The Potala Palace Travel Guide
Before you set out to explore every nook and cranny of the Potala Palace, grab a coat, especially if you are not traveling during the summer. As altitude increases, the temperature also drops, so it is never wrong to go prepared. Inside the Palace you are not allowed to wear hats of any sort nor sunglasses. Keep in mind that photographs are not allowed inside the Palace.
1) White Palace
Known as the Potrang Karpo, it served as the home of the Dalai Lama until the 1959 Tibetan insurgency. Built for secular uses, it is here where you can find a former seminary, several offices, and a printing house.
2) Red Palace
Devoted to study and prayer, the Red Palace is a labyrinth of halls, passageways and courtyards. Also known as the Potrang Marpo, the bulk of the Potala Palace sights are in this area:
3) Great West Hall
The central hall of the citadel, the Great West Hall contains four chapels that praise the greatness of the fourth Dalai Lama. Fine murals and Bhutan wraps cover the walls and pillars of this hall.
4) Tomb of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama
Located west of the Great West Hall is the tomb of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, which can only be accessed with the help of a monk or a licensed tour guide. Constructed in 1933, the tomb features a gold stupa and devotional gifts such as porcelain vases, a pearl-encrusted mandala and Indian ivory tusks, to name a few.
5) The Saint’s Chapel
Dating from the 7th century, this shrine bears the statue of Avalokiteshvara and his attendants. From here, you can access the Dharma Cave, where ancient images and transcriptions can be seen.
6) North Chapel
This hall plays home to the statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha and the fifth Dalai Lama. Located left of the statue is the tomb of the eleventh Dalai Lama, who passed away at the young age of 18.
7) South Chapel
Here, you can venerate the statue of the 8th century Indian saint Padmasmbhava. His wife, consort and holy manifestations can be seen around his ornate sculpture.
8) West Chapel
Five golden stupas, including one that contains the mummified body of the fifth Dalai Lama, are preserved here.
9) First Gallery
Located above the West Chapel, this gallery features big windows and colorful murals in between.
10) Second Gallery
This gallery serves as the access way of visitors who wish to purchase souvenirs or drinks.
11) Third Gallery
Apart from fine murals, the third gallery plays home to priceless miniature bronze, copper, and gold statues.