Potala Palace—the Heavenly abode

If you have ever been to Tibet, foreigners who read about Tibet tour and wish to explore Tibet are likely to ask you: how is Potala Palace—inarguably one of the most impressive tangible heritages of Tibet.

Built with great architectural expertise at an altitude of 3,700 m (12,100 ft) on the top of Marpori Hill, Potala Palace has been the main residence of successive Dalai Lamas from the Great Fifth Dalai Lama onward. The majestic palace is the most noted attraction for millions of tourists from across the world. Aftermath of the departure of the current 14th Dalai Lama from Tibet, the palace has been converted into a museum and it has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Potala Palace got its name after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion. The foundation part of the palace was built by Songtsen Gampo, the Great Dharma King of Tibet in 637. Construction of the complete structure was initiated by Lobsang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. History texts mention that the external structure of the palace was built in three years, while the interior, together with its sophisticated furnishings, took 45 years to complete.

The palace consists of two main sections as indicated by the paint color, the White Palace and the Red Palace. The White Palace was the living quarters and offices of the successive Dalai Lama. The Red Palace was completely dedicated for doing prayers and carrying out various religious activities.

Potala remains of the most holy Buddhist site for Tibetans since it houses the sacred gold stupas—the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas; thousands of volumes of Buddhists scriptures, many of which date back to hundreds of years. And then there are thousands of old statues of Buddhist deities.

Seeing is believing; so the true beauty of the Potala Palace can be best appreciated when you see it in person. It is a masterpiece that will remain in your mind for years and will remind you the whole joy of your Tibet trip.