Lhasa: Potala Palace

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

We had been at altitude for two nights and now it was time for our big test. Could we survive the climb to the Potala Palace, home to Dalai Lamas for centuries? For some of us the answer was no; some did not even go visit the palace at all. Others went and climbed to the main entrance but did not actually go inside the palace walls. For the rest of us we took our time and made it without issue.

The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical residence of a being that embodies compassion. Construction was begun in 1645 on the orders of the Fifth Dalai Lama. The walls are an average of 3 meters thick – 5 meters thick at the base. The building stands thirteen stories tall and contains over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

We had the chance to take some photos from a favorable spot at street level before starting our journey upwards.

The Potala Palace from street level

After an easy walk we arrived at the entrance plaza and had a chance to mentally gear ourselves up for the climb to come.

Looks pretty steep!

Then we started up the steps. Even the folks in our group who were in the best shape took their time on this climb.

Nowhere to go but up from here

We’d make our way up until the path made a hairpin turn back the other way then we’d stop and catch our breath. Even our Tibetan guide was breathing heavily by the time we reached the top plaza where the tour would actually begin.

Slow and steady was the only way to do this

At least there were nice views as we stopped to rest. This is the plaza across the street.

Potala Plaza

Once the major portion of the climb was complete there was a plaza selling water and souvenirs up top. It was nice to have a place to recuperate for a bit. As we walked through the doorways and short hallways between the exterior and the plaza we could take photos of the doors and wall decorations.

Red, yellow and blue are once again the main colors

Murals of (I assume) the Dalai Lamas are incredibly detailed

And once we reached the plaza we could take photos of what we could see there, like the White Palace. This is the area that contains the living quarters, offices, the seminary and the printing house. Once we climbed the half-dozen steps to go inside the White Palace we were no longer allowed to take photographs and there was a time limit for us to work our way all the way through.

Quilts protect some of the shops on the upper plaza from the sun

The White Palace

The Red Palace, seen as the top building in the first photo, is an area devoted to religious study and Buddhist prayer. There are a number of different levels within and lots of smaller galleries and winding passages. The Red Palace also held the stupas, or tombs containing relics, of the Dalai Lamas number Five through Thirteen. The current Dalai Lama is number Fourteen.

Once we exited the Palace we had lovely views of different parts of the city.

View of Lhasa after exiting the White Palace

After another meal in the hotel restaurant it was time to pack for our flight the next day. We’d be leaving Lhasa and flying to Chongqing (chong-ching) where we’d board the boat for the second week of our trip.

Categories: Asia, China, River Cruise, Tibet, Tours, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Viking | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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