The Cardinal Landmark of Lhasa and of Tibet
The Potala palace is perched on the top of the Red Hill and dominates the skyline of Lhasa. The palace can be divided into two sections, the White Palace and the Red Palace.
It was built by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and used it as his centre of meditation. It was however in 1645 under the fifth Dalai Lama, Lozang Gyatso, that the palace took a massive shape as the white palace became complete. The construction of the Red Palace began in 1690 and was completed within a span of 4 years. It was the residence of the Dalai Lamas, until the 14th Dalai Lama escaped to India in 1959. Today the palace serves as a state museum of China. The palace has vast inward-sloping walls and has many windows and its roofs are flat at various levels. The central part of this group of buildings is quadrangular. This towering central portion of Potala is called the Red palace. It contains the principal halls and chapels and shrines of past Dalai Lamas.
It still holds items like murals, Holy Scriptures and sutras that are invaluable to Buddhism. Today the Potala Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most visited structures in the world.
Aptly named after Mount Potalakha, the sacred mountain abode of Compassion Boddhisatva Avalokiteshvara or Chenrizing. It is the cardinal landmark of Lhasa on the Marpo Ri (or Red Hill) with comand of view of Lhasa and beyond. It was the site of King Songtsen Gampo's palace during the mid 7th century, before the construction of present day Potala by 5th Dalai Lama in 1645.