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Potala Palace is the widely known symbol of Tibet in the world. In 1994, it was recognized as the site of World Cultural Heritage and written into the first batch of key cultural sites under the state-level protection. In folk community, it is famous as the second Putuo Buddhist Mountain, which is located in Ningbo, Zhejiang province and traditionally regarded as the meditation center of Guanyin Bodhisattva. Why called second Putuo Mountain? Potala Palace is the palace and meditation center of Dalai Lama, who is taken as the aspect of Guanyin Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism. Potala Palace together with its square is the center of downtown Lhasa. It is built on Red Hill in the northwest side of Lhasa. The opposite is the government office complex of Tibet.
The whole Potala Palace scenic area including the square is crossed by an avenue officially named Beijing West Road. Potala Palace is also a huge building complex on the top of the Red Hill. Different from summer palace, Norbulingka, Potala Palace is widely known as the winter palace. Originally, Potala Palace was built for King Songtsen Gampo’s marrying Princess Wencheng of Tang Dynasty. It has been reconstructed for many times in different reigns of Dalai Lama. It is the complex of politics and religion and the best evidence to release the characteristic of traditional Tibet social management. Potala Palace is the treasure center of Tibet in the aspect of spirituality and materiality.
The White Palace known for its white walls used to be the living place of Dalai Lama. Consisting of seven stories, the top one is the resting place of Dalai Lama , called Riguang Dian(日光殿, the Hall of Sunshine), Riguang Dian comprised of the west part and the east part, and west one is the former one, and the east is the newly-built, and respectively are the resting place of the 13th Dalai Lama and the 14th Dalai Lama. Also, it is the site for managing the governmental affairs. The site was strictly guarded and nobody except the senior officials could enter the room.
The fifth and sixth floors are Dalai Lama’s personal living area and office. The fourth floor is the largest hall among the buildings of Potala Palace. It is named Cuoqinsha. The whole building has a square of 27.8 meters ×25.8 meters(length × width). The throne of Dalai Lama is available inside. Above the throne, the board inscribed by Emperor Tongzhi of Qing Dynasty is highlighted with four huge Chinese characters:”振锡绥疆”. Some significant activities related to Dalai Lama usually held over here. The east side is a large square called Deyangsha. On the top of the main building on the west of the square, there is the meditation hall of Dalai Lama, through the balcony, Dalai Lama can enjoy the square performance or the large outdoor show, the south and north sides of the square is the building of Buddhist monk official school. The lower part of the Red Palace is the White Palace, and it is connected with Zhasha, Zhasha is located on the west side of The Red Palace and used to act as the residential buildings of the Lamas serving for the Potala Palace. At utmost, more than 25, 000 monks lived in it. So it is also considered to be one part of the white palace due to its white walls as well.
The Red Palace located at the middle site of Potala Palace. The outside is painted in red. It is the older architectural complex built following the stramonium layout. Centering on the burial pagodas of Dalai Lamas of different periods, a huge number of the sutra halls, Buddhist halls and other styles of building are established, also integrated with the white palace. The quintessential buildings of the red palace are the pagoda halls, comprised of five halls, respectively the hall of the fifth Dalai Lama, the hall of the seventh Dalai Lama, the hall of the eighth Dalai Lama, the hall of the ninth Dalai Lama and the 13th Dalai Lama. The largest hall is the fifth Dalai Lama’s pagoda hall, and the center is the pagoda of the fifth Dalai Lama, and on the both sides of this pagoda are the pagodas of the 10th Dalai Lama and the 12th Dalai Lama. This hall is the biggest one in Red Palace complex with a height of more than 6 meters. The inscription board of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty is also eye-catching. The characters are”涌莲初地”. Under the board, it is the throne of Dalai Lama. The whole hall is quite sacred and altogether painted with 698 murals themed with the lifetime of the 5th Dalai Lama. The west side of the Red Palace is the pagoda of the 13th Dalai Lama initially built in 1936 was the newest one in Potala Palace. But its scale is approximately equal to the pagoda of the fifth Dalai Lama. In the hall, the most attractive is a silver-made statue of the 13th Dalai Lama and a sacred Manzha weaved with 2,000,000 genuine pearls and coral pearls. The Red Palace shows the mediaeval history of Tibet. The most highlighted attractions are the pagodas made of the gold and silver. In the palace, visitors can see the Buddhist statues or sculptures everywhere. Nearly in each hall, visitors can see a huge collection of Buddhist scripts which are all the ancient sutras directly translated from the Indian original. The interior ladders are quite steep and narrow, and there is also a history museum, in which visitors can see the timing machine of ancient Tibet.