Whenever the conversation come across Tibet, people are eager to know more about this spectacular land. Only there is one place you will never forget to mention it — Potala Palace.
Potala Palace, located at the heart of the holy city Lhasa, which has been the political, economic, cultural and spiritual centre of Tibetan world for a long time. You cannot even ignore it since the palace was built on the top of the 130 meters (426.5 ft) high Marpori (Red Hill); moreover, according to Guinness World Records, Potala Palace is the highest palace in the world, which standing at over 3,500 meters (11482.94 ft) above sea level.
Though Potala Palace was known by once the site of Tibetan government and winter residence of the Dalai Lamas, the original Potala Palace was built in 637 as the wedding gift by Songtsan Gambo, the King of the Tubo Kingdom to his wife-to-be, the Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty of China. Despite the marriage has been described as promoting harmony and peaceful between Tibet and China, the love story between Songtsan Gambo and Princess Wencheng still being regarded as romantic. It is said Potala Palace was considered to cure the Princess Wencheng’s homesickness as it contained more than 1000 rooms which just looks like those magnificent palaces back to China.
However, Potala Palace has been suffered from lighting strikes and partly been ruined during the governance of Trisong Detsen; furthermore, Potala Palace was almost burned to the ground as the fall of Tubo Kingdom. Until the 17th century, with the help from Qing Empire, the Fifth Dalai Lama decided to rebuild Potala Palace, the one you will see if you travel in Lhasa now which actually took more than 50 years to complete.
The Potala Palace covered an area of 130,000 square meters (1,399,308 sq ft), the height of the main building is 117 meters (383.85 ft). From the outside of the architecture, you can see total 13 storeys; as a matter of fact, there are only 9 floors inside of the palace as the rest of them are the basement of the building.
It is easy for you to tell according to the colour of the exterior wall, Potala Palace was conjoined by two parts, the White Palace and the central Red Palace. The White Palace used for as living quarters of the Dalai Lamas and his monks, besides, the White Palace also has offices and the printing house; meanwhile, the Red Palace which consists of chapels and galleries are used for religious study and Buddhist prayer.
There are a fair amount treasures inside of Potala Palace, including the 2,500 square meters of wall frescoes which recorded the highland scenery, historic legends and some of the most important moments in Tibetan history, such as Princess Wencheng to Tibet, and stories of Buddhist masters; besides, a large quantity of stunning Tangkas also can be found here, as this is the traditional painting on cotton, silk, cloth or paper which usually not only describe the scene of Tibet history events, Buddhist figures but also local history and folk culture.
Among all those precious objects, the tombs of Dalai Lamas are the most valuable. Except the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, who has been dethroned, people built luxurious stupas for the rest of Dalai Lamas. All the stupas covered by gold and decorated by diamonds and jades. The 5th Dalai Lama owns the highest stupa which reaches to 14.85 meters (48.7 ft), wrapped by 2.2kg (4.85 lbs) gold and more than 15,000 pearls, agates and all kinds of precious stones.
Nowadays, Potala Palace opens as a museum, as one of the World Heritage Site, the landscape not only has been printed on the back of the Chinese 50 yuan, the second large bill in China; but also attract a lot of tourists; however, for the reason to protect the heritage, the tickets are limited and you need to book in advance. Especially during the peak season, it will be much more difficult to get the ticket.
If you never been to Potala Palace, you will never know how breathtaking it is. The place you should visit at least once in your lifetime — Potala Palace.