In possession of rich cultural heritage, Potala Palace is a must-see place of
your Tibet trip. Potala Palace is known as the "pearl on the roof
of the world." It is also a cardinal landmark of the snowy
plateau. Potala Palace is a famous palace-style architectural complex and
outstanding representative of Tibetan architecture, as well as one of the
most famous ancient building wonders in China and the world. It's
been listed on the world cultural heritage list since 1994.
Overview of Potala Palace
Potala Palace, the highest ancient palace in the world, was situated on the
Red Hill of central Lhasa, reaching an altitude of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) at
the topmost point. As a 5A tourism spot on the national level, the Potala
Palace is a must-see travel spot for tourists who wanna explore Tibet. With
profound Buddhist culture, Potala Palace attracts a large number of pilgrims
to pray in this holy place.
The History of Potala Palace
Potala was named after a holy hill in South India, which means "Abode of
the Avalokitesvara (Buddha of Mercy) in Sanskrit word." The Legend of
Potala is dating back to the 7th century, the Tang Dynasty (618B.C. -
907B.C.) of China then Tibet King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-story palace with
a thousand rooms up on the Red Hill for his bride, Princess Wencheng of the
Tang Dynasty and named it Potala Palace. The Potala Palace we see today was
built in the Qing Dynasty. Because the original one is destroyed in the war
when the Songtsen Gampo Dynasty declined.
The Structure of Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is a landmark of Lhasa and Tibet, containing two parts, the
Red Palace and the White Palace. Located on the southern slope of the Red
Hill, the Potala Palace was built along the hill. Potala Palace processes
more than 1000 rooms, chanting hall, seminary, temples, diverse chambers for
worshipping Buddha, and chambers housing the stupas of several Dalai Lamas.
The Red Palace, the center of Potala Palace
The Red Palace, the highest part of the center, was painted entirely to red
to symbolize stateliness and power. It was used for religious study and
Buddhist prayer. The interior was composed of a complicated layout with
different halls, chapels, and libraries each layer. Besides, it processes an
array of smaller galleries and winding passages. Great-West Hall, considered
as the largest hall, with beautiful murals painted on its inner walls, takes
an area of the 725 sq meters (about 7,804 sq ft). There are three chapels
around the Great West Hall, but only the Dharma Cave and the Saint's
Chapel remain constructions of the 7th century with the statues of Songtsen
Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng, and Princess Bhrikuti inside. As the most crucial
part, the Red Palace is the place where you should be during visiting Potala
The White Palace, the wing of Potala Palace
The White Palace or Potrang Karpo once served as the office building of Tibet
local government was painted to white to convey peace and quiet, which was
composed of the living quarters of Dalai Lama. The Great East Hall, occupied
a space of 717 sq meters (about 7,718 sq ft), was the spot for momentous
religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors are served as the
living quarters and offices. The seventh floor（the top floor) is
the Dalai Lama Palace, which consists of two parts, the East Chamber of
Sunshine and the West Chamber of Sunshine, and furnishings are very
luxurious inside. The Dalai Lama palace used to be the place where the 13th
Dalai Lama and 14th Dalai Lama lived in, and also where they conducted the
local government affairs. It was so hierarchical that only senior monks and
officials were allowed in.
Treasures of Potala Palace
Inside the Potala Palace, the walls of all the palaces, halls and corridors
are covered with murals and surrounded by various relievos. Most murals and
sculptures are very colorful and have great historical and artistic value,
with the topics of the plateau scenery, historical legends, Buddhist
stories, construction scene, etc. There are large collections of cultural
relics and treasures, including nearly 10,000 various types of thangkas
(Buddhist scroll paintings), and tens of thousands of Buddha statues made of
gold, silver, jade, wood, and clay. Besides, there are the stupa towers of
the successive Dalai Lama in the past dynasties, the decrees for pardon,
jade seals issued by Ming and Qing emperors, gifts, plaques, scrolls of
Buddhist sutras, crafts, etc. Among all the treasures, the stupas that keep
the corpses of successive Dalai Lama are the most precious.
Good Spots for Photography
Chakpori Hill --- The design photo on the back of 50 RMB bill was
taken at the viewing platform of Chakpori Hill.
Dragon Lake Park (Zongjiao Lukang Park ) --- It's located behind the
Potala Palace. There is a pond in the park that just reflects the backside
of the Potala Palace.
Potala Palace Square --- Before visiting Potala Palace, you can take a
panoramic view of the front part across the road. The night view of the
Potala Palace is also fascinating, especially in the light and shade.
Peak Tourists Season Notes
The Potala Palace implements a pre-sale ticket system from April to October,
and the number of visitors per day is limited to 2,300. Especially during
peak tourist season(July to October), the visit time is no more than 1 hour.
To reserve tickets for the next day after 5 pm, tourists should line
up early in advance to collect the ticket voucher. And the ticket voucher
indicates the visit time of the next day. Please arrive at the palace 30
minutes before your allotted time. Note that if you arrive later than the
time on your voucher (or if you forget your voucher) you can be refused a
1. Visitors all have to enter from the east main entrance.
2. Photography isn't allowed inside the chapels.
3. Not to bring any water, drinks, cosmetics, other liquids as well as
knives, igniters, matches and other articles. If you are carrying the
above items, you should deposit them at the luggage office. When you
come out from the north gate after visiting, you can take back your
4. Take off your hats or sunglasses.
5. Take a coat when visiting Potala Palace as it's a little bit cold
inside the Potala Palace.
6. Not to touch Buddha statues or any cultural relics.
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