Norbulingka also called Lhasa People’s Park is the summer palace of Dalai Lama and the site of World Cultural Heritage. In Tibetan language, it means “Treasure Park”. Located on the west side of downtown Lhasa, Norbulingka currently is the largest and comprehensive public park with most historical sites and best landscape in Lhasa, and also the national key tourist attractions in Tibetan region. Over the past, Dalai Lama used to move to Norbulingka from Potala Palace for leisure and political administration in summer. Originally, Norbulingka was the site of hot spring, and the seventh Dalai Lama built the first palace there to relieve his arthritis. Norbulingka building complex actually featured of the Tibetan classical gardens and comprised of 374 houses or mansions is gradually extended by the seventh Dalai Lama and his successors in different periods. Nowadays, Norbulingka has three parts. The east part including the entrance and the rear of pavilion of suppressing three worlds(Weizhen Sanjie Pavilion, 威镇三界阁) ; The middle part is the core of Norbulingka, the part of palace complex; the west part is the natural forest for outdoor leisure. The garden structure of Norbulingka is both featured of the characteristics of Tibet plateau and the traditional Chinese gardening arts.
Generally, visitors begin their trip from east entrance, and the ticket price of Norbulingka is 60 RMB per person, and usually the gardens are guarded by policeman, visitors are forbidden to take photos in the palaces. Norbulingka is the complex of religion and politics as well as private life. The history of palaces releases the historical succession of Tibet. Starting from the seventh Dalai Lama to the 14th Dalai Lama, nearly each of them had his own palace in this garden. The palace is Tibetan language is pronounced as Pozhang(颇章). The most famous palaces in Norbulingka are represented by Lake Central Palace (湖心宫), Pavilion of Suppressing Three Worlds , Gesangpozhang Palace(格桑颇章), New Palace (新宫), Jinse Lingka including Jinse Palace(金色林卡), and each palace is comprised of three sections: the front area, the palace area and the forest area. The other important attractions in Norbulingka also include Deer Garden (鹿园), Monkey Hill (猴山) and Stadium for Children (游乐园) .
Gesangpozhang palace is the oldest one in Norbulingka summer palace, originally built by the seventh Dalai Lama. According to the historical records, the original of Norbulingka is a wild land and the habitats of wild animals, the old route of Lhasa River went through this area and finally formed the geographic conditions of this palace complex. There was a spring over there, and the weak seventh Dalai Lama used to annually go to bathing in summer. The local governor of central government of China requested to build a leisure site for Dalai Lama. It was approved, and a palace called Liangting Palace was built up. In 1751, the seventh Dalai Lama also built a three-storey palace named after his name on the east side of Liangting Palace. This palace played the role of administrative site and meeting room of Dalai Lama in summer. Since then, each Dalai Lama follows this tradition. The main hall of Gesangpozhang Palace is roughly a Buddhist hall and the center of the hall is exhibited with Buddha statues. But the whole hall is a little bit dark. The Buddhists sacrifice the local products like ghee to the Buddha. And these sacrifices will be given to the poor in charity after exhibited for several days. The main of the hall is mainly highlighted with the throne of the seventh Dalai Lama, and the in front of the throne, visitor can see the picture or photo of the seventh Dalai Lama. On both sides of the throne, there are the statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva, specially the statues of aspects of Guanyin bodhisattva and Longevity Buddha. It was said that the Dalai Lama was the aspect of Guanyin Bodhisattva and Panchen Lama was the aspect of Longevity Buddha.
Norbulingka Lake Central Palace
Lake Central Palace called Cuojiepozhang Palace in Tibetan language was built by the 8th Dalai Lama he used to hold party here. It is maybe the most beautiful site in Norbulingka. The whole gardening art largely follows the Han garden style, a little bit like the Suzhou classical gardens. The main buildings are Lake Central Palace and Dragon King Palace. The west side of Lake Central Palace is a building called Zhongzengpozhang Palace with two floors, where used to be the study room of Dalai Lama.
Jinse Palace and Jingselinka Scenic Area
Jinse palace is the important palace complex of west palace area in Norbulingka. Originally built in 1926, it has a large scare and is one of three huge palaces in Norbulingka. The Jinse(金色) means the favored figure in Tibetan language, the construction manager was a trusted follower of the 13th Dalai Lama. So the palace was named after this follower, whose name was Jinsegongbila, and this palace was understood to be the Palace of the Favored. The surrounding area plus this palace is widely called Jinse Linka together. The front area of Jinse palace is a huge square with a size of over 6,800 square meters. The middle of the square is an alleyway connecting to the palace. Two sides of the way are trees of pines, cypresses, poplars and apricots. The front of palace is four old cypress trees. The whole palace is surrounded by wall and in the big garden, diversity of flowers are blooming in all seasons. The corridors of the garden are highlighted with two automobiles originally used by Dalai Lama. The automobiles are said to be moved to Tibet in the form of disassembly when through the Himalaya Ranges. The architecture of the palace is luxuriously decorated. The Jinse Palace is comprised of three floors. The ground floor is the meeting room, in which the 13th Dalai Lama met the officials, local celebrities and superior monks. The second is the sitting room of guests. The third floor is for holding the religious rite. By the way, some parts of the murals in palace are featured of Chinese style like the themes including Mountain Wutai and Longevity Hill plus the murals standing for blessing, emolument, longevity and happiness.
Dadanmingjiu Palace or New Palace
Dadanmingjiu palace widely called New Palace located on the north side of Norbulingka east palace area is opposite to the Lake Central Palace. New palace was built for the 14th Dalai Lama in 1954 after the peaceful liberation of Tibet. This is the largest palace in Norbulingka, and takes more than three years for construction. The whole palace is quite magnificent and the interior layout is similar to others. There is a fountain in front of the palace and a bamboo forest along the alleyway is quite eye-catching, because it is the only site that visitors can see the bamboo in Tibet region.
By the way, in the west side of Norbulingka palace, there is a huge zoo comprised of Monkey Hill, Deer Garden and Stadium of Children. The ticket price is 10 yuan.