Potala Palace, Lhasa

5 May 2010 - 10:40am Comments Off

The Potala Palace in Lhasa was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenrezig or Avalokitesvara. It was the chief residence of the Spiritual Head of Tibetan Buddhism until the recent exodus to Dharamsala, India, after an invasion and failed uprising in 1959.

The Potala Palace in Lhasa

The original site was used as a meditation retreat by King Songtsen Gampo, who in 637 built the first palace there in order to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty of China. Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, then started the construction of the Potala Palace in 1645 as the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa.

View from the Potala Palace

The White Palace or Potrang Karpo is the part of the Potala Palace that makes up the living quarters. The palace was for secular uses and contained the living quarters, offices, the seminary and the printing house. The Red Palace or Potrang Marpo, on the other side of the Potala is the part of the palace that is completely devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer. It consists of a complicated layout of many different halls, chapels and libraries on many different levels, including the sacred gold stupas of eight Dalai Lamas.

Devout Buddhists prostrate while circumambulating the Potala

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. The Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

The Potala from afar

Today the Potala Palace has been converted into a museum by the Chinese government.

For more information about tours to the Potala Palace, please contact discovery@kechara.com or call +603 7803 3546.

Holy images within the Potala


The Potala Palace by night

The Potala Palace is a place of pilgrimage for many

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