Enclosed within massive walls, gates and turrets built of rammed earth and stone the White and Red Palaces and ancillary buildings of the Potala Palace rise from Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3,700 metres. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE the complex symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The White Palace contains the main ceremonial hall with the throne of the Dalai Lama, and his private rooms and audience hall are on the uppermost level. The palace contains 698 murals, almost 10,000 painted scrolls, numerous sculptures, carpets, canopies, curtains, porcelain, jade, and fine objects of gold and silver, as well as a large collection of sutras and important historical documents. To the west and higher up the mountain the Red Palace contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang.
The Jokhang Temple Monastery was founded by the regime also in the 7th century, in order to promote the Buddhist religion. Covering 2.5ha in the centre of the old town of Lhasa, it comprises an entrance porch, courtyard and Buddhist hall surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone and are outstanding examples of the Tibetan Buddhist style, with influences from China, India, and Nepal. They house over 3,000 images of Buddha and other deities and historical figures along with many other treasures and manuscripts. Mural paintings depicting religious and historical scenes cover the walls.
Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama’s former summer palace constructed in the 18th century, is located on the bank of the Lhasa River about 2km west of the Potala Palace in a lush green environment. It comprises a large garden with four palace complexes and a monastery as well as other halls, and pavilions all integrated into the garden layout to create an exceptional work of art covering 36ha. The property is closely linked with religious and political issues, having been a place for contemplation and for signing political agreements.
The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka embody the administrative, religious and symbolic functions of the Tibetan theocratic government through their location, layout and architecture. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, contribute to their Outstanding Universal Value.
Criterion (i): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace is an outstanding work of human imagination and creativity, for its design, its decoration and its harmonious setting within a dramatic landscape. The three-in-one historic ensemble of the Potala Palace, with Potala the palace-fort complex, Norbulingka the garden residence and the Jokhang Temple Monastery the temple architecture, each with its distinctive characteristics, forms an outstanding example of traditional Tibetan architecture.
Criterion (iv): The scale and artistic wealth of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, which represents the apogee of Tibetan architecture, make it an outstanding example of theocratic architecture, of which it was the last surviving example in the modern world.
Criterion (vi): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace forms a potent and exceptional symbol of the integration of secular and religious authority.
Lhasa is the capital of the Tibet autonomous region in China. It is located 3,750 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level on the northern slopes of the Himalayas. Lhasa, which means “Land of the Gods” and is over 1,300 years old, sits in a valley right next to the Lhasa River. In the eastern part of the city, near the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor neighborhood, Tibetan influence is still strong and evident and it is common to see traditionally dressed Tibetans engaged on a kora (a clockwise circumambulation or walk around the Jokhang Temple), often spinning prayer wheels. Long dilapidated… [read more].
Shannan prefecture is in Tibet. Shannan prefecture is located south of Lhasa, covering an area between the Yarlung Tsangpo River and the Bhutan border. The prefecture lies at an average height of 3,600 meters above sea level, and with its mild climate and wide valleys is considered the most fertile place in Tibet. The region played an important role in Tibetan history, and many consider it be the birthplace of Tibetan culture. The prefectural headquarters, Tsethang, is located in the Yarlung valley, and it is connected to Lhasa by a paved and reasonably well maintained road. [read more]
Gyantse is a city in Xigatse Prefecture. Located by the Nyang-chu River, Gyantse is the fourth largest city in Tibet. It once was a major center for trade with India, and in 1904 the city became a battlefield when the British Army under Colonel Frances Younghusband attacked the city. There are buses running from Xigatse and Lhasa (via Xigatse) to Gyantse on a regular basis. However, most people arrive by organised tours from the capital. The town itself is quite small & most sights can be seen on foot. Taxis are available, but watch out for illegal taxies. Tibetan people are friendly, sometimes… [read more]