Introduction to Potala Palace (布达拉宫)
Potala Palace is considered a model of Tibetan architecture and was originally built in the 7th Century by King Songtsan Gampo. Perched high up on the Red Hills, this ancient architectural complex remains the signature sight which represents Tibet. The palace is constructed using wood and stone structure and is split into two areas: The White Palace and The Red Palace.
The White Palace comprises of halls, temples, courtyards and was the living quarters for the Dalai Lama. The Red Palace various chambers for worshipping Buddha and chambers housing the Eight Stupa that contain the remains of fifth through thirteenth Dalai Lama.
Lozang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, started the construction of the Potala Palace in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel, 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. It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress, called the White or Red Palace, on the site built by Songtsen Gampo in 637. Today, the Potala Palace is a museum.
The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 m. thick, and 5 m. thick at the base, and with copper poured into the base to help proof it against earthquakes. Thirteen stories of buildings – containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues – soar 117 metres on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill", rising more than 300 m in total above the valley floor.
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 (bla-ri) of Vajrapani, Pongwari that of Manjushri, and Marpori, the hill on which the Potala stands, represents Chenresig or Avalokiteshvara.
This ancient architectural complex is considered as a model of Tibetan architecture. Located on the Red Hill in Lhasa, it is 3,700 meters above sea level and covers an area of over 360,000 square meters, measuring 360 meters from east to west and 270 meters from south to north. The palace has 13 stories, and is 117 meters high.