The Potala Palace, located on the northwestern Red Hill in the city of Lhasa, is the world’s highest palace as well as the most complete ancient palace in Tibet.
The Potala Palace is a sacred place for Tibetan Buddhism, and countless pilgrims and tourists are visiting Potala Palace every year. In December 1994, UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site, together with the exceptional Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka.
The main building is divided into two parts, the White Palace and the Red Palace. The Potala palace is more than 200 meters high, with 13 floors and 9 floors. Potala Palace Square is located in front of the Potala Palace and is the highest city square in the world. The Potala Palace was originally built for Songtsan Gambo who was the king of the Tubo Dynasty. He built it for marrying Princess Wencheng. In 1645, it became the residence of the Dalai Lama’s Winter Palace, as well as the venue of major religious and political ceremonies. It is also the place to worship the Dalai Lama’s spiritual tower.
1 How to get to Potala Palace
Located in the north of Lhasa, next to the Jokhang Temple with 1.6 km. Usually, the Potala Palace is the first must-see attraction when you travel in Tibet. No matter where you are in Lhasa city, you could have the opportunity to far view of Potala Palace. You can easily get to Potala Palace from your hotel in Lhasa by bus or taxi.
For the flights to Lhasa, there are direct flights to Lhassa airport from those china cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an, Xining and so on. Taking a plane to Lhasa is very easy and convenient. Potala Palace is 70 km away from Lhasa Gonggar Airport. You can take a shuttle bus to Lhasa city from Lhasa airport, then transfer to Potala Palace by taxi. It takes about one hour.
Also, you could take a train to Lhasa along Qinghai-Tibet railway. Potala Palace is 20 km away from Lhasa Railway Station. You will take about 20mins to get to the Palace from Lhasa Railway Station by taxi.
2 The history of Potala Palace
The Potala Palace was built in the 7th century AD by Songtsan Gambo, the first king of the Tubo Kingdom. At the beginning of the 7th century, after Songzan Gampo moved to Lhasa, he built a three-story building with a total of 1,000 palaces, especially the Potala Palace. When the Tubo Kingdom was destroyed, most of the Potala Palace was also destroyed by war.
In 1642, the Fifth Dalai Lama established the political and religious unity of local government. Lhasa has once again become the center of political, religious, cultural and economic in Tibet. In 1645, the Fifth Dalai Lama decided to rebuild the Potala Palace. In 1648, the White House-themed buildings were built, and the administrative office was moved from Drepung Monastery to the White House of the Potala Palace. Since then, the Potala Palace has become an important place for the Dalai Lama to live and conduct religious activities and handle administrative affairs.
With more than 1,300 years of history, the Potala Palace is considered as “the pearl of the roof of the world.” It has a land area of 400,000 square meters and a construction area of 130,000 square meters. It has a palace, a spiritual temple, a hall, a Buddhist temple, a temple, and an important giant office castle with many functions.
3 Potala Palace Highlights
A White Palace in Potala Palace
The White House is the Dalai Lama’s Winter Palace. It was also the seat of the former Tibetan local government office. It is seven stories high. Its walls are painted white to convey serenity. Located on the fourth floor, the East Hall covers an area of 7,17 square meters (approximately 7,718 square feet) and is a venue for major religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors are used as living quarters and offices, while the seventh floor is the highest level. It is the living area of the Dalai Lama.
B Red palace in Potala Palace
The Red Palace is located in the central part of the Potala Palace and the exterior is red. There are 8 spiritual towers which store the Dalai Lama’s body, especially the fifth Dalai Lama’s spiritual tower. It is the largest one. In the west of the Red Palace is the thirteenth Dalai Lingta Tower, which built-in 1936. It’s the latest building of the Potala Palace. In addition to the Spirit Tower, the tower also houses a silver-made 13th Dalai Lama and a ”Manzha” made of 200,000 pearls and coral beads.
C Cultural relics in Potala Palace
For more than 300 years, the Potala Palace has been cherished with many cultural heritages such as murals, stupas, statues, Thangka, and rare scriptures.
The exquisite murals constitute a huge painting art gallery. Nearly 200 people have participated in the mural painting, and have used it for more than ten years. The theme of murals includes the history of Tibetan Buddhism, the life of the fifth Dalai Lama, the process of Princess Wencheng’s entry into Tibet, the image of ancient Tibetan architecture.
4 The best place to photograph Potala Palace
Potala Place is a must-see attraction in Lhasa with the spectacular architecture. It attracts a lot of shutter worms, appreciates it and takes many beautiful photos. There are three beautiful places to shoot the Potala Palace.
A Chakpori Mountain
Chakpori Mountain, also known as Yaowang Mountain, is a sacred hill on the streets of the Potala Palace. On the Chakpori Mountain, you could find many well-preserved Buddha statues dating back 1000 years. Also, it’s the best place to view the Potala Palace.
B Zongjiao Lugang Park
Religious Lukang Park, literally behind the palace, is adjacent to the Potala Palace. The locals consider it to be the best resort with bridges, lakes, birds, fish, green trees and various flowers. The park is also equipped with some entertainment facilities. Here you can take the best photo of the inverted reflection of the Potala Palace from the lake.
C Palace Square
On the square in front of the Potala Palace, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Potala Palace. In the morning, you can also take photos of local Tibetans around the Potala Palace. If you visit the Potala Palace at night, you can stand in the Plaza Palace and enjoy the night view of the Potala Palace.
5 Useful Travel Tips of Potala Palace
1) The best time to visit Potala Palace
Normally, the Potala Palace can be visited in all seasons, as Lhasa is usually mild throughout the year. But if you also want to extend your trip to Lhasa to other areas, such as Namtso or Everest, from April to November is the best time.
2)Limited Tickets and Restricted Visiting Time For Potala Palace
The ticket fee of Potala Palace is RMB200. In winter, it may be free to visit according to the policy of the Tibet Tourism Bureau. As the Potala Palace is the first must-see attraction for the most travel who came from all over the world. So it may be crowded when it’s peak seasons. Besides, Potala Palace is allowed less than 2,300 travelers to enter during 9:00-16:00 of each day, excepting Holidays & big event. Also, you need to book the ticket for Potala Palace one day in advance. What’s more, it has time to limited to visit Potala Palace within one hour. You are suggested to arrange the time to visit Potala Palace and other attraction in a day.
3) Etiquette and taboo for visiting Potala Palace
Since the Potala Palace is an important Buddhist place, you are suggested to wear long sleeves and trousers with no hat. Please don’t point your finger at the statue, remember to take off your sunglasses when you visit the lobby.
4) Be ready for many steps
Located at an altitude of 3,700 meters, you need to climb the top of the Potala Palace from the South Gate and cover more than 1,000 steps. Climbing time is not counted towards your “1-hour” limit. Follow the climbing method and make sure to stop and take a break.
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