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Everything You Need to Know about the Potala Palace

Time: 22-08-2019 This Article is Composed by BudgetTibetTour

The Potala Palace is a landmark of Tibet and a mecca for Buddhists around the world. The name Potala is thought to be derived from an India holy hill – Sanskrit, which was the abode of the Bodhisattva Chenrezig. Every year, thousands of religious pilgrims circle the perimeter of the palace with prayer wheels and beads to ask for a blessing. Also, thousands of tourists flock here to see this magnificent palace. If you are planning a visit to the Potala Palace, you are suggested to do some homework beforehand in terms of the Potala Palace history and culture, some interesting Potala facts or must-see highlights as the quality of explanations from the local guides may vary.

Potala Palace History
Top 10 Interesting Potala Facts (Dalai Lama Palace)
Red Palace & White Palace
Travel Tips (Highlights, Tickets, Transportation, Tips)

Potala Palace History

Situated at 12,139 feet (3,700 meters) above sea level, Potala is the highest palace in the world. This 1,300-year-old building was originally built as the palace of Tibetan king Songtsen Gambo and his wife Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. Afterward, Buddhist monks came to govern Tibet and this great palace was converted into the winter home of the Dalai Lama. But when the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, the Chinese central government took over and made the palace into a museum as well as an administrative area.

The Potala Palace
The Potala Palace

Top 10 Interesting Potala Facts (Dalai Lama Palace)

The Potala Palace, as the landmark and symbol of Tibet, plays so many important roles in Tibet, from an imperial palace, seat of government, the residence of Dalai Lama, to the monastery and museum. In the long stream of history, it has so many interesting facts.

The Potala Facts
The Potala Facts

  1. With 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) above the sea level, it is the highest palace in the world.
  2. No building in Lhasa today is allowed to be higher than the Potala Palace.
  3. This building was built as a gesture of love, commissioned by Tibetan king Songtsen Gambo for his marriage to Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty.
  4. It was the home of 10 Dalai Lamas over 317 years.
  5. It was once deserted for about 800 years.
  6. It stores 8 Dalai Lama’s mummies!
  7. The 5th Dalai Lama's stupa is coated with more than 3,700 kilograms of gold!
  8. The palace's wall is painted with milk, sugar, honey, and some herbs, mixed with white lime!
  9. The Potala's walls are up to 5 meters thick!
  10. The Palace is named after a holy hill - Mount Potalaka, which is the mythical abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara.

Red Palace & White Palace

Potala Palace is divided into two sections – the Red Palace and the White Palace. The former serves as the religious study and Buddhist prayer and the latter as the administrative place.

Red Palace – the central part of Potala. It was painted to red to represent stateliness and power. It consists of great halls, chapels, libraries, and shrines with splendid painted scrolls, beautiful murals, exquisite statues made from precious alloys and jewels decorated.

White Palace - which represents peace and quiet. It is a building with 7 floors: The fourth floor has a Great East Hall, which mainly served as religious and political events; The fifth and sixth floors are mainly used to be the living quarters and office of regents; The seven-floor is the room of Dalai Lama.

The Red Palace & White Palace 
The Red Palace & White Palace

Travel Tips (Highlights, Tickets, Transportation, Tips)

There are many some tips for visiting the Potala Palace, including how to get there & how to buy tickets, what are the highlight & opening hour and some tips & notice for visiting this magnificent palace.

1. How to Get to the Potala Palace

International tourists can get to Tibet in three ways, by flight, by train or via road. Before heading there, they must obtain a Tibet Tourism Bureau through a local travel agency in advance (allow up to 14 days). Otherwise, they are not allowed to aboard a train or flight.

2. Inside of Potala Palace (Highlights)

As the symbol and landmark of Tibet, Potala Palace has a lot to its tourists. For example, the unique architectural style, precious well-preserved artworks, splendid murals, exquisite status, and precious jewels, etc. Here are some must-see treasures like Stupa of 15th/13th Dalai Lama, Tengyur Sutra, Tang Ka (Scroll Paintings), Seated Statue of King Songtsen Gampo, Golden Statue of Guanyin, etc.

The Potala Palace Inside - Stupa
The Potala Palace Inside - Stupa

3. Ticket Purchase & Restricted Visiting Time

There are some tips for purchasing tickets of Potala Palace, from price, opening hours, limited visiting time to certificate for booking tickets, etc.

 The Potala Palace – Ticket office
The Potala Palace – Ticket office

Tickets Price: May to Oct:¥200; Nov to April:¥100; Free for children under 1.2m (3.9 feet).
Opening Hours: 9:30am-3:00pm before 1 May, 9:00am-3:30pm after 1 May, interior chapels close 4:30pm
Certificates for Booking Tickets: valid ID or passport.
Important Notes for Booking Tickets:

  1. To protect the relics, the number of tourists allowed to visit this palace is strictly limited. In general, it only sells 2,300 tickets a day. So, you need to book your tickets at the west gate of the Potala Palace the day before your visit.
  2. When you booking a ticket, you can buy as many as 4 tickets at a time.
  3. One valid ID or passport can be used once a week.
  4. The reservation ticket window is open at 9:00 am and closed after all tickets are sold out.
  5. Visit time is limited within 1 hour.

4. Tips & Notice for Visiting the Potala Palace

Useful Tips for Visiting the Potala Palace

  • Visitors have to enter the Potala Palace from the east main entrance.
  • There is no restroom in this palace. The toilet is located on the right side of the White Palace Square.
  • Don’t forget to have a rest after climbing up floors. Otherwise, you might have high altitude sickness.
  • Remember to bring a warm overcoat as it is a bit cold in the hall.

Important Notice for Visiting the Potala Palace

  • Don’t take any kind of liquid, including beverages and mineral water.
  • No smoking there.
  • No oxygen bag is allowed inside the hall.
  • Don’t wear a hat or sunglasses. This palace is a holy Buddhist site, so you are suggested to dress respectfully.
  • Don’t step on the doorsill.
  • Don’t take pictures in the hall. If you want to shot Potala, you can go to Chakpori Hill, Zongjiao Lukang Park, or Potala Palace Square.
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user portrait Mr. Mo*** from: Travelers' Questions Might Help

I'm interested in the 14 day trip from Lhasa to Nepal trip. In in January or February would be great. how much would that be? is there space?

best regards Mo***

Answered by Nancy

Dear Mo***,

Greetings from Nancy at Budget Tibet Tour, thanks for visiting our website and sending your inquiry. Sorry we do not have any group tour in Jan or Feb to Kailash as there will be heavy snow and the road will be blocked, and also the area would be closed, and no one do the business there, no hotel, no restaurants there. So from Nov to March we would not send any groups there.
If you would like to do this tour, you must plan it from April to Oct. and at present we have the group tour in next 6th May and 29th May, and we will have more available date in future. if you are interested in joining in this, please kindly let me know. Best regards.

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