The Potala Palace is considered as an icon of Tibetan architecture. Located on the Red Hill in Lhasa, it covers more than 360,000 square meters and has 13 stories. In 641, Songtsan Gambo, ruler of the Tubo Kingdom, had the Potala Palace built for Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty, his bride. It enjoys supreme religious status in the heart of the Tibetan Buddhists.
Following are tips which will make your trip to the great palace the most rewarding.
1.As of 2006, the golden roof located at the top of the Potala Palace is no longer open to the public. Due to renovations and other factors, the sanctuaries that are open to the public constantly change. Only a few of the most important sanctuaries remain open on a daily basis. It is recommended that you visit during the Shoton Festival, Tibetan Losar (New Year), or any other Tibetan religious holidays, so that your experience can be the most rewarding.
2.The interior of the Potala Palace has an extremely complex layout and very profound cultural value. It is recommended that you reserve enough time to fully look around the premises and wear flat and comfortable shoes when you come.
3.Finding a toilet in the Potala Palace is extremely difficult. It is recommended that you take care of your restroom needs prior to entering.
4.When you come to visit the Potala Palace, be prepared to respect Tibetan religious taboos, such as refraining from wearing a hat, taking pictures (although taking photographs from outside of a sanctuary is permitted), trampling on the doorsill, etc. All visitors must finish their tour within one hour, so loitering in any of the sanctuaries is not permitted. After the tour is completed, please exit from the west gate of the Potala Palace. Go down the slope of the hill upon exiting and you’ll be able to return to the main front gate.
5.If time is sufficient, it is recommended that you walk around the Potala Palace clockwise one time. You can witness the layfolk talking ritual walk and making their religious prostrations and experience the livelihoods of the people who live at the snowy plateau.
6.Places to photograph a panoramic shot of the entire Potala Palace: The hillside across the street is commonly known to be the best choice. The two white pagodas that we often see in many panoramic photographs are taken from this location. The landmark for this small hill is two signal towers that are managed by attendants. Summer hours are from 6:30am to 6:00 pm, and entrance fees are 2 RMB per person.