Potala Palace: A Former Residence of Dalai Lamas
- by Catherine
- Last Updated: 2023-09-15
Potala Palace (Chinese name 布达拉宫) is an ancient palace located in Lhasa, Tibet, China. Once, Potala Palace was used for Dalai Lamas’ residence and government offices. Now, it is a World Cultural Heritage site and Tibet tourism landmark. Read on and you will find more Potala Palace facts.
Why Is Tibet Potala Palace Important?
Religion And Politics Center
The Tibet Palace is located on Red Mountain (3,700 meters/12,139 feet) in Lhasa city. In the hearts of Buddhists, Red Mountain is like Mount Putuo where Guanyin Bodhisattva lives, so it is called Potala (Sanskrit: Putuo). Countless Potala visitors make pilgrim tours here every year.
Potala is known as Dalai Lamas’ palace. From 1645 to 1959, it was used for 10 Dalai Lamas’ winter residence and government offices, and thus once the center of politics and religion. The 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Dalai Lamas' holy stupas are worshipped in the palace. 8 Dalai Lamas' bodies are placed in the holy stupas.
Potala Palace was built in the 7th century by Songtsen Gampo (the 33rd king of the Tubo Empire) as a present to his bride. After damage, repair, and expansion for centuries, it became the scale of the Tibetan castle seen today. After 1959, the Chinese government took over and built it into a museum and opened it to tourists.
High Artistic Value
Potala Palace is a complex of palaces, castles, and monasteries with the highest elevation in the world. It is worth watching as an outstanding representative of Tibetan architecture. The palace is mainly divided into two parts, the White House and the Red Palace. The Potala’s walls are up to 5 meters thick. The main building is 117 meters/384 feet high, which is the tallest building in Lhasa city.
Its collections are extremely rich, including historical relics, Dalai Lamas’ holy stupas, Buddhist classics, and books on natural subjects. These cultural relics are of great value for studying Tibet's politics, economy, history, and culture.
How To Get To Potala Palace In Lhasa?
The Potala Palace is located on central Beijing Road, just in the center of Lhasa city. There are over 10 other tourist attractions nearby, such as Norbulingka, Tibet Museum, Chakpori Hill and etc. Over 50 Lhasa restaurants are around Potala Palace.
No matter where you are, you can easily reach the Potala Palace.
From Lhasa Airport
- Take the airport bus.
Lhasa Gonggar Airport is located 60 kilometers away from downtown. The airport bus takes 1.5 hours and the fare is 30 yuan. Get off the bus and walk to the Potala Palace for 5 minutes.
Tip: It is best not to go to the Potala Palace as soon as you arrive in Lhasa. Take a rest for a night.
- Take a taxi.
The price is about CNY200. Show the driver a note "Please drive me to XX hotel".
Tip: When you pass the checkpoint on the road, you may need to get off the car to show your Tibet Travel Permit to the inspection workers.
From Railway Station
Lhasa railway station is 9 kilometers away from the Potala Palace. 25 minutes by taxi at CNY30.
From Jokhang Temple
The business circle of Jokhang Temple is 2 km east of the Potala Palace. It takes just 10 min by taxi and 20min for a walk.
From Barkhor Street
Barkhor Street is very close to the Jokhang temple, 25 mins for a walk to the Potala Palace.
Norbulingka is in the west, it takes 15 min by taxi and 25 min for a walk to the Potala Palace.
Travel Agency Vehicle
Great Tibet Tour provides transfer for clients from the airport and railway station to downtown, transport between the main attractions and hotels, and exclusive car service. As long as you need our help, please feel free to contact our trip consultant or our tour guide.
How To Visit Potala Palace?
All tourists must visit with a guided group organized by a Tibet travel agency. To enter the Potala Palace, you need to follow all Tibetan Buddhist taboos, such as not wearing a hat, not taking pictures in the palace, not stepping on the threshold, and so on. The visit time is 1 hour, so do not stay in the palace. After the visit, exit from the west gate of the Potala Palace and walk down the hillside to reach the main entrance of the Potala Palace.
Best Places to Take Photos
It is located on the southwest corner of the Potala Palace, only 600 meters away. Here is the best angle to shoot the Potala Palace, especially halfway up the hill.
Lu Puyansi is next to Chakpori Hill, a small cave-like temple. The temple has a flat terrace, which is good for shooting the Potala Palace from this angle. The angle of view is farther away than Chakpori Hill, and it will be more frontal and three-dimensional. This is a very small spot, and there are very few visitors. Only some Tibetans go to offer incense, ghee, etc. and then take pictures by the way. The entrance fee is 20 yuan.
Potala Palace Square
This is a great place to shoot the night scene of Potala Palace. After eight o'clock in the evening, there will be landscape lighting. But during the off-season, the landscape lights are only partially on.
Artificial lake at the Potala Palace Square
There is a small pool at the Potala Palace Square, which is a good place to photograph the reflections in the water of the Potala Palace.
This park is just behind the Potala Palace. It is a great place to photograph the back and the reflections of the palace. The park is beautiful as well. No tickets are required!
Pabonka is about 8 kilometers north of Potala Palace. It is located on a hillside. Opening hour is 09:00 – 17:00. Free for the charge.
It is located 2km away from the Potala Palace but just south of it. Here is the best location to photograph the Potala Palace and the majestic mountains behind it from a distance. Especially after the snow in winter, the mountains are covered by white ice and snow, and the red and white Potala Palace is particularly beautiful under the pure white background. It is also the best location to overlook the city of Lhasa. The only downside is that climbing the mountain is a bit panting! No admission fee.
Princess Wencheng Drama’s Outfield
It is on the south bank of the Lhasa River and looks north to the Potala Palace.
How to Travel to Lhasa from Beijing？
Many travelers who are visiting Lhasa always take Beijing as the first stop, as it's convenient to fly to Beijing, then get to Lhasa.
How to Travel to Tibet from Beijing?
Traveling to Tibet from Beijing is a good choice as Beijing is an important international arrival hub and you can get to Lhasa by flight or by train here.
Monasteries are an important part of Tibet's scenery as the natural scenery here has already merged with temples, believers, prayer flags, and Tibetans.
How to Get to Tibet?
You can travel to Tibet by flight, train, or road from China OR by flight or road from Nepal. The best way depends on your place of departure and travel plans.
Most Famous Tibetan Monasteries and Temples
Tibetan Monasteries and Temples can be seen everywhere in Tibet. It's no exaggeration to say that Tibetan Buddhism is the foundation of Tibetan culture.
Travel to Tibet from United States
For US citizens, you can travel to Tibet via mainland China or Nepal. You need to apply for China Visa or China Group Visa and obtain your Tibet visa prior.
Travel to Tibet from Singapore
Singapore citizens are recommended to fly to Chengdu and then take a flight or train to Lhasa. Tibet Travel Permit is still an indispensable document for you.
How to Travel to Tibet from Germany?
German travelers can travel to Tibet from Frankfurt to Beijing, Chengdu, etc., and then get to Tibet by flight or train. Or travel to Tibet via Kathmandu.
How to Get to Tibet from Chengdu?
Chengdu to Tibet is a popular tourist route as there are multiple international flights to Chengdu and it's very convenient to travel to Lhasa from Chengdu.
How to Get to Tibet from Philippines?
For tourists from the Philippines to Tibet, you can fly to mainland China or Nepal first and then get to Tibet. The best option is via mainland China.
How to Travel to Tibet from US
Americans can travel to Tibet via Chinese cities such as Beijing by flight or train. You also can travel to Tibet via Kathmandu by land or plane.
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