Potala Palace

Lhasa's Potala Palace was the winter residence of the Dalai Lama and once served as both as the seat of government for Tibet and a religious center for Tibetan Buddhism.

The lower and outer portions of the palace are known as the "White Palace" and served as the administrative and government offices. Rising above the center of the White Palace is the area known as the "Red Palace," which once served as the religious areas of the palace.

The original palace was built in 637 CE by King Songtsen Gampo, but by the mid-seventeenth century little remained except the foundation. Between 1645 and 1653, Dalai Lama V built the White Palace. The Red Palace was added in 1690-97, after Dalai Lama V died (in 1682) but before his death was revealed by regent Desi Sangye Gyatso.

Altogether, the Potala Palace contains 1,000 rooms and some 200,000 images. Unfortunately, there are no photos here from the interior of the Potala Palace. Photography was heavily restricted and the Chinese attendants demanded unfair fees for those photos that were allowed. If the fees were going to help preserve the palace, I might not have minded. We were told, however, that the fees were Chinese efforts to profit from Tibetan religious sites.

[More photos in the Pop-Up Slide Show below.]


Pop-Up Slide Show:

Norbulingka Palace:  Norbulingka Palace served as the summer residence of the Dalai Lama. It is from here that the present Dalai Lama XIV escaped in 1959 as Chinese troops marched into Tibet. Although built in the traditional Tibetan style, the Takten Migyur Podrang (also known as the "new" palace) was built in 1954-56 by Dalai Lama XIV. (6 Photos)  [Preview This Slide Show]