Potala Palace

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Potala Palace
Palacio de Potala - 02.JPG
Affiliation Tibetan Buddhism
Leadership 14th Dalai Lama
Location Lhasa, Tibet, China
China Tibet location map.svg
Gold temple icon.png
Location within Tibet Autonomous Region
Geographic coordinates 29°39′28″N91°07′01″E / 29.65778°N 91.11694°E / 29.65778; 91.11694 Coordinates: 29°39′28″N91°07′01″E / 29.65778°N 91.11694°E / 29.65778; 91.11694
Founder Songtsen Gampo
Date established1649
Official nameHistoric Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
Criteriai, iv, vi
Designated1994 (18th session)
Reference no. 707
Region Asia-Pacific
Extensions2000; 2001

The Potala Palace is a dzong fortress in Lhasa, Tibet. It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, has been a museum since then, and a World Heritage Site since 1994.


The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. [1] The 5th Dalai Lama started its construction in 1645 [2] after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. [3] It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress called the White or Red Palace on the site, [4] built by Songtsen Gampo in 637. [5]

The building measures 400 metres (1,300 ft) east-west and 350 metres (1,150 ft) north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 metres (9.8 ft) thick, and 5 metres (16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. [6] Thirteen storeys of buildings, containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues, soar 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill", rising more than 300 metres (980 ft) in total above the valley floor. [7]

Tradition has it that the three main hills of Lhasa represent the "Three Protectors of Tibet". Chokpori, just to the south of the Potala, is the soul-mountain (Wylie : bla ri) of Vajrapani, Pongwari that of Manjusri, and Marpori, the hill on which the Potala stands, represents Avalokiteśvara. [8]


The Sertreng ceremony photographed by Hugh Edward Richardson on 28 April 1949 with the double giant thangka banner on the white front of the palace. The Zhol PIllar in 1949.jpg
The Sertreng ceremony photographed by Hugh Edward Richardson on 28 April 1949 with the double giant thangka banner on the white front of the palace.
པོ་ཏ་ལ་ཕོ་བྲང​ᠪᠦᠲᠠᠯᠠ ᠥᠷᠳᠥᠨ
  1. Stein, R. A. Tibetan Civilization (1962). Translated into English with minor revisions by the author. 1st English edition by Faber & Faber, London (1972). Reprint: Stanford University Press (1972), p. 84
  2. 1 2 Laird, Thomas. (2006). The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama, pp. 175. Grove Press, New York. ISBN   978-0-8021-1827-1.
  3. 1 2 3 Karmay, Samten C. (2005). "The Great Fifth", p. 1. Downloaded as a pdf file on 16 December 2007 from: Archived 15 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  4. W. D. Shakabpa, One hundred thousand moons, translated with an introduction by Derek F. Maher, Vol.1, BRILL, 2010 p. 48
  5. Michael Dillon, China : a cultural and historical dictionary, Routledge, 1998, p. 184.
  6. Booz, Elisabeth B. (1986). Tibet, pp. 62–63. Passport Books, Hong Kong.
  7. Buckley, Michael and Strausss, Robert. Tibet: a travel survival kit, p. 131. Lonely Planet. South Yarra, Vic., Australia. ISBN   0-908086-88-1.
  8. Stein, R. A. (1972). Tibetan Civilization, p. 228. Translated by J. E. Stapleton Driver. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. ISBN   0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN   0-8047-0901-7 (paper).
  9. Derek F. Maher in W. D. Shakabpa, One hundred thousand moons, translated with an introduction by Derek F. Maher, BRILL, 2010, Vol. 1, p. 123.
  10. Gyurme Dorje, Tibet Handbook: With Bhutan, Footprint Travel Guides, 1999 pp. 101–3.
  11. W. D. Shakabpa, One hundred thousand moons, translated with an introduction by Derek F. Maher BRILL, 2010, Vol.1, pp. 48–9.
  12. 1 2 Stein, R. A. Tibetan Civilization (1962). Translated into English with minor revisions by the author. 1st English edition by Faber & Faber, London (1972). Reprint: Stanford University Press (1972), p. 84.
  13. Lowell Thomas, Jr. (1951). Out of this World: Across the Himalayas to Tibet. Reprint: 1952, p. 181. Macdonald & Co., London
  14. https://www.nytimes.com/1979/12/09/archives/journey-to-tibet-hidden-splendors-of-an-exiled-deity.html NYT Journey to Tibet
  15. Aukatsang, Youdon; Aukatsang, Kaydor (2014). The Lion From Chamdo: Remembering a True Son of Tibet. New Delhi, India: Mahayana Press. p. 8.
  16. Larsen, Ingrid (28 October 2013). "Climbing to Great Heights - The Potala Palace". smithsonianjourneys.org. Retrieved 8 May 2021. The Potala was spared at the insistence of Chairman Mao's comrade, Zhou Enlai, who reportedly deployed his own troops to protect it.
  17. "II. Cultural Relics and Ancient Books and Records Are Well Preserved and Utilized". Govt. White Papers - china.org.cn. Retrieved 8 May 2021.
  18. Oser, Decline of Potala, 2007
  19. "Development 'not ruining' Potala". BBC News. 28 July 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  20. "Tourist entry restriction protects Potala Palace". chinadaily.com.cn.
  21. Potala Palace bans roof tour Archived 26 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  22. Tibet's Potala Palace to restrict visitors to 2,300 a day Archived 20 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  23. "Tibet bans price rises at all tourist sites(05/04/07)". china-embassy.org.
  24. "Deciphering a Tibetan Pop Star's Self-immolation". economist.com. 2 April 2022. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  25. Stein, R. A. Tibetan Civilization (1962). Translated into English with minor revisions by the author. 1st English edition by Faber & Faber, London (1972). Reprint: Stanford University Press (1972), p. 206
  26. Sertreng.
  27. The Potala taken from the south.
  28. "ABC Good Morning America "7 New Wonders" Page". Yahoo.
  29. Larsen and Sinding-Larsen (2001), p. 78.
  30. Richardson (1985), p. 2.
  31. Coulmas, Florian (1999). "Tibetan writing". Blackwell Reference Online. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  32. Snellgrove and Richardson (1995), p. 91.
  33. Richardson (1984), p. 30.
  34. Beckwith (1987), p. 148.

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Potala Palace
Potala Palace in Different Languages.png
"Potala Palace" in Tibetan Umey script (top), traditional Mongol script (left), Latinized Tibetan, Wylie Latinization of Tibetan script, Mongol Cyrillic script, the holy Lantsa script, Devanagari script, traditional Chinese (bottom left), and simplified Chinese (bottom right).