Situated on the Red Hill of central Lhasa, Potala Palace is the highest ancient palace in the world, reaching 3,767.19m (12,359.55ft) at the topmost point.
Potala named after a holy hill in South India is a Sanskrit word meaning “Abode of the Avalokite?vara (Buddha of Mercy).” Legend has it that in the 7th century, to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty (618B.C. – 907B.C.) of China, the then Tibet King Songtsen Gampo built a 9-storey palace with a thousand rooms up on the Red Hill and named it Potala. Later, with the collapse of the Songtsen Gampo Dynasty, the ancient palace was almost destroyed in wars. What we see at present is the architecture of the Qing Dynasty (1644B.C. – 1911B.C.) and the continuous expanding work outcome since the 17th century.
Potala Palace is composed of 2 parts, the Red Palace as the center and the White Palace as two wings.
The Red Palace or Potrang Marpo is the highest part in central Potala Palace that is completely devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer. It was painted to red to represent stateliness and power. It consists of a complicated layout of different halls, chapels and libraries on many levels with an array of smaller galleries and winding passages: The Great West Hall, Dharma Cave, The Saint’s Chapel, The Tomb of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and etc. The 725 sq meters (about 7,804 sq ft) Great West Hall is the largest hall of Potala Palace, with beautiful murals painted on its inner walls. Around the Great West Hall are three chapels, the east chapel, the north chapel as well as the south chapel. The Dharma Cave and the Saint’s Chapel are the only two remained constructions of the 7th century with the statues of Songtsen Gampo, Princess Wen Cheng, and Princess Bhrikuti inside.
The White Palace or Potrang Karpo once served as the office building of Tibet local government makes up the living quarters of Dalai Lama. The wall of the palace was painted to white to convey peace and quiet. The Great East Hall on the fourth floor, occupying a space of 717 sq meters (about 7,718 sq ft), was the site for momentous religious and political events. The fifth and sixth floors are used as the living quarters and offices of regents while the seventh floor, the top one, is the living quarters of Dalai Lama consisting of two palaces named the East Chamber of Sunshine and the West Chamber of Sunshine due to the plentiful sunshine.
Potala Palace has other annexes including the School of Buddhist Logic, the seminary, the printing House, gardens, courtyards and even the jail. For more than 300 years, Potala Palace has treasured many culture relics such as murals, stupas, statues, thangkas, and rare sutras.
Adminssion Fee: CNY 100 (Nov. 1-Apr. 30); CNY 200 (May 1-Oct.31)
Free for children under 1.3m and the old aged above 70.
Travel Tips: Only 2300 tickets are issued each day, 1600 for the travel agents and 700 for individual tourists.
Opening Hours: 09:00 – 16:00 except holidays and major events
Transportation: From Beijing East Road,
1. By foot
2. By taxi. (Fare: CNY10 or so)
3. By tricycle (Fare: CNY5 or so)