Potala Palace will be the first thing that will make an assurance that you are in Tibet. If you are starting your Tibet tour from Lhasa. In stood towering above the old Lhasa area, which is also known as Tibetan quarter to many returning visitors. We will have a first glimpse when you are crossing the bridge after the Lhasa’s Train station. The palace will appear behind the small hill in Mid Lhasa.
History of Potala Palace
The Palace was built surrounding the meditation cave of King Songtsen Gampo of Seventh century Tibet. He is a king which unifies Tibetan tribe and adopt Buddhism as the official religion. The location of Potala palace has now become central of Lhasa but in old days it is located at the western edge of Lhasa city. The palace was built on top of the Marpo Ri hill and the hill looks like an elephant in the sleeping pose. It is currently a biggest functional man-made structure in Tibet and it’s list under UNESCO world heritage site list.
Potala, The name derived from the name legendary adobe of Lord of compassion Avalokiteswara. Tibetan believes that there is a close tie between him and Tibetan people, which is why we believe King Songtsen Gampo is a manifestation of the Lord himself. It also serves as an official resident to all the Tibetan rulers how ruled Tibet from Lhasa. The palace is further expanded by the great fifth Dalai Lama in the 15th century.
Potala Palace architecture
The Potala like any other medieval architecture is heavy at the bottom and light at the top. The thickness wall of the palace is said to be more them eight meters. We will see the example at the entrance of the palace. On the top, it is designed to be light and they used sticks from straw to make the wall, which gives the stability and the strength. The Potala Palace is a great example of Tibetan architecture in the seventh century. Some observer also says it has the functionality of aerodynamic against the strong wind of high altitude of Tibet. But I will leave this to your observation.
Every year, thousands of devotees would donate white paint, milk, and sugar for the painting of the palace. We used the sugar and milk in the paint. The sugar gives the function of stickiness to the pain. and the white paint is not painted using the brush rather we would flash the paint by hand in the lower section and we would use the pipe of paint the higher sections from the top. A daredevil would use the rope to guide the pipe from halfway down on the slope of the building.
The travelers guide to Potala Palace
Since the building is old and under the preservation of the government. There are many regulations for the palace.
- First, the travelers cant bring any eatables and drinks in the Palace. So it is advisable for the visitor not to drink in the palace. We do understand the importance of staying hydrated in the high altitude and under the searing heat of the sun. There is a stall up in the Deyang Shar courtyard of Namgyal Monastery.
- It’s the very sacred place and it contains lots of sacred objects displayed inside the palace. which is why it is not allow to take pictures inside the palace.
- You will have to climb up about 300 meters above the ground level for the tour to Potala Palace. So it is advised to delay the visit to the time you are properly accommodated with the high altitude and dry atmosphere of Lhasa. If you do not accommodate well and if you have a group member in the elderly age, please bring the walking stick for climbing up to the palace.
Here are some of the Potala palace fun facts
- It’s not built at one time. The palace was extended so many times in the history.
- Milk and Sugar are used with other ingredients to make the paint.
- The palace house a many precious stones, many of which are said to be a single piece in this world
Here are some other interesting post, you might like to read.
- History of Tibet
- Ramoche Temple ར་མོ་ཆེ་དགོན་པ་
- Why visit Tibet
- Top 100 Travel Guidelines, The conclusive Tibet Travel Guide
- How to avoid High altitude sickness in Tibet
- 2018 Latest Tibet Travel Permit and Travel information – i Tibet travel
- Sakya monastery