- Location: No. 35, Beijing Middle Road, Chengguan District, Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
- Recommended reason: The symbol of Tibet; the holy land for Tibetan Buddhism
- Opening hours: 9:30-12:00, 15:30-16:30
- Office website: http://www.potalapalace.cn/home.html
As the symbol of Tibet, Potala Palace is located on the Mountain Maburi of Lhasa, Tibet. "Potala Palace" is a transliteration of Sanskrit, referring to the island where Guanyin Bodhisattva lives, so it's also known as the second Mountain Putuo. Potala Palace is not only the magnificent architecture with the highest altitude in the world, integrating palaces, castles and monasteries, but also the largest and most complete ancient palace complex in Tibet. Potala Palace is an outstanding representative of ancient Tibetan architecture, also the essence of ancient Chinese architecture. The scenery pattern on the back of China Yuan is Potala Palace.
History of Potala Palace
Potala Palace was built in the seventh century AD and it has a history of more than 3,000 years. In 641AD, in order to rule Tibet and consolidate the power, Songtsen Gampo moved the ruling center to Potala Palace. It's said that Songtsen Gampo built Potala Palace (formerly "Palace on Mountain Maburi") for defending against foreign aggression. Another story goes that Songtsen Gampo built Potala Palace for marrying the Princess Wen Cheng of Tang Dynasty. Since then, the king set up administration areas, official posts, systems and legislative laws here. He governed Tibet, dispatched and welcomed envoys to and from neighboring countries, or formed in-law relationships with neighboring countries, which strengthened the economic and cultural exchange with the surrounding nationalities as well as promoted the prosperity of Tubo society. As a royal palace, Potala Palace became an economic, political and cultural center.
There were three nine-story buildings with a thousand palaces. However, after the demise of Tubo Dynasty, most of the ancient palaces were destroyed by two big accidents. One was that the Golden Peak of Potala Palace was struck by lightning, and the other was that Potala Palace was heavily destroyed by wars because the last King Gldarma opposed Buddhism. The scale of Potala Palace reduced to even only two palaces, and was incorporated into Jokhang Temple as a branch.
In 1645, the fifth Dalai Lama rebuilt Potala Palace and his general manager established a coffin tower for him in 1693. After that, the Dalai Lamas of the following dynasties built five golden peaks and some annexes, finally forming the current scale of Potala Palace. Potala Palace was listed in the first batch of national key cultural relics protection units in 1961 and was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1994.
The Structure of Potala Palace
Potala Palace was built down the hillside with overlapping buildings. This imposing palace is an outstanding representative of ancient Tibetan architecture. Covering a ground area of 360,000 square meters and a total construction area of 130,000 square meters, Potala Palace has 13 floors with a height of 110 meters. The main building (117 meters in height) consists of the White Palace and the Red Palace. They were named after the color of the exterior wall. The overall Potala Palace is a stone-wood structure and the foundation was directly buried in the rock layer. The exterior walls were made of granites with a thickness of 2-5 meters and a height of more than 10 meters. The walls were poured with iron liquid to reinforce it and enhance the aseismic capability.
The roof of Potala Palace was made of wood and covered by bronze tiles. With the style of Han Dynasty, the shining saddle roof and pointed roof were decorated with the gilding treasure vase, the scorpionfish and the sutra pillar inscribed with Buddhist scriptures. The wall was decorated with gilt bronze ornaments, and the patterns are eight treasures of Buddhism with a strong Tibetan Buddhism style. The flat tamarisk walls, the glittering golden peaks, the gilding treasure vases and the red streamers add radiance and beauty to each other. The contrasting colors of red, white and golden create a visual concussion with a distinct personality. Potala Palace can be truly called a palace of art.
Highlights of Potala Palace
Potala Palace is the winter palace of Dalai Lama where lamas live and work, also the ruling center of the integration of politics and religion of the local government in Tibet. White Palace consists of two portions. The oldest existing building in the Potala Palace is the Dharma-King Cave. Located on the top of the Mountain Maburi, the Dharma-King Cave covers an area of about 30 square meters. Dharma-King Cave worships the statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng and Nepalese Princess Chi Zun.
The bedroom of Dalai Lama lies on the top of the Potala Palace. A part of the roof can open and the whole day's sunshine can come streaming through the roof, so it's also called "Sunlight Hall". The West Sunlight Hall is the original one, while the East Sunlight Hall is the copied one. The layout of the two halls is similar. There are worship halls, chapels, study rooms and bedrooms inside the Sunlight Hall. The furnishings are very luxurious.
Red Palace is located in the center of the Potala Palace. The palace adopts the layout of mandala. There are many scripture halls and Buddha halls around the Dalai Lama's coffin towers, connecting with the White Palace. There are five coffin towers of the Dalai Lama in Red Palace with the same shape but different scales. In front of the Red Palace, there is a white soaring wall called the Buddha Show Platform for hanging tapestries of the large Buddha statues during Buddhist festivals.
Best time to visit Potala Palace
The best time to visit the Potala Palace is from March to October.
Organize a Tibet tour with private guides: 13 Days China Tibet Tour
How to Get to Potala Palace
♦ Potala Palace is located in the city center, so it's very convenient for tourists to get there by taxi.
♦ You can take the public bus No. 8 to Medicine Mountain Open Fair Station.
♦ If you depart from Beijing East Road, you can walk to the Potala Palace.
Tips for visiting Potala Palace
♦ Please follow the rule of the scenic spot and respect the taboos of Tibetan Buddhism during your visit to the Potala Palace.
♦ Do not wear sunglasses, hats or skirts when you enter the Potala Palace.
♦ No photos can be taken in the hall, nor can you step on the threshold with your feet.
♦ There is a strict security check before you enter the Potala Palace. Don’t take restricted knives, flammable and explosive items, liquid beverages, etc.
♦ No admission after 15:00.