The Potala Palace

    Back in middle school, one of my teacher said that if someone sells the Potala Palace (to whom?), that person would have enough money to feed everyone in China for half a year. Some years later when I stood at the foot of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, I did not bother taking pictures, because some places are at their best in pictures and some just can’t be contained by any two-dimensional surface, one being the Potala.

The Potala was a royal palace originally built under the order of Songtsen Gampo, the first emperor of Tibet, and yet it was badly damaged in later conflicts. The palace was then the residence of the Dalai Lama, after the 5th Dalai Lama rebuilt the palace, which is what we see today, and before the 14th exiled out of Tibet. The Potala has the White Palace and the Red Palace; the White Palace had been the winter resident of the Dalai Lama, and the Red Palace mainly consists of the Pagodas of the previous Dalai Lamas.

The Potala stands 117 meters high at the altitude of over 3700 meters, and it is very stable and solid with its body as thick as five meters while iron melt fill the gap every couples of feet; its foundation laid right into the rock layer of the mountain, and its walls are built with sheer granite. The palace is a true treasury vault as it is stuffed with priceless artifacts, Thangka paintings, and jewelries. The  Pagoda of the fifth Dalai Lama alone has over five and a half tons of gold and an incredible amount of gems.

Visiting the Potala costs 200 yuan while 2 yuan for Tibetans, and you will need to make a reserve one day in advance, but plan early because there may not be spot for the next day.


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