Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet
Upon reaching Lhasa in Tibet, the Potala Palace is THE place to visit. Driving along the city, the palace is imposing standing in grandeur at the top with the mountains as backdrop. Built over time in the mid 17th century, the temple housed the Dalai Lamas and his followers, providing a place for the study of religion.
When we were visiting, the sun was bright even in early morning, requiring immediate protection from sunblock for skin & especially protective sunglasses for eyes. Get used to the blue sky with no cloud in the vicinity, mainly due to the location & height.
Climbing upwards on the staircases slowly, the grandeur palace gives way to the stories of the Dalai Lamas & the monks, with various artifacts in the live museum of Potala Palace. Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed, so make good use of your imaginations.
Upon entering the various rooms inside the palace, the musky smell is quite apparent. One thing that caught my attention were the beautiful wooden cabinets, which may be old but looks great as antique. Most colouring is faded, but you can see the remnants of the wooden cabinets.
Going inside the palace & taking a tour takes approximately 1 full hour, with quite strict control on batches of tourists being allowed in. Coming out from the palace, we were presented with balding mountains. The development of the city is quite apparent, with the city growing further & more modern buildings built along the way.
Mixed feeling – as Lhasa is developing way too fast. Although the connection via highways & train tracks have improved significantly, allowing trading, cost of transportation is expensive. Along the city suburbs especially, there are signs of glass horticulture everywhere, indicating the serious attempt for self-sufficiency for food.
Mini Potala Palace : Putuo Zhongcheng Temple in Chengde, China
On the far east of Lhasa, right across the olden Silk Road leading to Chengde town, is a mini model of the original Potala Palace. The mini model is 1/10th of the original size, but looks as impressive with its own fusion of character from Chinese & Tibetan architecture. The temple was originally built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign in the later part of 18th century with inspiration from the actual temple. Simpler in architecture, the dual colour is dominated by brick & white.
Having been to Chengdu’s mini Potala a decade earlier, the feel is different. The influence of the Chinese architecture is quite apparent. Smell, sound & feel are unique to this temple.
Two temples so far apart, but are still connected with an intent for inspiration as a model. Over the years, both developed their own characters. Pretty much like how an human kind is as they travel around the world and decides to settle somewhere. With a past connection, but unique on its own.