Renovation Work on the Potala Palace Roof Nears Completion
In early 2018, the roof of the Potala Palace in Lhasa was deemed to be in need of renovation. In April, the work began to renovate the ailing roof structures, keeping the entire roof in its original form to ensure that the structure does not change at all. After almost six months of specialist work, which has cost around 31 million yuan (around 4.5 million dollars), the work is almost complete, and is only awaiting the inspection of experts from the National Cultural Heritage Administration in order for the completion to go ahead.

The Potala Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Tibet, with the original buildings on the site dating back more than 1,300 years. An invaluable asset that is a major part of Tibet’s culture, history, religion, and arts, the palace as it is known now was constructed in the 17th century, replacing and surrounding an ancient fortress structure that was built in the 7th century by the 33rd king of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo.

This is not the first time huge amounts have been spent on the upkeep of this stunning example of 17th-century Tibetan monastic architecture. From 1989 to 2009, the historic palace underwent two major renovations, which cost more than 200 million yuan (approx. 29,026,740 US dollars). Upkeep for the palace, which is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, is taken from the entrance fees paid by tourists to the city’s most prominent structure, as well as funding from the government. As one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city, the preservation of the palace is of utmost importance to the economy of the region.

The work done on the roof included renovations and preservation of the whole roof area, which had been eroded by rainwater, as well as the gold of the roof fading badly due to the harsher weather conditions of the plateau. The renovations included works on the reliquary stupas of the past Dalai Lamas, which included the fifth, seventh, eighths, and ninth Dalai Lamas, as well as the roof of the Avalokiteśvara Temple. The renovation teams also replaced wooden portions of the roof that were subject to damage by rot, pests, and the elements.

One of the major benefits for the city of Lhasa was the selection of a local company that specializes in monastery renovations and the construction, production, and renovation of Buddhist Sculptures across the region. The bidding process for the work was won by the Tibet Chakpori Handicrafts Bronze Arts Co Ltd, whose company head is also the head of the Sculpture and Art Association of Tibet, and comes from a family of Buddhist masters and master craftsmen with a rich background in the Tibetan culture.

More than 50 uniquely trained craftsmen were employed on the project, including carpenters, coppersmiths, stonemasons, sculptors, and religious scripture carvers, who toiled diligently in order to ensure the work was of the best quality as well as being finished on schedule. According to Dophuk Tsang Tsega, the head of the company, more than 75 kilograms of gold was used in the renovation work on the golden roofs of the spectacular Potala Palace.

Located on the famous Moburi (Red Hill), the palace overlooks the city of Lhasa, around 100 meters above the city, a silent guardian of the people and the culture, watching over the Tibetan capital over the centuries. The former center of government in Tibet until 1755, when the government offices and seat moved to Norbulingka, the palace then became the winter palace of the Dalai Lama. One part of the palace also contains the remaining building that is left over from the original fortress built in the 7th century. Entrance to the palace costs 200 Yuan from May to October and 100 Yuan from November to April.
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