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see LhasaLhasa
or Lasa
, city (1994 est. pop. 118,000), capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, SW China. It is on a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo (Brahmaputra) at an altitude of c.11,800 ft (3,600 m).
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Potala (Tibet)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In Buddhist thought, Mount Potala is the mythical home of Bodhisattva Chenresi (better known in the West by her Chinese name, Kuan Yin). On a hill overlooking the Llasa Valley in Tibet was a cave, which in the years after Buddhism entered the country was considered to be a location favored by Chenresi with her presence. Seventh-century Tibetan ruler Songtsen Gampo built a palace on the hill in 637. That palace would eventually become the residence of the Dalai Lamas.

Seventeenth-century Tibet was dominated by Lozang Gyatso (1617–1682), the fifth Dalai Lama whose life is pictured in a mural on the Great West Hall within the Potala. He is credited with allying himself with the Mongols and then unifying Tibet under the Gelugpa Buddhists whom he led. He also began the massive construction project that created the Potala as it is today. The so-called red palace was completed in the decade after Gyatso’s death, during which time the country’s regent attempted to rule in place of the Dalai Lama’s designated successor. The completed palace is some 384 feet in height and 360 feet wide; it has over a thousand rooms that cover an area of some five square miles. It underwent its last major renovation in the 1920s during the time of the thirteenth Dalai Lama.

From the seventeenth century until 1959, the Potala served as both the seat of the Tibetan government and the home of the Dalai Lama. Following the Chinese invasion of Tibet and its annexation by the Peoples Republic, the Dalai Lama moved into exile in neighboring Tibet. As the Chinese took control of the country, most of its holy sites (especially the monasteries) were looted and/or razed to the ground. However, the Potala, including the Buddhist chapels within it, were exempted from the destruction experienced by the Buddhist community. Today it has once again become a pilgrimage site for Buddhists and is a key tourist stop for foreigners visiting Tibet.

The palace remains one of the most sacred of sites to Tibetan Buddhists, though today it is essentially a museum without any official status. The oldest surviving temples in the country are contained within the walls of the White Palace. They date to the seventh century. One of these temples, known as Phakpa Lhakhang, houses possibly the most holy object recognized by Tibetan Buddhists: a statue of Bodhisattva Chenresi. The bodies of eight of the previous Dalai Lamas are housed there, preserved in stupas in the palace’s several chapels. The stupa of the fifth Dalai Lama is the largest. It is made of sandalwood and decorated with gold and precious stones.


Phuntsok, Namgyal. Splendor of Tibet: The Potala Palace, Jewel of the Himalayas. Dumont, NJ: Homa& Sekey Books, 2002.
Potala Palace. Llasa, Tibet: Managing Bureau of Cultural Relics, Tibetan Autonomous Region, 1988.
References in periodicals archive ?
Go to Chakpori Hill before dawn Chakpori Hill is adjacent to Potala Palace, and is THE viewing area for dawn breaking over the mountains and the Potala Palace.
Pistorius is part-owner of Potala Palace, a Singspiel colt who briefly held the South African yearling record when bought for R3.
Visiting the area also helps travellers to learn about Tibetan culture at sites like the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.
He visited the Potala, the Jokhang, Ramoche and other temples and monasteries.
In Lhasa, located in the middle of the Tibetan Plateau, explore the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the Drepung and Sera monasteries.
This concentration of the Dalai Lama's power becomes visible in the fortifications overlooking the city of Lhasa in Potala.
In Tibet, guests meet with local pottery-making families, visit Potala Palace, the 7th century former winter residence of the Dalai Lama; and explore the nine islands of Lake Yamdrok and the remote Samding Monastery, the only Tibetan monastery to be headed by a woman.
With its encouragement, we finally reached the Potala Palace [in Lhasa, Tibet].
Tucked into a separate room of the Classical Tibet section are facsimiles of the sumptuous murals from the Lukhang, the Dalai Lamas' Secret Temple near the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.
Yet what emerged from the ruins was not a New World but a Cold War world order that not only brought about more disasters to the human world but also destroyed Shangri-La, the Blue Moon in which the last seed of hope for the future was believed to be preserved, when in 1950 the Red Army marched into Tibet, occupied the axis mundi, Lhasa and the Potala, and drove away the Anima-God the Dalai Lama, to exile in India.
Niwa also visited the Potala Palace, the chief residence of the Dalai Lama, and met with Tibet Gov.
Filmed over the course of eight years with unprecedented access to many of the country's restricted sites of natural and historic interest, World Heritage of China reveals China in its entirety, including never-before-seen images of Jiuzhaigou Lake, the Dunhuang Mogao Caves, the classical gardens of Suzhou and the Potala Palace.