in the ninth century, during the breakdown of the
Tubo Kingship era. It was rebuilt during the reign of the fifth
Dalai Lama and completed in the late seventeenth century. It had
also became known as the "Winter Palace" by the 1750s, after the
seventh Dalai Lama built the Norbulingka Park, as his summer
The Potala is full of elaborate artwork and frescos that tell many
stories. They portray religious subjects as well as the customs and
traditions of Tibet. The frescos in the west hall depict the life
story of the fifth Dalai Lama. One picture describes an important
meeting between the fifth Dalai Lama and the Chinese Emperor Shun
Zhi in 1652. It was after this meeting that the title Dalai Lama
(Great Ocean) was bestowed on him and successive leaders of Tibet.
The Potala contains many other precious works of art, including
ornately decorated statues, sculptures and Tibetan painting. The
topmost hall in the Potala is called Sasong Langjie. It was built
in 1679, and it contains a portrait of the Qing Emperor Qianlong
bearing the words "A long, long life to the present emperor"
written in Han, Manchu, Mongol and Tibetan. Dalai Lamas have come
to pay homage to this portrait on each Tibetan New Year's Day for
hundreds of years.
The Potala has been a sacred place for hundreds of years. Thousands
of pilgrims from Tibet, other parts of China and abroad come every
year to pay homage. Their devotion is shown by the difficult
journeys they have to make to reach “the City of the Gods".
After the Chinese government resumed its administration over Tibet
in 1950, Potala Palace was listed as a cultural relic under the
special protection of the state. Architecturally, it is considered
to be one of the wonders of the world, admired by the Chinese and
people from around the world.
1.By taxi from the back of the hill. 2.Climbing up from the front
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