potala palace

[photo: UNESCO]

This isn’t your run of the mill monument! Located in Tibet, this gorgeous building is more than 1300 feet long and 1100 feet wide. The walls are about 16 feet thick at the base and the main building soars to 360 feet tall. It was once home to the Dalai Lama (high teacher in Buddhism), and continued to be their home until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the Tibetan Uprising in 1959. Today, the Palace is a museum which saw upwards of 6,000 guests until a limitation was put in place to preserve the Palace’s structural integrity and prevent overcrowding. You’re going to have to get to the palace early if you want to be one of the lucky 1,500 guests allowed in per day, because the quota usually fills up by mid-morning.

potala palace 2

[photo: The Land of Snows]

The inside, including furnishings, took 45 years to complete, which is pretty fast when you consider that there’s 13 stories in multiple buildings and a combined 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and 200,000 statues! The fifth Dalai Lama started construction in in 1645 and the palace was named after a rocky hill in southern India. It stands at an altitude of over 12,000 feet, so good luck climbing the varies staircases. The Tibetan Buddhists rarely speak of this immensely sacred place, but refer to it as “Potala” or “The Peak”. UNESCO named it a World Heritage site in 1994, and expressed concerns when modern buildings were being built around the Palace and disturbing the natural surroundings. China responded by instating a rule that prohibits any building being erected in the area that’s over 69 feet high.

Potala-Palace 3

[photo: Himalayan Workshops]

Two smaller buildings, the Red Palace and the White Palace, stand near the main building. The White Palace serves as the Dalai Lama’s living quarters. It is also his study, office and other secular uses. The Red Palace is devoted entirely to Buddhist prayer and religious study. The Palace holds significant historical value, especially for Tibetan Buddhists and contains an invaluable amount of scrolls and murals.

What do you think of the Potala Palace?

Gabbi Ewing is a rising junior studying Journalism as well as Film & Television at NYU. She is a New Jersey native who enjoys traveling, writing, skiing, and swimming. She hopes to travel the world, but her next adventure is taking her to Sydney, Australia to study with NYU. She aspires to work for National Geographic or Discovery Channel and to use her film, photography and writing skills to help people experience new cultures and places that they don't have the opportunity to travel to themselves.

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