Visiting the Potala Palace, which is one part of the UNESCO world heritage site broadly labeled “The Historic Ensemble of Potala Palace”, which also includes a separate ‘summer palace’ and the Jokhang monastery. Aesthetically, Potala Palace is really impressive, with its long staircase, atonal buildings and red/white colour palette.
The walk up was not that bad except it being a bit hot, and no liquids were allowed except for over-priced water sold at the very top. The walkway was pretty darn cool, as the rocks used were ‘imported’ from the Himalayas! Most of the mud/brick walls though, were still built with the awesome song+hammering process we saw a few days before.
Inside, no pictures were allowed so we can’t really share the excitement. To be honest, like most other castles of old (think Versailles, Schonbrunn), the exterior architecture is much more grandiose than the interior. The stories though are rather interesting, but again its got a distinctive ‘influenced’ flavour. The most impressive parts of the interior are the stupas of passed Dalai Lamas and Banchengs. Specifically, the stupa of the 5th Dalai Lama, which apparently uses over 3700KG of gold in addition to countless precious gems. Seriously, there is so much gold used in the stupas, it feels like it was bronze and nothing special at all!
The label, Dalai Lama was ‘officially’ granted to the 3rd Dalai Lama by then Mongol ruler, and was posthumously applied to the 1st and 2nd.
The exterior ‘red’ parts of the Potala Palace is actually made of grain stalks mixed with Tibetan medicine! It can withstand 500years of wear and tear and earthquakes!!
Potala Palace was created by the 5th Dalai, whom unified Tibet both religiously and politically
- It is now a museum, and not a place of worship.