Potala Palace, Tibet

Potala Palace–Tibet


Hidden in the world’s tallest mountain range, Tibet remained largely untouched from the rest of the world until the 20th century.  As a result, the few who did make it into its capital city, Lhasa, were a privileged few.  Once in Lhasa, an early visitor would see Tibet’s prized architectural jewel sitting high above the rest of the city.  Potala palace is the traditional housing and governmental complex for the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s political and spiritual leader.  Since his exile from his homeland in 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama has not seen his beautiful Potala palace.  However, today it is possible for tourists to go to Tibet and spend time in Lhasa with the Potala’s powerful presence looming in the background.  The Potala palace in Lhasa, Tibet is one of the most spiritual places on earth because of its history, both religious, and political.  On visiting the “The Forbidden City,” one will find each of the major monasteries open to visitors.  Still hoping to generate political sympathy through religious interest, it is possible to learn Dzogchen meditation at several of the monasteries where one can find a willing teacher.

Potala Palace, Tibet

flickr image by bomb_bao

Overlooking Lhasa on a tall mountain is the Potala palace.  It’s shining golden roofs once were symbolic of the palace’s sacrality.  Now a state-controlled museum, Lhasa’s golden gem may be seen from miles within and outside the city proper.  The palace once served as the largest and most majestic monastery within all the secluded Tibetan landscape.  The interconnected buildings and 150 feet tower were built on an ancient volcano.  At the center of the Potala is the Red Palace that traditionally was the Dalai Lama’s private quarters.  These quarters are located on the very top of the tower so that none could be higher.  The so-called White Palace, which flanks the Red Palace on both sides, was the administrative offices of officials and high ministers to the Dalai Lama’s state office.  A journey to Lhasa and to the Potala would not be complete without experiencing the traditional teaching room of the Dalai Lama, one of the highest of all reincarnated beings.

Adding to the mystique of the world’s highest spiritual spot, within the mountainous region behind the Potala are secret, inaccessible caves and tunnels.  A subterranean system may have once housed the most secretive of Tibetan Buddhist practices, such as the use of mystical psionic abilities considered the byproducts of high meditative states.  Stranger yet are the mythological corpses that are supposedly hidden here, leftover from a perished race of giant human-like beings.  Although no such archaeological findings have ever been found, the myth adds to the general excitement of the location as a visitor will never know exactly what lurks behind the next corner.

One may tour the Potala after receiving a special tourist visa from the Chinese occupant government.  However, it should be noted that traveling to and experiencing this region may be harsh on the body at first as it is at a very high mountainous altitude of over 4,000 meters.  The best way to visit Lhasa is to travel during the summer from the Sichuan province of China.  For the most adventurous, though, land routes from Nepal and India may be used.  Trekking to Lhasa over land over the course of many days can be quite the physical feat but likely more spiritually rewarding because of the physical human conquest literally walking over mountains would yield.

Date posted: 13th February, 2014

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