Destinations

Must Visit Places : Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

December 6, 2011 by

Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

This ancient architectural complex is considered a model of Tibetan architecture. Located on the Red Hill in Lhasa, Tibet, it is 3,700 meters above sea level and covers an area of over 360,000 square meters, measuring 360 meters from east to west and 270 meters from south to north. The palace has 13 stories, and is 117 meters high.

In 641, Songtsan Gambo, ruler of the Tubo Kingdom, had the Potala Palace built for Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty, whom he was soon to marry. This structure was later burned to the ground during a war and was rebuilt in the 17th century by the Fifth Dalai Lama. Repeated repairs and expansions until 1645 finally brought the palace to its present scale. Over the past three centuries, the palace gradually became a place where the Dalai Lama lived and worked and a place for keeping the remains of successive Dalai Lama.

The Potala Palace is an immense structure, its interior space being in excess of 130,000 square meters. Fulfilling numerous functions, the Potala 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 Potala’s most venerated statue, the Arya Lokeshvara, is housed inside the Phapka Lhakhang, and it draws thousands of Tibetan pilgrims each day.



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