Posted by: odzer | July 30, 2008

The Potala Palace

photo Courtsey : Alex Bunjes

The Potala Palace is the residence of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa Tibet. I visited Tibet way back in 2001 when I was a very young boy of just 21 years. All the photos that I had of Tibet were paper based and although I could scan them I never did because of the sheer volume and my laziness. However luckily I have received digitalized version of these pictures from a friend who could get it done abroad. So I intend now to write a few articles about my previous travels. The Potala Palace is the iconic landmark that sits right in the  middle of old Lhasa. Tibet was ruled for hundreds of years from this very place. This site is identified with the great King of Tibet Songsten Gompo who had greatly extended the territory of Tibet. The fifth great one Lobsang Gyatso, Dalai Lama of Tibet started the construction work of the Potala palace in in 1645.

The Potala Palace has two distinctive colours, Red and White. Red is known as Marpo in Tibetan and White as Karpo that is why both the sections of the building are known as Potrang Marpo and Potrang Karpo respectively. The white part of the building was used primarily as a winter residence of the Dalai Lama whereas the red part was used as monastic and government building.

There is a beautiful garden and a lake just behind the Palace and within the lake there is an island, there is a very special temple situated on this island and I intend to write a blog about that later. The day I visited the Potala Palace the Chinese had just increased the price of the entry ticket. Overall the atmosphere in Tibet is very oppressive and its not an easy country to visit for Indians. I noticed that within the Potala there were a lot of Chinese domestic tourists who were very noisy and loud.

On the roof of the Palace there is a small café and a gift shop. Although the building seems to have suffered no major damage under the Chinese occupation it has lost its significance as a centre of government and administration and become more of a museum. With the Palace there are some very beautiful gold mandalas in 3 dimensions. I have never seen such beautiful mandalas ever before.

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