Lhasa The Potala Palace, Tibet China

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Potala Palace

Located in Lhasa, on top of the Red Mountain, at an altitude of 3700 meters, there is the symbol of Tibet - The Potala Palace.

This was the main residence of the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama. The Potala Palace, an administrative, religious and political complex, owns the beauty and originality of its architecture seen nowhere else in the world.

The grand palace covers an area of 10,000 square meters and is 115 meters high. The whole complex is 13 stories high and contains about 1000 rooms. It contains a seminary, a printing workshop, living quarters, shrines, reliquary monuments, and an assembly hall for the monks.

Potala Palace was built by Songtsen Gampo in Seventh century. This structure stood until the seventeenth century, when it was incorporated into the foundations of the greater buildings that's 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.

When ascending the roomy stone steps, you will see the east and west gates of the Potala Palace. Following the steps up, you will find the Deyang mansion. It was the place that Dalai Lama enjoyed dramas before. It covers an area of 2,000 square meters. The south and north of the platform is the former address of monk officer's school. Long ago the medium level monk officers were cultivated here.

The western part of the platform is White Palace. Going into the lobby of White Palace, you will see a small and steep wooden ladder. Please note, you must go up via the side ladders of either side, the middle ladder is to be used only by Dalai Lama and the minister of Ch'ing Dynasty in Tibet.

On the lobby wall, there's drawing of the scene of the story of the princess Wencheng entering Tibet. The south of lobby is the law book sealed by the Fifth Dalai Lama. This law book is very precious and it is a historical clue of studying the Tibetan history in 17th century.

The Potala Palace comprises of two main parts, named after the color of their exterior walls: the White Palace and the inner Red Palace. The main body of the White Palace is Dalai Lama's sleeping room. At the top are the east and west daylight palaces. The west daylight palace is the sleeping room of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the east is for the Fourteenth Lama.

Right below this palace is the east hall of White Palace, "CuoCh'ingSha", which is the biggest palace in White Palace containing 44 pillars. To the north of it is the throne of Dalai Lama. Above the throne there is a horizontal tablet written by Ch'ing Emperor Tungchih.

In 1653, the Shunzhi Emperor of Ch'ing Dynasty granted the Fifth Dalai Lama of noble titles. Later when every Dalai Lama takes over the reins of Tibetan government, the Imperial Minister in Tibet would hold the ceremony here.

The Red Palace was built after the Fifth Dalai Lama died. The main body is Dalai Lama's corpus tower palace and the Buddhist palace. Across from the east palace is the west palace of White Palace. It is the Fifth Dalai Lama's corpus tower palace, covering an area of over 680 square meters. It has 48 pillars. It is contented fine carved pillars and arches. The wall paintings are magnificent, drawing the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama.

Around the west palace, there are three side palaces besides the Dalai Lama's palace in the west. The side palace mainly offers the portraits of Gautama and the deceased Dalai Lama. There are the Buddha of Bayaoshi, the Third Buddha and the Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh Dalai Lama's corpus tower palaces.

Entering the north side palace from the back, there is a gift given by the Emperor Yongzheng, to the Seventh Dalai Lama, the Tibetan scripture of Beijing edition "Ganzhuer". Eastside palace is the Buddhist palace of heaven, mainly offering the forefather Tsongkhapa of Shamanism.

There are more than 70 pontiffs statues in the history of Tibetan Buddha. The south side palace is the Chiming Buddha palace, mainly offering silver sitting portrait of Lianhuasheng and his eight incarnation bronze statues. All these have symbol significance of Buddha dharma.

A corridor in the west palace above "Sixipingcuo" is a well-known wall-painting porch. The 698 wall-paintings were drawn by more than 400 Tibetan painters. Many contents are about religion such as various kinds of Buddha, Bodhisattva, the God of protecting law, portraits of all Dalai Lamas, Tibetan pontiffs and stories about the Buddhist history.

Many historical scenes recur here, such as wedding of Wencheng princess, building the Dazhao Temple and the Potala Palace, the meeting up of the Fifth Dalai Lama and Emperor Shunzhi, the meeting of Gushihan and the Fifth Dalai Lama and many pictures describing Tibetan traditions.

The traditional style of Han people is used on the golden top of the Potala Palace. God palaces are decorated with the pavilion style gold tops, big and small lotus-shaped clocks, Mojie fish that makes the God palace uniform and magnificent. When you are in the God palace, you will be shocked by its magnificent craftsmanship.

There are many historical places of interests at the foothills of the Potala Palace. There is a board without word, set up when rebuilding the Potala Palace in Ch'ing Dynasty. Two of the tablets of Kangxi, were moved to the back hill of Longfwang. Pool Park when the road are being repair, that is an elegant and quiet place, due to the effect of strong wind there, many old willows trees around the pool are grown strange looking.

Legend say when building the palace, people used too much soil and excavated the low-lying land. There is a small island in the center of the pool and a building on the island was build according to the style of the Altar City. These make the Garden more beautiful and elegant.

It is the scene of audience of the Fifth Dalai Lama and Emperor Shunzhi in 1652 and the color is bright and vivid. On the shelf of the corpus tower palace, there are complete scripture of Lhasa edition "Ganzhuer" printed by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama before death. Inside the palace, there is the graceful Mantuoluo (Altar City) clustered 20,000 pearls, corals, agates etc.

The Fifth and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama are the two spirits leaders that Tibetan held in esteem the most. In late 1933, after the Thirteenth Dalai Lama perfect rest, Tibetan built a corpus tower palace for him because his contributions and political achievements. The specification of the corpus tower palace relies with the Fifth Dalai Lama.

In 1934, the palace of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama commenced and it took three years. It is the last construction of the Potala Palace. The palace is 14 meters high, only 0.86 meters lower than that of the Fifth Dalai Lama's. However, the gold used for foil reaches 590 kilograms. Inside the palace, the murals are the Thirteenth Dalai Lama's biography, and a scene of interviewing Cixi and Emperor Guangxu in Beijing in 1908.

The Red Palace is the place of offering and commemorating ancestors. In the middle of the Red Palace, there are Fawang cave and Pabalakang. In the 2-layer Fawang cave is the place that Songzanganbu practiced, offering the statues of Songzanganbu, Wencheng princess, Chizun princess, Mengsachijiang imperial concubine and the close minister Tunmisangbuzha and Ludongzan.

People believe that the works in Tufan time. In the cave there are Tufan forefather's remnants such as stove, stone pot and stone mortar. These add the old cave more mystery. The 3-layer Pabalakang is also called Guanyin palace, tablet written four by Emperor Tongzhi is mount there.

On both sides of the Pabaluosangxianran Buddha there are statues of Fifth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Dalai Lama, Tsongkhapa and Lianhuasheng. There is an interesting stone, with a footprint on that legend said the Twelfth Dalai Lama's footprint when he was young.

Shushengsanjie, the highest place in the Red Palace, was built in 1690. In this palace there are a portrait and memorial tablet of Qianlong Emperor of Ch'ing Dynasty. At that time, Dalai Lama offered pray here regularly.

In the west of Shushengsanjie there is Gandanji palace, also named the land of Ultimate Bliss. This was once the Sixth Dalai Lama's palace. It is a sole place of the Sixth Dalai Lama's remains. There are Dalai Lama's throne and the platform around offered Buddha. The Sixth Dalai Lama was a literati and left many beautiful poems.

Legand said that the Longwang Pool Park at the back of the Potala Palace was the place that he met regularly with his lovers in those years.