The Glorious Winter Palace
a view of the Potala Palace from the West Lhasa Gate, featuring a few stupas
Visitors walking past a cluster of stupas
The Golden Descending Stupa of the 13th Dalai Llama
Om Mani Padme Hum - Original Extended Version.wmv by manishpilani
(Above: citizens swarm outside the Potala Palace demanding independence and refuge)
The history of the Potala Palace is practically as complex as the building itself. Allow us to start from the beginning. The year is 1645 and the 5th Great Dalai Llama decides to build the palace as a gift for Princess Wen Cheng. Built upon the ruins of a palace created in 637, known as the White or Red Palace, the palace is like a phoenix rising from the ashes. In fact, 2 chapels remain from the original structure. These 2 chapels are the Phakpa Lhakhand and Chogyel Drupuk. These relics of the old building add to the historic/modern blend that makes the palace so fascinating.1645 comes around and after the insight of one of his spiritual advisers, The Great Fifth Dalai Llama begins the construction of Potala Palace. It takes three years to complete the external structure of the palace, complete with copper poured into the foundation making the building earthquake proof. While the framework of the Potala Palace was fairly quick, the interior will take 45 years to complete. Four and a half decades of work pay off well however, the 13 story structure contains 10,000 shrines and 200,000 symbolic statues. A true religious masterpiece of the red mountain, so many years in the making is finally complete. And it has remained the winter palace of the Dalai Llama for the past 7 centuries.
Potala Palace is a proud symbol of Tibetan Buddhism, a constant reminder of religious symbolism in Tibet. The Potala Palace incorporates unaltered historical relics as well as symbolic build. The temple itself shows values of Buddha. For example, the skilled artistry and devotion required for the building of such a priceless structure. This stands as living proof of the dedication to Tibetan architecture and fidelity to the Gods.
In addition to the grueling labor, the amount of money put toward this temple shows the endless dedication to worship. It's a reminder of the importance of theocratic architecture in Tibet. Such extravagance and wealth put toward a building of religion shows how important Buddhism is to the people of Tibet. Though the original purpose of the palace was not for Buddhism, its conversion demanded a large amount of diligence and money, as it is now filled with statues, religious texts, and time old artifacts.The Potala Palace can be seen as many things, a defensive fortress proving the strength of Tibet, a religious throne and a symbol of the country. All these are correct, the palace is proof of many things. One of these is the struggle for religious purity, as one of the large parts of Buddhism is purification. The interior of the palace is quite a remarkable place, as it holds so many religious influences and stories. It's altitude is intentional as well, as it overlooks Tibet, like a watchful God, as it was once made this way so the government could watch its people.
The Potala Palace is undoubtedly one of the most influential religious symbols in existence and is so, so important to those who practice Buddhism. The palace is such a vital part of the religion, as it holds thousands, millions, of years of stories of the religion and its people.
Guidelines of the Palace
1. No water or other liquids are allowed, but water is sold on the hilltop.
2. Do not wear a hat or sunglasses inside the palace.
3. Do not step on the doorsil.
4. There is no smoking permitted in the halls.
5. No photography is allowed inside the palace, although exterior photos are okay.
6. This isn't as much a rule as a reminder: there is only one bathroom inside the palace.
“The Great Fifth Dalai Lama.” Dharmapala Thangka Centre. School of Thangka Painting, n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://www.thangka.de/Gallery-3/Misc/12-35/Dalai5th-7.htm>. The Great 5th Dalai Lama
“No Ball Caps in Heaven.” Steve’s Bible Meditations. Steve, n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. no hats allowed in the palace
“No sunglasses sign.” Shuttershock. MaluStudio, n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://www.shutterstock.com/s/tabu/search-vectors.html?page=1&inline=282609479>. No sunglasses in the temple
“Potala Palace22.” Wikimedia. Wikimedia Commons, 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Potala_palace22.jpg>. Gold stupas leading to the palace
“The Potala Winter Palace of Dalai Llama.” Arounddeglobe. Inspium, 25 Oct. 2015. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. <http://arounddeglobe.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/the_potala_palace.jpg>. An image of the winter palace.
“Purification of Body, Speech and Mind.” Buddha Weekly. Buddha Weekly, 2007. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://buddhaweekly.com/the-psychology-of-buddhist-prostrations-the-humble-bow-a-meaningful-method-to-connect-with-buddha-nature/>. Monks in practice
“Tibet- Potala Palace.” Mundo Afora. Denise, 6 Oct. 2015. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://denise-mundoafora.blogspot.com/2015/10/tibet-potala-palace.html>. Stupa of the 13th Dalai Lama
“Unknown.” Tibet Tours. Tibetan International Travels and Tours, n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://www.tibettours.travel/tibet/tour/everest-base-camp-tour.html>. The view from the Potala Palace
“The Winter Palace.” Sonya and Travis. Sonya, 2 June 2012. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. Visitors walking past a cluster of stupas
“’Women Struggling for Human Rights.’” Save Tibet. Unknown, 12 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. Tibetan women protest outside the Palace“The year 2016 may be the year an old age is debunked.” Journal Scene. Debbie Merlo, 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <http://www.journalscene.com/article/20160111/SJ01/160119985/1059>. No smoking in the palace