Tour Guide Hiring & Car Rental Service in China

Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the Potala Palace in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress, called the White or Red Palace, on the site built by Songtsen Gampo in 637. Today, the Potala Palace is a museum.
The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 m. thick, and 5 m. (more than 16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. Thirteen stories of buildings – containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues – soar 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the “Red Hill”, rising more than 300 m (about 1,000 ft) in total above the valley floor.
Tradition has it that the three main hills of Lhasa represent the “Three Protectors of Tibet.” Chokpori, just to the south of the Potala, is the soul-mountain (bla-ri) of Vajrapani, Pongwari that of Manjushri, and Marpori, the hill on which the Potala stands, represents Chenresig or Avalokiteshvara.

The site on which the Potala Palace rises is built over a palace erected by Songtsän Gampo on the Red Hill. The Potala contains two chapels on its the northwest corner that conserve parts of the original building. One is the Phakpa Lhakhang, the other the Chogyel Drupuk, a recessed cavern identified as Songtsän Gampo’s meditation cave. Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the modern Potala Palace in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. The external structure was built in 3 years, while the interior, together with its furnishings took 45 years to complete. The Dalai Lama and his government moved into the Potrang Karpo (‘White Palace’) in 1649. Construction lasted until 1694, some twelve years after his death. The Potala was used as a winter palace by the Dalai Lama from that time. The Potrang Marpo (‘Red Palace’) was added between 1690 and 1694.

The new palace got its name from a hill on Cape Comorin at the southern tip of India—a rocky point sacred to the bodhisattva of compassion, who is known as Avalokitesvara, or Chenrezi. The Tibetans themselves rarely speak of the sacred place as the “Potala,” but rather as “Peak Potala” (Tse Potala), or usually as “the Peak.

The palace was slightly damaged during the Tibetan uprising against the Chinese in 1959, when Chinese shells were launched into the palace’s windows. It also escaped damage during the Cultural Revolution in 1966 through the personal intervention of Zhou Enlai, who was then the Premier of the People’s Republic of China. Still, almost all of the over 100,000 volumes of scriptures, historical documents and other works of art were either removed, damaged or destroyed.

The Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 2000 and 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka were added to the list as extensions to the sites. Rapid modernisation has been a concern for UNESCO, however, which expressed concern over the building of modern structures immediately around the palace which threaten the palace’s unique atmosphere. The Chinese government responded by enacting a rule barring the building of any structure taller than 21 metres in the area. UNESCO was also concerned over the materials used during the restoration of the palace, which commenced in 2002 at a cost of RMB180 million (US$22.5 million), although the palace’s director, Qiangba Gesang, has clarified that only traditional materials and craftsmanship were used. The palace has also received restoration works between 1989 to 1994, costing RMB55 million (US$6.875 million).

The number of visitors to the palace was restricted to 1,600 a day, with opening hours reduced to six hours daily to avoid over-crowding from 1 May 2003. The palace was receiving an average of 1,500 a day prior to the introduction of the quota, sometimes peaking to over 5,000 in one day. Visits to the structure’s roof was banned after restoration works were completed in 2006 to avoid further structural damage. Visitorship quotas were raised to 2,300 daily to accommodate a 30% increase in visitorship since the opening of the Qingzang railway into Lhasa on 1 July 2006, but the quota is often reached by mid-morning.[19] Opening hours were extended during the peak period in the months of July to September, where over 6,000 visitors would descend on the site.

You may also like:

Weibao Hills Weibao Mountain (Mt. Towering Treasures) is located in the south of Weishan County about 70 km. north of Dali. The mountain looks like a crouching lion who turns its head back and looks at the county seat and the belt-like Guajiang River in the mist. The giant dam of ...
Nanxun Ancient Town Located on the Hangjiahu (Hangzhou-Jiaxing-Huzhou) Plain of the Yangtze River Delta, to the east of Huzhou City in northern Zhejiang Province and adjacent to Suzhou City of Jiangsu Province, Nanxun Ancient Town once was the richest among the six ancient towns in the J...
Temple of Heaven The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile visiting place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to ...
Nanjing Road China's premier shopping street, 3.4-mile-long Nanjing Road, starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jing'an Temple and Yan'an West Street. Today it is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting thousands of fashion-seeking shoppers ...
Jinsuo Islet Jinsuodao (Golden Shuttle Island), also called the Island of the Sea, lies in the southeast part of Erhai Lake and stands far apart opposite the Erhai Park at a distance. Lying 13 km. away from Xiaguan Harbour, it is one of the scenic spots for a boat ride in the lake...
Banpo Museum The Banpo Museum is located in the eastern outskirt of Xian City, Shaanxi Province. As the first museum at the prehistoric site, it was built at the base of the excavations of the Banpo site. Since it opened to the public formally in 1958, two million people have visi...
Yuhu Village Yuhu Village is the last village in the Lijiang Basin at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The houses were made of a unique stone called "monkey head" by Naxi people. The stone is something between stone and mud. With the reflction of the stone on the snow mo...
Leshan Giant Buddha The Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya (a Bodhisattva usually represented as a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face and with his naked breast and paunch exposed to view) in sitting posture. The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan P...
Wu Hou Shrine (Memorial Temple of Marquis Wu) Wu Hou Shrine (Memorial Temple of Marquis Wu) is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, the Martial Marquis of Shu in the Three Kingdoms Period. Zhuge Liang was the personification of noble character and intelligence. Memorial architectures erected in many places after his deat...
Fubo Hill About 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from Elephant Trunk Hill and above the western bank of Li River Scenery , there towers Wave-Subduing Hill (Fubo Hill), another of Guilin's wonderfully scenic spots. It reaches the height of 213 meters (698.8 feet) and emerges 62 meters ...