Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet

Potala Palace Lhasa, TibetThe Potala Palace, one of the most famous architectural works of the world. It is a symbol of the wisdom and power of the Tibetan people.

Perched upon Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala Palace rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. Early legends concerning the rocky hill tell of a sacred cave, considered to be the dwelling place of the Bodhisattva Chenresi (Avilokiteshvara), that was used as a meditation retreat by Emperor Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century AD. In 637 Songtsen Gampo built a palace on the hill. This structure stood until the seventeenth century, when it was incorporated into the foundations of the greater buildings still standing today. Construction of the present palace began in 1645 during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama and by 1648 the Potrang Karpo, or White Palace, was completed. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was added between 1690 and 1694; its construction required the labors of more than 7000 workers and 1500 artists and craftsman. In 1922 the 13th Dalai Lama renovated many chapels and assembly halls in the White Palace and added two stories to the Red Palace. The Potala Palace was only slightly damaged during the Tibetan uprising against the invading Chinese in 1959. Unlike most other Tibetan religious structures, it was not sacked by the Red Guards during the 1960s and 1970s, apparently through the personal intervention of Chou En Lai. As a result, all the chapels and their artifacts are very well preserved.

From as early as the eleventh century the palace was called Potala. This name probably derives from Mt. Potala, the mythological mountain abode of the Bodhisattva Chenresi (Avilokiteshvara / Kuan Yin) in southern India. The Emperor Songtsen Gampo had been regarded as an incarnation of Chenresi. Given that he founded the Potala Palace, it seems likely that the hilltop palace of Lhasa took on the name of the Indian sacred mountain. The Potala Palace is an immense structure, its interior space being in excess of 130,000 square meters.

Potala Palace Lhasa, TibetFulfilling numerous functions, the Potala Palace was first and foremost the residence of the Dalai Lama and his large staff. In addition, it was the seat of Tibetan government, where all ceremonies of state were held; it housed a school for religious training of monks and administrators; and it was one of Tibet's major pilgrimage destinations because of the tombs of past Dalai Lamas. Within the White Palace are two small chapels, the Phakpa Lhakhang and the Chogyal Drubphuk; dating from the seventh century, these chapels are the oldest surviving structures on the hill and also the most sacred.

The statues of the Tubo King Srongtsan gamoi and his wife Princess Wen Cheng are being worshipped in the Potala Palace. Among the 8 tomb pagodas of the Dalai Lamas, the 5th tomb is the most extravagant.It stands as high as 14m and used 11,000 ounces of gold in its gold plating, and the designs and decorations on them all are inlaid with diamonds, peals, turquoises, agates, corals etc. There also stored the world treasure - the gold hand-written Buddhist scriptures, valuable gifts from the Chinese emperors and a lot of priceless antiques. You will be amazed by the colorful sculptures and paintings. The top most flat glistens with golden roofs.

The Potala Palace's most venerated statue, the Arya Lokeshvara, is housed inside the Phapka Lhakhang, and it draws thousands of Tibetan pilgrims each day.

Addresss: Marpo Ri hil, Lhasa, Tibet
Admission Fee: RMB 300
Opening Hours: 09:00 - 12:00, 14:00 - 17:00
Recommending Time for a Visit: 2 hour
Transportation: you can just walk there, or take taxi
Recommending Index :5 star

  • Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet
  • Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet
  • Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet
  • Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet
  • Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet
  • Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet