CHINESE :布达拉宫 Bùdálā Gōng /boo-daa-laa gong/
ALTITUDE :3,700 m (12,139 ft)
LOCATION:35 Beijing Middle Rd, Chengguan District, Lhasa, China; or 2km west of Jokhang Temple.
BUILDER: Songtsen Gampo in 637 AD; 5th Dalai Lama in 17th century
TYPE: World Heritage Site, Architectural Buildings, Castles, Religious Sites.
BEST SEASON TO VISIT: Summer / Autumn
HISTORY: More than 1300 years
The Potala Palace is a landmark structure that is seen from anywhere in Lhasa city. It’s the most iconic building in Tibet. It represents the Tibetan architecture of the early centuries. Thousands of visitors worldwide travel to Tibet to witness this amazing piece of the landmark structure. It was listed on the world cultural heritage site in 1994.
Potala Palace, constructed on the Red Hill of Lhasa, is said to be the highest ancient palace in the world, which is elevated at 3,700 meters above sea level. It is one of the must-visit places in Lhasa. It represents the entire Tibetan Buddhist culture and civilization of ancient Tibet.
It was first built in the 7th century by Tibet King Songtsen Gampo, with only nine floors and hundreds of rooms. Later the 5th Dalai Lama rebuilt the entire palace, which we witness today, and it was renovated several times. The palace has two parts, which are Red Palace and White Palace. The Red Palace is at the center, which we witness today, and the White Palace is the palace’s wings. The Red palace is mainly for the worshipers which where all kinds of temples, praying halls, chapels, and libraries are situated.
Whereas the White palace was mainly residences of successive Dalia Lamas, it was also the office of the Tibetan government. This was the place where all the political events were held. It was the symbol of Tibet, like the Taj Mahal of India.
Tibetans were highly skilled laborers in painting, carpentering, and designing. The palace is filled with beautiful ancient arts and crafts all over the palace. Those arts represent the historical events in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism’s influence for centuries. Each room is piled with ancient murals, statues, and Buddhist text, which are centuries old. The statues are in gold, silver, copper, and brass, the collection of Buddhist scriptures, and the stupas that keep the successive Dalai Lama corpses. These are considered to be the most sacred objects of the Palace.
On the right side of the Palace, there is a small hill which is known as Chakpori. It is the best place to take beautiful photos of Potala Palace, both day and night shots. Then there is another place I want to mention: the Dragon Lake located right behind the Palace. It sort of a pond, in the morning there will be lots of birds and Tibetan ducks. There is a Potala Palace Square, which is right in Infront of the Palace. This is the best place to take videos as the Potala Palace will be the perfect background, especially at night view is amazing.
The Potala Palace carries out a pre-sale ticket system from April to October, and the number of visitors per day is down to 2,300. Especially during peak tourist season(July to October), the visit time is no more than 1 hour. To reserve tickets for the next day after 5 pm, tourists should line up early to collect the ticket voucher. And the ticket voucher indicates the visit time of the next day. Please arrive at the palace 30 minutes before your allotted time. Note that if you arrive later than the time on your voucher (or if you forget your voucher), you will be refused to enter.