Tibetan beauty is held by a palace called Potala situated in Lhasa. The palace is built 130 meters high on Marpo Ri hill covering the scenic beauty of the Lush green Lhasa valley where the sun plays with landforms. You can see the whole Lhasa city from the top of the Potala palace. 

Potala Palace holds spiritual history and become a holy place for Tibetans. Over 1300 years, the palace has sprinkled beauty through its architecture and aesthetic pleasing to the surroundings. The palace expresses rich cultural and heritage value and hence it is one of the most beautiful UNESCO heritage sites in Tibet.

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Potala Palace in Lhasa Valley_https://postcardstravelaroundtheglobe.blogspot.com/2011/09/from-china.html

The Spiritual Traces of Palace 

There is a spiritual journey’s reflection in the Palace. The Potala Palace is the foundation of Tibet’s ancient government and a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism. Avalokiteshvara, a Bodhisattva, used to reside in a sacred cave on a hill in the valley of Lhasa in the seventh century BC. The caves were used by King Songtsen Gampo for his retreats into meditation. A palace was later built on Marpo Ri Hill by King Songtsen. 

Some theories suggest that the origin of the word Potala comes from the Tibetan name for Avalokiteshava’s pure existence, Potala. Unfortunately, when the Tibetan Empire crumbled after King Songatsan, the palace was destroyed during the ensuing civil conflicts. It remained in ruins. The fifth Dalai Lama decided to relocate the Gelugpa sect’s headquarters from Drepung Monastery to Marpo Ri Hill in the seventeenth century. They rebuilt the Palace where 7000 workers and 1500 artisans were required to complete the beauty of buried history. Successive Dalai lamas utilised Potala Palace as their winter retreat.

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Spiritual traces of Potala Palace_https://www.asiaculturaltravel.co.uk/the-potala-palace/

The Potala Palace has been renovated and given new chambers and chapels by the thirteen Dalai Lama. Every year, pilgrims who come to Potala Palace transform it into a spiritual haven. The Potala’s architecture celebrates the social and cultural characteristics of Tibet. Additionally, the community’s social ethos is represented by the site’s hilltop location.

Architecture and walk-through 

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Architecture of Potala Palace_https://hiddenarchitecture.net/potala-palace/

Potala Palace situated in Marpo Ri hill of Lhasa is a significant position entangled one to notice a breathtaking panoramic view of the Lhasa valley. The fifth Dalai Lama made extensions to the old palace and rebuilt the ruins. This architectural marvel is spread over 79 acres of land the carved beauty expels a height of 117 meters which can withstand harsh weather conditions and earthquakes. Over 1000 of rooms are inculcated in 13 stores high palace which is used for various purposes.

The palace is divided into two sections, The Potrang Karpo (White Palace) and the Potrang Marpo (Red Palace). The white palace is utilised for administrative and living quarters while the red palace is used for ceremonies, meditation, and spiritual practices. The palace is celebrated through art. Having murals, and wall paintings by the Tibetan artisans encouraged the cultural heritage and social dynamics of Tibet. Delicate carvings and decorative detailing reflect artistic excellence.

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Murals and Paintings in Potala Palace_https://hiddenarchitecture.net/potala-palace/

The palace is made up of local materials such as stones, clay and timber which had eternal conversation with the surroundings. The ringing bells and white-washed wall creates spiritual peace while redness emphasizes the awareness and authority posture of architecture. Emblems of scriptures, ancient relics and carved statues make you wiser and awaken knowing the cultural value of the place and people around you.

Life around palace 

Potala Palace became a spiritual experience and exploration for monks. Also, it is well fitted in the urban fabric of Lhasa city holding the city’s cultural heritage value. The golden roof and ornamentation can easily attract passersby as it represents local traditional motifs and designs carved by artisans. 

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Potala Palace provides economic opportunities to the locals in the city. Many shops are set up below the palace which sustains locals. Through its tourism, it also encourages people to make income through it and that is also a reason locals become very sensitive towards the maintenance of place. 

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Tibetans are disciplined towards maintaining the core values and Buddhism that the place holds. Over palaces economic benefits Tibetans preserve the history while still adapting to the modern benefits that it brings. 

Conclusion:

Annually almost a million individuals visit the Potala Palace. Due to the difficulty of maintaining the site and protecting the environment and legacy, the palace only allows 5,000 visitors per day. Potala Palace has witnessed and changed over a long period of history. Maintaining the cultural and traditional principles of Buddhism keeps bringing happiness to people. 

The architectural elegance of Potala remains unaltered and proudly conserved despite the shifting dynamics of the city over time. Potala Palace embraces the future with its enduring beauty while preserving the past in its treasures. 

References:

Centre, U.W.H. (no date) Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/707/ (Accessed: 22 December 2023). 

Tibet, W.O. et al. (2021) Potala Palace: Visitors information, history and description, Wonders of Tibet. Available at: https://www.wondersoftibet.com/destinations/lhasa/potala-palace/ (Accessed: 22 December 2023). 

Potala Palace: Unraveling the architectural marvel of Tibet (2023) Himalayan Glacier. Available at: https://www.himalayanglacier.com/potala-palace/ (Accessed: 22 December 2023). 

The Potala Palace: China & Asia Cultural Travel (2020) China & Asia Cultural Travel | TanSuo Cultural Travel Solution Ltd. Available at: https://www.asiaculturaltravel.co.uk/the-potala-palace/ (Accessed: 22 December 2023). 

Al Jazeera (2021) In pictures: Tibet’s historic sites at risk due to tourism boom, Al Jazeera. Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2021/6/22/in-pictures-tibets-historic-sites-at-risk-due-to-tourism- (Accessed: 22 December 2023).

The Potala Palace in Tibet: The interweaving of architecture … Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/359484953_The_Potala_Palace_in_Tibet_Interweaving_of_Architecture_Spirituality_and_Culture/fulltext/6380101748124c2bc66914cb/359484953_The_Potala_Palace_in_Tibet_Interweaving_of_Architecture_Spirituality_and_Culture.pdf (Accessed: 22 December 2023). 

 

 

Author

Yash, a creative seeker, is interested in incorporating human-centric research into innovative design ideation. Beyond the drafting board, he explores uncharted territories, unravelling stories within structures and cultures. Yash envisions a journey where each architectural stroke unveils narratives resonating with the pulse of humanity, transforming spaces into profound experiences.