Potala Palace: Epitome of Perfection



Potala Palace is wonderfully perched on Marpo Ri hill, which is nearly 130 meters above the valley of Lhasa. Potala Palace stretches for an additional 170 meters. It is one of the most popular structures in Tibet. Most legendary stories that concern the hill speak of a sacred cave. This cave is supposed to be the dwelling region of the Bodhisattva Chenresi, also known as Avilokiteshvara.

Emperor Songtsen Chenresi used the structure as a meditation retreat during the seventh century AD. In 637 AD a palace was constructed on the hill by Songtsen Gampo. The structure stood in good condition till the 17th century. It was then made part of the greater buildings’ foundations. The fifth Dalai Lama ordered the construction of the palace in 1645. The construction of Potrang Karpo or White Palace was completed in 1648. Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was included in 1694. More than 7000 workers were employed in its construction. The services of nearly 1500 artisans and craftsmen were used. The Tibetan uprising caused minor damage to the palace. The chapels along with their artifacts are preserved wonderfully.

The palace was name Potala in the eleventh century. The name is most probably derived from Mt Potala, which is a mountain abode of Bodhisattva Chenresi. Emperor Songtsen Gampo is believed to be the incarnation of Chenresi. He is believed to be the founder of Potala. It is very probable that Lhasa’s hilltop palace derived its name from sacred mountain of India.

Potala Palace
is a mammoth structure. The Palace covers 130,000 square meters, internally. Potala Palace had many functions. It primarily served as the Dalai Lama’s residence. It was also the seat of the government of Tibet. Most ceremonies of the State were held here. Potala Palace is home to a school for monks and administrators. Potala Palace was a major sacred destination as the past Dalai Lamas lay buried here.

Two chapels are part of the White Palace: Phakpa Lhakhang and Chogyal Drubphuk. These chapels trace their history to the seventh century. They are considered to be sacred. They are the oldest structures situated on the hill. Arya Lokeshvara is a respected statue that is located in one of the chapels. Thousands of pilgrims throng the chapels each day.

Potala Palace comprises of two parts: Red palace and White palace. Red Palace lies at the center, whereas White Palace lies at the two wings.

The Red Palace is also known as Potrang Marpo. It occupies the highest place in Potala Palace. It is completely dedicated to Buddhist prayer and religious study. It was coated with red paint as a symbol of power and stateliness.

Potala Palace consists of other annexes, which include the School of Buddhist Logic, seminary, gardens, courtyards, and printing House.

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