Potala Palace

Potala Palace

The Potala Palace was built in 1645 by the fifth Dalai Lama (1617–1682). The palace takes its name from the holy mountain of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, in southern India.

Potala Palace History

Potala Palace

Potala Palace is built on top of a small rocky outcrop and is reached via stairs that zigzag up the hill. The greater part is occupied by the White Palace, a building of 13 stories that originally housed the monks’ living quarters, libraries, and school rooms.

From the inner courtyard of the White Palace, the Red Palace, the central building of the complex, is entered through a flight of stairs on its right side.

detail Potala Palace

Completed in 1694, it has four stories. On the roof is the large Reception Hall, containing one of the Dalai Lama’s thrones, and the Dalai Lama’s private rooms and audience chamber, where bronze images of various Tantric deities including Ushnishavijaya, goddess of longevity, Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, and the great Sages or mahāsiddhas are on view.

On the upper floor of the Potala palace, there are several shrine rooms, including one dedicated to Maitreya and filled with art treasures and religious relics related to the Dalai Lamas.

Potala Palace Square with the view

Other sanctuaries include the shrine of the Three-dimensional mandalas, the shrine of Immortal Bliss, and the tomb of the thirteenth Dalai Lama. The upper middle floor has shrines dedicated to the worship of Kalachakra, identified with the wheel of time, Shakyamuni, and Amitayus, the Buddha of longevity.

The first of these has a large, three-dimensional mandala made of gold and copper. With a diameter of nearly 4 m and a height of slightly less than 3 m, it presents images of all the deities relating to the Kalachakra Tantra.

The bottom floor contains the large assembly hall as well as four additional shrines, one of which houses the golden stupa containing the relics of the fifth Dalai Lama.

Wall paintings depicting important religious incidents in the history of Tibet, as well as scrolls (tangkas) with Buddhist figures and deities, are found throughout the Potala.

Potala Palace Location

Potala Palace Address: 35号 Beijing Middle Road, Chengguan, Lhasa, Xizang (Tibet), China. Get help with directions using the map provided below:

Potala Palace Map

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