Potala Palace: Pearl on the Roof of the World

Located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, Potala Palace is the masterpiece of Tibetan buildings and the gem of ancient Chinese architecture. Standing at an altitude of 3,700m, it is the highest and the largest palace complex in the world, reputed as the pearl on the world roof. It’s also the landmark of Lhasa.

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Potala Palace was originally built in the 7th century, about 1,300 years ago. With more than a thousand rooms, the palace now covers an area of over 360,000 square meters with an interior space of more than 130,000 square meters, about 36 meters from east to west, and the 13-story main tower is 115 meters high. It is comprehensive with halls, stupas, Buddhist chambers, chapel, monk dormitories, and courtyards.

As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama, Potala Palace symbolized Tibetan Buddhism and its role in the traditional administration of Tibet. Since the 5th Dalai Lama, all important religious and political ceremonies were held here. Besides, the palace is also a treasure house of culture. Kept in here were innumerable treasures of great value, such the imperial edicts of entitlement by emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, seals, gold album and jade album, handicrafts, sutras and all kinds of books, as well as the funerary stupas of the deceased Dalai Lamas, to name just a few.

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Potala Palace comprises the White Palace, Red Palace and their ancillary buildings.

The White Palace is the residence of the Dalai Lamas, and is also the place where the Dalai Lamas administrate religious affairs.

The Red Palace is west of the White Palace, mainly consisting of funerary stupas of the Dalai Lamas and various shrines and temples. There are all together eight funerary stupas in Red Palace, among which the stupa for the 5th Dalai Lama is the most luxury. Built in 1690, the stupa is made up of the base, the body and the top, altogether as high as 14 m. The coating gold sheets weigh up to over 110,000 taels, and it is studded with about 1,500 pearls or precious stones. It is so luxurious and glorious that Tibetans called it “Choiling Gyamgyis”, which means its total value equals half of the world.

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