Potala Palace, Tibet
If you hear the words ‘ancient places’ you probably recall a few running through your mind, but can you name the highest one of them all? That’s where Potala Palace steps in. Set on Mount Moburi in the west of Lhasa, this Palace reaches up 12,000 feet, adding credence to the determination and ambition behind most Tibetan architecture.
Potala Palace Trivia
Built during the Tang dynasty, around the 7th century BC, you can imagine how wonderfully this UNESCO World Heritage Site has stood the test of time. Ask the Tibetans and many of them will tell you they still hold Potala Palace in a sacred light. Built during the reign of King Songtsan Gampo, this thirteen-story edifice enjoys more than a 1000 rooms, walls that are an average 3 meters thick and artistic stone and wood going into the overall make of the place.
Potala Palace Tour
Don’t assume the outer looks alone are what make this Palace what it is, because inside rests items and artifacts from across Tibetan culture, religion and history. From artwork to murals, antiques to Buddha statues, this veritable museum is one place you simply have to see to believe.
Even the Dalai Lama (the fifth one, to be specific) isn’t left out of the records as the wall frescoes in some parts of the Potala Palace confirm. The Palace’s topmost hall called Sasong Langjie traces its origins back to 1679. In this must-see section of the Palace, you’ll find the lines ‘ A long, long life to the present emperor’ written in Manchu, Mongol, Han and Tibetan lingos. The portrait associated with these lines illustrates the infamous Qing Emperor Qianlong.
As with some other cultures that celebrate New Year’s on days other than the first of January, the Tibetan New Year (February 22 and for two weeks after that day) sees to the present Dalai Lama coming to the Potala Palace to pay homage and offer up prayers of well being for the Tibetan people.
This Tibetan symbol of hope is one of the most beautiful, well maintained, historically rich and magical places you’ll ever find. It’s no wonder tourists flock here from all over. Being this protected, the government has only a certain number of visitors going up the mountain at one time, so be punctual when you know it’s your turn.
It’s up a 1000-foot hill, so if you feel you’re not fit enough to make that walk, don’t risk it. Besides, this is Lhasa where the weather is very cold. Bringing adequate cold-clime clothes is a step in the right direction, especially any medication you feel you may need. An important aside: keep your clothing sense modest, and don’t carry hats. Potala Palace is a sacred zone and as such requires you to don humility.
As much as you’d love to take pictures and videos here, the fact that the Potala Palace is sacred means such things aren’t allowed. But, don’t worry, you’ll be more than busy enjoying every second you have to spend in the aura of the highest ancient place in the world.