Potala Palace in Lhasa (World Heritage)

The 3700 m high Potala Palace in Lhasa was built in the 7th century and expanded between the 15th and 17th centuries. The huge building extends over 13 floors and has 999 rooms. The Potala was the official residence of the Dalai Lama from 1642 until the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959 and is now a museum.

Potala Palace in Lhasa: facts

Official title: Historical ensemble of Potala Palace in Lhasa (Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka Palace)
Cultural monument: At an altitude of 3700 m in the center of the Lhasa Valley, the White and Red Palaces, from the 7th century until the Chinese occupation in 1959, the winter residence of the Dalai Lama; Red Palace as a central building that protrudes from the mass of the surrounding White Palace; Residence and others with the Official Reception Hall, the Maitreya Chapel, the “Chapel of the Three-Dimensional Mandala”, the “Chapel of Victory over the Three Worlds”, the tomb of the 13th Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso (1876-1933), the Kalachakra Chapel and the “Chapel on the Path of Enlightenment”; In 2000 the cultural monument was expanded to include the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa; In 2001 the Norbulingka (temple and park) in Lhasa was added; the name of the cultural monument has since been “Potala Palace Historical Ensemble in Lhasa”
Continent: Asia
Country: China, Tibet
Location: Lhasa
Appointment: 1994; expanded in 2000 and 2001
Meaning: Symbol of Tibetan Buddhism

Potala Palace in Lhasa: History

630-650 under Songtsen Gampo construction of a palace on the Red Hill of Lhasa
1645 Start of construction of the current palace under the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Losang Gyatso (1617-82)
1648 Completion of the White Palace
1694 Completion of the Red Palace
1792 Incursion of Nepalese Gurkhas into Tibet
1910 Incursion of Chinese Manchus into Tibet and expulsion of the 13th Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso
1911-12 Chinese revolution and expulsion of the Manchus from Lhasa
1913 Return of the 13th Dalai Lama to Lhasa
1951 Advance of the Chinese army as far as Lhasa
1959 The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso (born 1935) escapes to India
1965 Appointment of Tibet to the Xizang Autonomous Region
1987 bloody riots in Lhasa
1988-89 Martial law is imposed on Tibet
2004 Renovation of the palace
2008 bloody riots in Lhasa

The fortress of the God-Kings

When the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer stood at the gates of the Tibetan capital Lhasa on January 15, 1946 after a 900 kilometer walk through the icy mountains of the Himalayas and saw the golden battlements of the Potala Palace in the distance, he felt the need To sink to your knees and, like Buddhist pilgrims, to touch the ground with your forehead.

This moment, so Harrer in his memoirs, made up for all the hardships he had to endure since his spectacular escape from a British internment camp: “The sight of the famous palace made us hungry, cold and dangers Let it be forgotten. ”Even those who approach it under less dramatic circumstances can hardly escape the magic that emanates from the mighty structure. Majestic and awe-inspiring, this fortress of stone, straw and pure gold rises from the middle of the Lhasa valley. Pulled up from the slopes of a mountain, the Potala stretches towards the sky – and yet with all its red and white shimmering force it appears connected to the earth.

Before the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet with his supporters after the Chinese intervention, the palace served him – like its predecessors – as a winter residence. For almost three centuries, the Potala, the construction of which had begun in the first half of the 17th century, was the center of political and religious power of the god kings. Today it is a museum, to which, in addition to thousands of tourists from all over the world, locals are again allowed to make a pilgrimage.

After the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama, according to naturegnosis, the Chinese rulers initially forbade Tibetans access to their sanctuary, with its countless shrines and statues spread over hundreds of rooms, a grandiose manifestation of mystical tantric Buddhism. It is only since 1980 that the residents of the Xizang Autonomous Region, often referred to as the most religious people on earth, have been allowed to bow again to the mummified god-kings and the many saints and demons in the “Palace of His Holiness”.

Anyone visiting the interior of the 13-story building is exposed to a flood of impressions. A constant stream of believers pours through a labyrinth of dark corridors, chambers, niches and steep stairs that suddenly lead into bright rooms. They mumble prayers, throw themselves to the ground and move with a mixture of purposefulness and serenity, as if the many steps of the palace led straight to nirvana. The flickering light of hundreds of oil lamps makes mysterious shadows dance. Again and again men and women fill these lamps with yak butter so that they don’t go out.

Around 200,000 figures, many made of solid gold, as well as numerous wall paintings testify to the glory of past god kings. Heinrich Harrer felt that life in such a sublime atmosphere could also be depressing.

Harrer noted in his memoirs: “Existence in this religious fortress is like life in a medieval castle. In the evening all the gates are closed, and the shouts of the guards that echo through the corridors are the only sounds in the oppressive silence. From the shrines of the holy dead flow, gloomy and solemn, premonitions of death that make the entire palace appear like an enormous tomb. I could well understand that the young ruler was happy when he was allowed to move back into his summer residence. ”

Potala Palace in Lhasa

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