Potala Palace, as A World Heritage Site

Let’s travel from Egypt to china to see another example of the architectural heritage buildings, is the Potala Palace, which has an organizational and spiritual importance, its place is in southern part of Tibet self-governing area in south China, a city called Lhasa.

It’s atop of the Red Mountain (Mar-po-ri), which stand with a 130 meters height above the Lhasa River Valley. And ascends up on its base.

In this area stands the Red palace (Potrand Marpo) which is built in 1694 contain several Religious Statues and praying areas, with the tomb of eight of the Spiritual Leaders, Dalai Lamas, and it’s considered a place for the Buddhist Tibetan Pilgrims to head to.

In the 7th century the Potala Palace was commissioned to be built by King Srong-brtsan-sgam-po on an area of 13 Square Km which was smaller and less rich than the Portrand Marpo Palace which will come in a later age. Potala means: High Heavenly Realm or Pure Land. It’s not signified as where did this name come from exactly, but most likely the name came from the name of a mountain in India called Mount Potala, as in their beliefs the Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama an incarnation of a bodhisattva named Guanyin or Avalokiteshvara who took the Mount Potala as his home.

The palace that commissioned by Srong-brtsan-sgram-po was destroyed. The fifth Dalai Lama in 1645 ordered the building of a new palace that suited his being a leader on both the spiritual and political aspects. With the spiritual importance of Lhasa as it’s in a medial place between the three main Buddhist Monasteries Sera, Drepung (Bras-Spungs) and Ganden (Dga’-Idan) in addition for it being a place for pilgrimage for the Buddhists, with the political and secure importance due to its elevated position, it was selected as a place for this Castle. And was used as a military fortress till the Mid-18th Century.

The Potala contain more than 1,000 rooms, the most significant spiritually are the Chogyal Drubphuk and Phakpa Lhakhang which used to be parts of the old palace of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po, which also contain the statue of the sacred Arya Lokeshvara (Avalokiteshvara) among 200,000 holy statues within the sacred complex alongside with more than 10,000 altars.

Potala palace was enlisted as a World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1994


Figure 01 : Potala Palace