China Guide

Potala Palace Guide to Visiting the Potala Palace in Tibet

Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is one of Tibets cultural gems and a popular tourist destination. It lies upon Red Hill within the capital Lhasa. It is famous for being the world’s highest standing ancient palace named after one of India’s holy hills which translates to mean ‘Buddha of Mercy’.

The legend goes that the Tibet King Songtsen Gampo built the palace to greet his new bride, then much later was made the primary residence of the great Dalai Lama until he fled to India in 1959 after an invasion. After the fall of the dynasty and the many wars that followed, the Potala Palace was severely damaged. With the effort of many, today the palace stands in much the same way it did back in its day thanks to the continued work of the local people. It is now a museum that can be viewed by the public.

The palace has two main parts; the red palace and the white palace. The red palace is at the centre where grand halls, chapels and libraries are found. There are several levels within the red section making it the highest of the complex. It is also where the Great West Hall is located with its glorious murals inundating its interior. While the red palace’s colour symbolises power, the wings of the building are white for peace and quiet.

As a museum, you can tour the complex and its surrounds by purchasing tickets. You can book through your travel agent or singularly, however in each case you must have an original ID card and have a good hour and a half to spare. It should be noted that there are a fixed number of tickets available each day so booking as early as possible is recommended.