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Trip to Tibet Potala Palace
2008-06-14 16:42:22     CRIENGLISH.com


June 9th

We first went to the Tibet Museum in the afternoon to learn about local history. Visitors are allowed to take photos of many museum pieces such as the Tangka paintings and statues of Buddha. But because it was Monday, the museum was closed. Instead, we took some pictures outside the building and decided to go to Potala Palace.

It seemed no matter where you were in the city, you could always see Potala Palace. The white and red building is located on the Red Hill of Lhasa. An unfathomable building erected on a rock face 13 stories high, it has golden turrets on the roof that can be seen from 12 miles away. The palace stretches for more than 1,000 feet along a ridge against the snowcaps. It looks and feels like no other building on the planet.

The palace is one of the seven modern wonders of the world because of its architectural marvel, which no one can stop taking photos of. When we arrived at the palace, some of us said, "Oh, I've read about the palace in my school textbook, but I don't believe that I am here. Is it real? What shall we do?"

The stone stairs rising from the bottom of mountain, the zigzagging wall and the palace's trapezoidal form makes it look as if it is flying. The highest palace in the world is also one of the world's oldest at more than 1,300 years. It offers visitors not only its long history and strong Buddhist culture, but also its luxurious aesthetics. Everyone who comes to Lhasa will visit the palace, but have various feelings about it.

Many people outside the palace were praying as they faced it. They moved us deeply when we gazed at them in the sunshine. At the same moment, our own souls were purified.

Brief info of Tibet Potala Palace ( travelchinaguide.com)

Originally built by King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, Potala Palace is located on the Red Hill of Lhasa, Tibet. Destroyed by lightning and war, it had been rebuilt by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1645. Since then, it has become the seat of the Dalai Lamas and the political center of Tibet. The thirteenth Dalai Lama extended it to its present size of 117 meters (384 ft) high and 360 meters (1,180 ft) wide, and covering an area of more than 130,000 sq meters (about 32 acres). Mainly comprised by the White Palace (administrative building) and the Red Palace (religious building), the Potala Palace is famous for its grand buildings, complicated construction, devotional atmosphere and splendid artwork.
Upon entering the East Portal, visitors will come to the Deyang Shar courtyard where the Dalai Lamas watched Tibetan opera. West of the courtyard is the White Palace. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, the White Palace is a seven-story building originally built in 1645. The wall of the palace was painted white to convey peace and quiet. The Great East Hall on the fourth floor is the largest hall in the White Palace, occupying a space of 717 sq meters (about 7,718 sq ft). This hall was also the site for holding momentous religious and political events. The living quarters and offices of regents are on the fifth and sixth floors, while the top floor consists of the East Chamber of Sunshine and the West Chamber of Sunshine. Because the sun shines in both rooms year-round, the East and West Chamber were the places where the Dalai Lamas lived, worked and studied. Their furnishings are sumptuous and comfortable and reveal the dignity of the Dalai Lamas. Standing on the spacious balcony, visitors can look down on beautiful Lhasa.

In the middle of the Potala Palace is the Red Palace, built in 1690 after the death of the Fifth Dalai Lama. The palace wall was painted to red to represent stateliness and power. The Red Palace is renowned for its religious status, gorgeous stupas and precious culture relics. The Great West Hall in the middle is the largest hall in Potala Palace with an area of 725 sq meters (about 7,804 sq ft). Beautiful murals painted on inner walls describe the glory and power of the Fifth Dalai Lama, and the corridor upstairs also contains many religious murals of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Dalai Lamas; stories about the origins of Buddhism; and historical events such as the marriage of Princess Wencheng and the building of the Jokhang Temple. One of the most famous murals describes the Fifth Dalai Lama's visit to Emperor Shunzhi in Beijing in 1652. There are another three chapels around the Great West Hall. The North Chapel is dedicated to Sakyamuni, the Dalai Lamas, the Buddhas of Three Generations and the Medicine Buddha. The stupa-tombs of the Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh Dalai Lamas are also here. Visitors also can find a volume of Kanjur (Beijing Edition) that was donated by Emperor Yongzheng.

The East Chapel is dedicated to Tsong Khapa, founder of the Yellow Hat Sect. His two-meter-high (6.56 ft) figure is surrounded by 70 statues of famous lamas. The South Chapel is dedicated to Padmasambhava, a famous Indian monk who introduced Esoteric Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century. To the west of the Great West Hall is the Stupa Chapel where the stupa-tombs of the Fifth, the Tenth and the Twelfth Dalai Lamas are located. The Fifth Dalai Lama's tomb is 14.85 meters (about 48.72 ft) high, covered by more than 3,000 kilograms (about 6,613 pounds) of gold foil and decorated with thousands of pearls, gems, corals, ambers and agates. It is considered the best and most luxurious of the tombs.
The Three-world Hall, located on the highest point of Potala Palace, is the holy shrine of the Chinese emperors. It was built in 1690, and the Dalai Lamas used to come here every year to show their respect to the central government.
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